Monthly Archives: May 2016
Note: I was published in a poetry book by Saul Williams years ago. The title of the poem is Girl Band, and I decided to write a four-part flash fic piece from each stanza.
Little maiden blue, burqa blessed,
she holds monstrous stories told
in the spaces of her lyre; infantile,
how her voice is muffled by the cloth
It didn’t surprise her fans that tickets to her shows sell out in ten minutes or less. She liked choosing small venues – this time a considerably-sized lounge – and a place where protesters would not be an issue.
The fear in her mind left years ago when she escaped the terrorist camps, so she had her dark gray tour bus park in front of the lounge and the few protesters that had made it outside on that cold December night. The shouting were a cacophony of Arabic, Urdu, Farsi while the police shouted in English. She remained silent, her mouth hidden beneath a black burqa adorned with a bronze grille. Her blue eyeliner gave the looks she made at her opponents the more menacing while she walked inside the lounge.
The techs set up the stage quickly – all that was needed was a rug to cover the stage’s wooden flooring, a comfortable and stylish seat, and a table at the proper height for her instrument. She had been using a three-foot tall lyre, gilded and Sumerian designed for the better part of a decade.
The red and purple stage lights came down on stage, and she came in, draped in a long, light blue burqa with a golden mesh. It looked as if she was floating towards her lyre. She sat down on the seat and pulled her arms out from under the burqa. Both her arms, covered in full-sleeve tattoos, depicted images of the bloodshed she witnessed at home, like a dark tapestry of sorrow and violence. She plucked at the strings with her right hand, whose arm had images of AK-47s and beheaded infidels.
“We born from the earth leave buckets of blood,” she sang, her voice the exquisite mix of the child and pixie, “my clit is gone…”
She commenced with her left hand, the one with an arm draped with buildings in ruin and explosions. The complexity of the melody was beautiful, making her lyrics and odd juxtaposition.
“I’ve run thousands of miles in the woods and the mud, but my clit is gone…”
The crowd could not make it if she was in pain or or if she was detached as she sang. There was a whimsy in her movement, swaying her head side to side and tapping her feet in black leather boots that seemed impossible to think she could be enjoying singing what was coming out of her mouth.
“My family is under the sand with the rest of the town,
The killers blessed my neck with knives, and I lied down… now my clit is gone.”
Her die-hard fans soaked into every word – some knew the lyrics and whispered it to friends and lovers. Others in the crowd simply walked out in discomfort or repulsion.
The song ended with a complex arpeggio. Afterwards, she spoke softly on the microphone.
“Thank you that was the easiest song on the set list. Let’s continue.’
With that, she removed her burqa, revealing an Afghani woman wearing a Rancid t-shirt and ripped jeans. The scars on her face mapped her life’s pain, but she maintained a genuine smile as she moved onto the next transgression.
I wasn’t planning on going to the Black Hole Disco, but having forty percent DNA of dance music makes a person weak for opportunities such as those. In the spirit of “fuck it why not,” I bought a ticket from a junkie days prior and made my way to the 8th Palace.
It was near midnight, and people of all sexes and genders stood outside, smoking. Women wore black shirts with ragged multicolored sigil, denoting their favorite band or god, who knows. Men wore light-colored tank-tops and caps. They all looked equally disaffected.
I passed through the sliding glass doors, into a hallway of shops that were completely locked down. Before I passed the particle-screen security gates leading to the shut-down escalators, I noticed that the floor above me was shaking from a thumping bass.
The Palace used to be a family restaurant and gateway for immigrants looking for cheap breakfast. It shut down two years ago and is still remains a gateway, to an extent. The floors still have their red carpets and foreign decorations, but at the far left is the Black Hole rig. Four speakers strategically placed, two turntables, a sound mixer and two laptops, one connected to an empty metallic ring over the dance floor.
There were two blackouts before the main event came on stage. Each time the ring hummed when it shouldn’t have in the middle of a deep house cut, or in the staccato of a trap jam. I slipped into the crowd and stared at how the pulsing lights from behind the stage bounced from the wallpaper. Such an odd juxtaposition, but I love it.
And then, the dark princess came. Everyone expected the first songs playing were to be her well-known harsh industrial-electro cuts, but she surprised us. She switched heavily between deep bass, southern underground rap, and then to 90s pop anthems. It was interesting, seeing this pallid, black-haired woman playing this kind of set, but we all wanted more of it regardless. Out of nowhere, in our drug-and-euphoria giddiness, she pressed a button on the second laptop and then jumped over the rig on on top of the crowd. She used a party-goer’s hand for balance, and walked to the center on a path made by the hands of others.
This was when I finally learned why it was called the Black Hole Disco. There was another blackout, but the music kept playing. The ring above us burst with a blue light, and I felt a slight pull coming from its direction. My instincts from years of illegal rave escapes kicked in and I ran away as I heard the screams from behind. It took only the length of one song, the DJ’s own from her recent album, for the crowd to get sucked into the dance-singularity. I’m confident those ravers will never be seen again.
I stumbled out of 8th Palace, and in the few minutes I had run from the chaos I found it was now the morning two days later, thanks to time dilation. I could have been sucked into the beyond of wherever that ring took the DJ and the crowd. I should have been on my knees, traumatized. But I did not. I walked for blocks and blocks of damp post-rain city, enjoying the warmth, smiling. Hoping I get another chance to cheat death, someday.
“You feel weak, but I still think
you’re the strongest man I’ve –“
it’s dark and I am sitting in bed,
three attacks in two hours
“You’re the bravest –“Shut up,
shut up. This is no daring here
this is primal survival, walking
in the woods of the city making
sure the cars don’t run me over.
“You can do this, you have me – “
no one is enough to fight this,
just me and the absence, anger
the desperation, and my tears
This is not genetic, there is no curse
tied to the ATCG worth passing on
to a child, in my future, I will hold
scared to death the seizure drops
The fluids show it is not cancer, no
panic then, you are healthy (sort of)
keep true to your smiles no matter
how you hide them, or slip away
Photosensitivity free, lucky for you
there is a light at the end of this
tunnel unlike for the rest, but recall
the absence, when it hits, breaks you
I walk out the building, hood up, monstrous
The homeless of the Tenderloin and I share
a certain shame and resiliency this morning
These streets know not the steps or pattern
of the brain waves hunted by the sensors
married to my head, held in holy bandage
There is no consummation – humiliation,
perhaps — but I want to lay in bed, alone
my head held high in hope of the sign
from on right-brain glitch to nodes,
the heavenly disconnect of my senses
to the tech – one cord, from monitor
to temporal lobe, temporary, lonely
The talismans are wrapped on
a string around my arm, wrist first,
penitent. Why did this happen?
What ties did I break that made
this condition my faith, my body
its sole temple and priest?
To the forearm, and the threads
become tenuous, protective
to the shivers in a blind animism
where all my will would rather
stay with frayed elder strings
than unbound to the seizures
The bicep, where there rests icons
misused saints I used to pray to
but stopped – now, I whisper
small phrases to them as auras
move past the shoulder towards
a flux – divine, wicked, unknown
I will remain the man shaking violently
Even at 90 and the last flicker of light
When my daughter stops calling me
As I see my wife go into the ground
After I see my child’s eye for the first time
Before “I do” leaves my mouth in May
The last time I’m allowed to go to a festival
Tonight, writing this in fear of my future
Despite all the control and safety from pills
There is one maxim to learn, after all these battles
when I have hyperventilated into angel’s trumpets
refusing the touches of careful women saving me
from the midnight fear and morning complications
finally facing complexity, embracing my absence
until my body turns into the predictable maelstrom –
Yes, there is no particular ending to a seizure
The waking up, the consciousness resumes
and we are once again left in this universe
on fire, white hot or slowly burning lethargic
But we will not let the black and blues define
us, we will take the bruises and the pain
as signs that, yes, we are still here, fighting
the ghosts that refuse to let go of our brain
And we will push our bodies, just as they do,
until we become heavenly, orbiting, unlimited,
drifting with hope that we will meet each other
And I will finally remember all of our names