My first day of classes
On my first day of classes, the mayor of one of the cities in the deep south hit by Katrina called the hurricane 'our tsunami'.
On my first day of classes, the news said that China would close 7,000 coal mines, that iraq was more expensive than vietnam, that Mikhail Khodorkovsky wants to stand for parliament, that India is the biggest buyer of arms among developing countries.
Of course its more expensive, idiot. Taxes, not to forget GNP.
On my first day of classes, a tree branch fell on a power cable and cut off power to this university for 3 hours. Professors cancelled classes, everything shut down, and the cafeteria started serving crushed ice in paper cups. Harsh winds and grey hippo-clouds ripped across campus, nicking skin with dead leaves and sweeping ciggarette buds into the middle of the street.
On my first day of classes, I got to meet my professors.
I need to introduce you to one especially, the professor who teaches creative writing 350.01, writers reading poetry.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Michael Gizzi.
Michael Gizzi writes poetry. He studied at Brown, taught in many places, was a tree doctor, and now teaches me. What? Am not quite sure. Blue eyes in tanned face looked whimsically out on a class that expected to be told his grading policy.
Instead, he asked everyone to say a few words about themselves.
Here, I must follow a tangent: Intros can kill. Some develop a verbal tag they lisp out whenever asked: like hard-boiled eggs and maggie noodles, they never go wrong.
Some say close to nothing: very little past a name.
Some tell you where they are from and what they have done.
Intros kill, and feel like your pants are too tight and there's a dog staring at your crotch, only because you are called to account for yourself. And whether in front of a creative writing professor, Anubis or St. Paul, it will forever be... a struggle.
I like it that way. God save me from name tags. Like those people on Hollywood Squares who say:
"Hi, My name is Jane, Im a certified life guard, I live in santa cruz and on weekends I take my kids to the park and teach them how to play frisbee".
Hold up. And then??
The agony lies in wondering whether you say too much, or too little.
Introduce yourself, he said. Do you like poetry? What have you read, he asked.
I sat there, within me welled up words of YES poetry, pough-hit-ree, poetry like a bird and a bee, damn yes fuck yeah I must and I will I feel therefore I am, Carlos speaking red wheelbarrow, Neruda speaking love. An albatross, a kingdom, a sonnet for a horse with no name that would run free into xanadu, free into snow lit only by green eyed thought sparkling behind glass, watching waiting, and oh yes Eliot ELIOT FOREVER down by riversides and balding patches and yes, I have felt sorry for myself and I dont dare, I dont dare to disturb anything and can you teach me this, can you teach me how to live and love and die even, if that was needed.
He looked at me in invitation and I said-
"Hi, Im priyanka. I come from India, which is far away. I already have a major in English Lit, and now am double majoring and minoring in poli sci. I love poetry because only poetry could make people write words in lyric, words about spring and apes that can write and put it inside buses in Portland for people to read. Portland, Oregon. Not Portland, Maine.I am passionate about poetry, as much as I am passionate about cheesecake. I read I write I love, btw, Eliot, Pound, Seaney, Plath, Hughes and much more. Yup. Thats about it".
I forgot about Neruda and Mcgough and Seth and Lorca.
But such is the way with intros. There's always something you dont say.
Gizzi is something I will watch. A poet who's a tree doctor. His new anthology, 'No Both', is reviewed here
And here's something he wrote that I felt felt its way in here, crouching against the walls:
"Only last night because I'm always growing a proboscis I said "Tomorrow I'll begin this new notebook with the words I surrender." Like I should have a scarlet brand on my lip in lieu of a moustache that reads "He begins on the morrow" or tattooed to my big toe "He died with his rue on." But even that's a scarlet ruse. No wonder I suffer such trapezoidal travel anxiety that to put it wildly I get this visual visceral hallucination that my chest extends six feet straight out like an amphetamine puffed mourning dove. Might have something to do with flight. What's that, Doctor Pancoat, my little fraidy cat flights from change?
I always have a sense of camaraderie whenever I hear women especially remark quite rightly "Men? -yes, they're terrified of change." And yet if I'm going to make a clean stab at the brisket of it the truth best be careful not to piss off the mark and traffic only in a bloodbath of my own shirttail shortcomings trailing a Roman nosebleed -them I know exceedingly well. After all I'm not the Desquamated Professor of Grey Torpor for nothing.
But I desire a chair not a pitypot in perpetuity. I want a palpable hit. But I regress. I'm back kneeling on bitter rice in the coldstone circus church of misbehaving bent youth, slurring three-square Marys, faking a good Act of Conniption flush in front of the Light-a-Candle Concession, a terraced altar of carmine-colored jellyglasses flickering their translucent booboos of Jesus. Tongues of fire for hire? Drop the geetus in the leadbox and indulge your poor dead Pop with a night on the town in Limbo. A plaque on your house! Sister Tetchy scoring my penance ringside humphing siroccos through the bat wings on her Shroud of Turin.
"A beating a day keeps the titters away " peel the Bells of Saint Scary. Hang it all, Buster Brown, but we attended a condemned school. No wonder everyone I see points the fingers in their faces at me. Some can't accept a little hotsoup kitchen less it's been divined by their own dowsers, whence this Christer's scupper of cripes. You can imagine where this manic ringworm road goes. Flatline seems to be status quo and yet if you're a frantic mountaineer-like Mindanao diver you quiver wishbone in scabbard a being so bi-polar you either consign yourself to the blasted blame-box or turn your entirely flayed caul of pain on the world's largesse.
You know what the guy who ate the school said to me? "I thought it was Prince of Gluttony Day." A telltale sign of instability responsible for many memorable events. Why can't one have fun in his/her own home? But in our misty roses we forget."
-'Only last night' No Both, Gizzi.