Please Read This Poem

Two friends of mine are teaching in Taiwan right now. Here's a quick clip of what's happening politically there straight from them. I thought about writing a lengthy introduction like Sartre did for Genet to ensure the reading of the poem, but I'd rather not. It is an incredible poem from an extremely gifted writer. You will read her poems in other places, with better covers and in nicer fonts someday. They will resonate then as they do now.

From Taiwan:
I'm not sure if you have seen any news about Taiwan lately, but the elections were yesterday and the day before that the President was shot in an assassination attempt. He is OK though, and ended up winning the vote by a small margin. Now the opposition is trying to nullify the decision and get a recount at the bare minimum. The catch is, he is the guy who is encouraging independence from China, regardless of the 500 missles China has pointed at Taiwan at the moment. I really think I like his liberal ideology. He is one guy who organized the human chain across this island in the name of peace. So, this type of violence in a society that so rarely sees violence, has the hair on the back of everyone's neck standing up. And now that he has won, the whole world is watching to see a reaction from China, and Taiwan is in the midst of political unstability. We shall see. 

March 20th, 2004
(election day)

These missiles are teeth, poised like sails
and time is measured in units of wind.
Looking past them from the shark's throat,
a little circle made of sky.
Beyond the fission held still, those
containers of sadness, China
is orchestrating sunlight and history.

Taiwan is Earth's mitosis,
a goblet of it's neighbor's DNA,
carrying a map of independence
written in Braille.
While we admire jaw hinges
and tendons, the synapse, the
thumb, oxygen and fuse,
the birds decorate the trees
like oranges.

I held hands with you the length
of this entire cell, dividing
and spiralling out to sea.
Kicking to be born, will she
keep these ghosts inside her?
I have forgotten to say my name
to this country,
because the light in its eye is
neon reflected, and I am the
night absorbing it.

As the birds lift off your cheek,
I hold a flag
in the air of your exhale,
so from above,
they can see something moving.

Erica Schlaffer



Function of Painting

I know that people have good intentions when they tell me that I should sell my paintings, and it doesn't bother me when they tell me so. In fact they may not mean it, that may just be the best way they know how to compliment a painter, or to be cordial. So I have to figure out a cordial way to ask them about the function of painting.

"Well, you got to pay the bills." I know but if that's what my paintings are making you think than they are failing miserably. They're about benevolence, consideration, unlearning. I'd rather paint your house for cash and give you a painting because I felt you needed one. I understand how marketability plays an important role in artwork, I suppose, I don't care. So maybe I'll end up painting houses for the rest of my life, and making paintings when I go home. I'll send you my ear in an envelope. Maybe he did that because he felt that he was earmarked into being an artist, so he sliced his ear like a sheep's. And maybe he ate his paints because he wanted to paint what was on the inside. I'll need to borrow money for postage.



They Keep Bullets that Killed Their Brothers in Their Pockets

Of course I can’t write. Of course I can’t create. I don’t have pockets filled with brothers, that others think are full of bullets. I am unarmed with historical ammunition. I am the bullet imbedded in your country… inside of your brother. I am the reason he has fallen and you carry him now in your pocket, near to your chest, counting the breaths you appreciate. The breaths I do not understand. It is no surprise to me that I cannot write. I will not understand by writing or reading or visiting.

The turtles where I live do not possess poetic metaphors. My hands do but they are not words that are easy for me to put back together.

I do not fill the pages I dream of. I do not write the stories I see in my sleep, the master narratives that keep me awake, the dialogues that confuse my inner monologue. The characters that fill my day do not travel to the pages. Instead I keep them in my pocket. My one pocket. The pocket that you fill with dead family members renders my leg useless and my hands numb. My eyes are filled with the family members you have run out of. My mouth is filled with adjectives that embarrass me. They do not rhyme.

I stay away from the rain. I stay away from the sun. I am dying and no one has room in their pockets for me.




That's a Military short for Meals Ready to Eat I learned this weekend. They are packaged in brown paper and made to be carried with you when you're at war. There were three different kinds. Black Bean and Rice Burrito, Thai Chicken, and Country Chicken. Why do I care? I just find something strange about it. Does this mean that while we were assassinating President Allende our troops were enjoying Burrito's during their breaks? I mean Thai chicken? Are we appreciating other countries contributions to the world while we kill them? It doesn't ring true. We don't just use countries for what we need while we erradicate them or should I say liberate them, do we?