Place where the waters meet
"poem from the hand of the god of love"
(14 January 2004)
My good friend from Tampa, U., has recently been sending me one-line poem letters, including the one above. U. and I met in 1994, when we were both prep cooks at a vegetarian cafe in South Tampa. Since we were both studying at USF at the time, we coincided with weekend shifts under semi-tyrannical bosses, spending as much time as possible discussing art, literature and music while making tofu burgers, tempeh sandwiches and macrobiotic salads at the endless shifts behind the kitchen counter. At that time, Uari had recently returned from living at a Buddhist monastery in New Jersey.
I plan on posting several of U.'s poems here sometime soon. Born in Puerto Rico in the 1970s, U. was raised in Tampa. He mentioned a few years ago, while I filmed him and C. walking through Ybor City for a super-8 film project ("Agua Florida," 1995-1999), that his grandfather had built several of the "cigar worker" tin-roof houses to the West of the interstate.
Over at pamphlet I was trying to write about Ybor City when I was back in Tampa recently. Ybor has always seemed to be a ghostly section of Tampa, with so many of its abandoned or unused historic buildings. While critics have pointed to Nilo Cruz's play Anna in the Tropics as being mediocre, one thing they overlook is its location: Tampa. As a city that is often made invisible or underestimated, Tampa can seem to exist only within itself, a remote province. In that sense it can be a visionary city. I learned how to read and write in Tampa, and I lived everything that one might need to live in that city.
Maybe this "blog" as a form of mythologizing cities. And we often see them through cars. Again, the machine coinciding with the human. Or, the machine writers quick at their instant publishing houses, here on (for instance) Chicha Press ("Made in E.E.U.U."). In Anna in the Tropics the unseen villain is, of course, the machines waiting to displace the lector. And, typically, I have seen no criticism that addresses the Taino elements of the play. Cruz makes an implicit link between the figure of the lector and the caciques and shamans of the Taino indians. So we're back again at invisibility, no?
In Green, Michael Stipe sings beautifully: "Let my machine talk to you..." I first listened to that under autumn trees in rural North Carolina, driving in a car with C. to the small town of Elkin. The mountains in that part of North Carolina are also visionary.
Expendable prose. I love the title that was given to Ginsberg's posthumous book of essays, Deliberate Prose. Pero esto es expendeable prose. Because I don't even have internet at home. "Thus, I have written this poem on a jet seat in mid-Heaven..." called the various libraries or internet cafes de Boston. Which require a money one doesn't own. So, the entries write themselves from a cubicle quickness. Hasta que siga siendo gratis.
An awkward prose, an easy and imitative prose. A clear prose and also a mystical prose. Poseur prose.