Here is the best news ever I could tell you: Ish Klein's first book is due out Feb. 9, 2009. It is called Union! and will be published by Canarium Books. Ish Klein is a genius. People say that sort of thing a lot about people, but I really mean it when I talk about Ish Klein. It is a true blessing to know her. Alice B. Toklas wrote (or we will say she did for the sake of argument) that there were three times in her life that she met a genius and each time she heard a bell. And she said, when she first met Gertrude Stein she heard a bell.
I first saw Ish Klein read when I had only lived in Philadelphia for two months, as she read for the Philadelphia leg of the Poetry Bus Tour. I didn't hear a bell that night cause that's not my thing, that's Alice B. Toklas' thing. Still, bell or no bell, she was so good, she scared me. For about 8 months after that, I would see her around town, but I was so scared of her genius that I would lose all ability to say anything and end up running away. One night, last summer, after having known who she was for 8 months, I went up to her at a party and introduced myself. She was very nice and I like her very much to this day.
I really like Alice B. Toklas.
I first read Gertrude Stein's Three Lives when I was 15. I was in San Diego visiting my Aunt Ardis. The day I read the book, I was swimming by myself in my aunt's pool, with a bunch of orange trees all around. That was a very important day for me.
The other day I went to a reading Molly's Bookstore in Philly's Italian Market. Molly Russakoff is a brilliant poet who ran the bookstore, but is now closing it in order to open up Project 360, an amazing educational venture for teens who feel like they don't have a place in the traditional school system (I will hopefully write more about Project 360 in a future post, as I think it is wonderful and people should donate money to it). Because the bookstore is closing, there was a closing reading. Books from the bookstore were very cheap at the reading and I bought a book called Staying on Alone: Letters of Alice B. Toklas. It seems like a really good book so far. At the reading, Ish Klein read the poem below. It knocked me so far off my feet that I can't stop thinking about it. In fact the poem below this post called "The Body" is written to Ish after hearing this poem by her. Here's Ish's phenomenal poem:
Act I: Against Death
Since we are ghosts,
since we are barely here but for pain and song and sad lights from our memories
making it out,
since we are brightest before death-
Wait friendly ghost! I’m running after which means I thought of running:
I watched myself do it
I had regret
I put it all on you.
You- the mobile ghost
You- the better ghost
You with your magic and who am I?
I am an angry friendly ghost. A ghost who wants to lose weight,
one who picks at skin and pulls out hair.
One who doesn’t haunt others but who haunts herself.
Ghost among ghosts!
You who are a weary ghost- who is hung over and scribbling out the fear-
The old buildings that we move through as we dodge machines.
Come here and be faithful to blood
to the fact that it pours constantly-
The collective blood that pays our way and says almost nothing.
I am haunting these people.
I think they are my friends.
am I doing this.
I am going to be forgotten.
I do hope that happens.
Maybe then I can change
maybe I can say,
You go here, do this do that:
first A, then B, then C
and I will be reliable
as for endeavor.
But always it is:
fuck you A. I never needed A.
A is destroying my mind-
A is the devil and the devil wants to fuck and crawl out of me again;
to make me responsible for the end of it all.
A- the thing to do-
Avoid the devil
do the laundry.
Avoid the devil’s cameras.
Hi! I say. I smile.
behind the loudness, my evasion, the hangover, I am planning,
planning to get better.
I am figuring somewhere else.
I have been working on it.
I’ve been imagining the woods- not the city.
The woods and within the clearing
They will dig me out from a whole.
I was sleeping inside a tree.
You see I killed myself before for love. I could not be found.
Others needed me and I did not care.
I needed me but I did not know it as I was essentially leaking
everything and the love and the pain it mixed
sand to glass inside- it broke and my glass with wine
broken- this is how I drank it.
This is what shocked my voice
this is the further tear along the front.
The front filling up with blood- ballooning with it.
It fears the air a bit.
It needs to keep moving.
Wary blood, how can I blame you.
I am dead.
I did kill myself. I must forgive everyone in pain.
I must give them everything to correct my mistake.
It isn’t easy . Sorry.
Well, the furies
You know- the furies who can cure them.?
They have many arms all weaponed, all holding edges and points to tear.
You can’t hug them from behind.
They roll with spikes out.
Who’s in there? What blood is in there? How can it be freed?
I am part of you furies.
I am a radiant of you too.
Let me take you in and care, let me sit you by my fire.
My sister in her car.
We will die now, I thought.
We’re together- it fits
I guess I’m ready
If this is love
it isn’t trusting.
Love you are allowed to be you.
You with frightened blood and plagued by cameras from beyond and dancing sort of.
You with no magic that has become a new magic of ticks and clicks. Hit it with a stick
Metal, it is now,
a moment! I have stopped
aware of my complete apparent lack of comfort.
Numbers. Points in the dark.
Heaven. Old time.
Shame. Shame the stupid soiled person, the actor.
You out there, there is a way.
A way to break out!
You mate with flames
You must have been
You must be:
F. Made by Men
C. Computer, broken circuits cutting other circuits
inside and around
outside holding you in.
Your friends are keeping you here
They need someone too, Love.
LOVE TERRIBLE LOVE
LOVE TERRIBLE LOVE
STAY WITH ME
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