2019 Palm Beach Poetry Festival Kickoff Reading: Stuart Dischell

please give a warm welcome to Stuart to show it's always good to have your watch here gave a reading at a school in Tennessee a couple of years ago and put my watch down on the lectern and left it there and came back five minutes later to find my watch it was gone imagine that they stole the poet's watch thank you so much off for that beautiful introduction whoo and I really appreciate it very much and so glad to be here thank you so much Myles and Minnie and Susan and Jennifer my great assistant Bree and all of you who are here this evening and of course Tom still looks out for me thank you all right I feel like I'm lose a boosh here uh with this week of great readings and readers coming up animos Eve and I'm Jose bouche whoever however who that has quite a bit of seeds and pits and so be careful for your teeth I'm gonna read a couple of poems from my recent book children with enemies and then read all new work tonight so uh since you're writing new work here I thought I would also present it to you harmless poem my idea behind this if I have ideas is is that poets like doctors should do no harm I'm not sure what harm we're capable of doing except for the people who love us but in any case we should do no harm harmless poem forgive the web without its spider the house plant with few or many flowers and the Stars for hiding in the daytime forgive astronauts for distance and surgeons for proximity forgive the heart for the way it looks like something a dog eats from a pen forgive goat gods and wine gods and the goddess bathing in her pond forgive the sea for being Moody the air for its turbulence the stomach for its vomit forgive the insistence of sperm the greeting of the ovum forgive orgasms for their intensity and the phases they make in people's faces forgive the music of liars forgive autumn and winter and the departure of lovers and the young beautiful dead and the persistence of the old forgive the last tooth and hair Lorne asked me to read standing on Z so I got a request honoureth the title up of Z comes from essentially from to the lighthouse by Virginia Woolf and mr. Ramsay who's trying to get beyond Q and I was thinking of what it would be like to be in Z standing on Z the end of the jetty is like the end of our language nothing is ahead but the open sea who said there should not be more letters in the alphabet the jetty would be longer if we spoke Chinese but our characters are not as pretty and it takes perspective to see how the M in man and the W in woman suggests the graphics of their respective anatomies yet in my handwriting one looks just like the other I am thinking of the romance of M and W by the sea what do you think they said in the hot sand of creation what will their last words be prodigal I go back to the street I grew up on to see if the house I grew up in still stands but new people tore down our cottage by the cold green sea and built themselves something large like a huge coconut cake on a tiny dessert plate not at all like our house that fit just right my picture window faced the sea where the Sun rose and I was the Sun in a gold painted room now gone no one sought my advice or permission they would not have found me anyway if they try to ask whether they could alter this crucial evidence of my past for eternity I could say I once was a happy boy inside but won't I knew early the painter that my walls was not real gold inside the statue through the heel and ankle I enter from the right the way one enters a Cathedral climbing the high stairs I feel the pressure in my own shins ascending the tibia to the femur where those a head rests on the landing at the knee from there I begin spiraling to the buckle where the up and down flights meet just below the navel someone has opened a tavern here a bald owner brews coffee and pours the drinks and two pale daughters serve them on trays they are the color white people get when living in a mine but they are not in a mind fluorescent tubes like them I asked for water and they pointed bottled water in the cooler they are without speech the statue is wired for electricity but there is no plumbing inside the statue a sign in the foyer explains all this where a sleepy docent violence's awake before a model of the statue my mind is everywhere I recollect the windy streets of the capital where I had been walking past the embassies just yesterday the leaves ran ahead of us my dog was ready to follow did I say it was a big dog it dragged me by the leash into the park where the leaves assembled on the lawn crisp as you would expect in this season underfoot in all directions I remember passing through the gates I am in the torso near the seventh rib taking the zigzag flights underfoot through the great cavity of chests where the ribs like sideways flying buttresses suggest the inside of a whale's mouth as I ascend to the clavicle then run by rung up a ladder through the long noble throat to the windswept observation deck where I gaze through the eyes open to the elements above the buildings and treetops pine or cedar mean nothing to the statue gold or rust it's all the same the statute cares nothing for the line outside the tick encounter or the mother waiting on the bench below for the boy coming down or the one selling souvenirs of the statue displayed on a table by the left foot before climbing the statue I was a citizen like anyone everything was large to me then the wheel of the years rode me to this moment I should have seen it but I looked elsewhere there are smaller statues in this world you think you are an Armour some when you enter them you cannot move at all I drop a coin in the scenic viewer men idle outside a liquor store couples walk the path along the river smoke rises from the chimney pots of the tile-roofed houses the uniformed driver with our empty bus check sir tires with a gauge she took from her shirt pocket the letter carrier his truck reads a magazine the merchant sailors on the vessels watch the dockworkers warehouse the cargo the statue does not care about deeds or Commerce the statue does not see the lives in progress if somebody harmed you the statue would do nothing the statue looks through and over and beyond the statue is not aware some call it the statue or that its image is well known i listened through the wire mesh of each ear while the statue hears nothing the wind blows through its hollow brain even pigeons do not roost in its folds to stand below the brow of the statue and see out its eyes is to understand what is meant by distance and be embarrassed by all personal thoughts the statue has no therefore no self-pity if I have a name I cannot remember it now Koda broken he saw himself at last the colossus tallest wonder of the ancient world measured 30-some metres tall over the entry to the harbour of roads with both feet on a marble plinth yet in more popular version stood straddling the harbour titan god helios bronze guardian of rhodes for 54 years until he bowed at the shock and broke at his knees in an earthquake nine hundred camels for his pieces away this next poem is dedicated to oksana Shaco who died last summer or maybe some of you know who Oksana Shaco is she was one of the founding members of the radical arts group known as FEMEN formed in the Ukraine they just started a great protest against that fellow when he was over in Europe a few months ago I won't say his name she was also a really fine artist and if you're more interested in her and you should see the film just leaf Emma which is on find it on YouTube by the way I had a bump I made of my own bumper sticker after Charlie Hebdo and I had it in my car and said just sweet charlie units and parking outside the harris-teeter supermarket in greensboro fellow walked by and he said Jesus is Charlie I don't get it and I said you just did just sweet charlie is your sweet feminine or just sweet Mohammed just sweet the naked body is instrument of social justice I am EXO no Shaco yet i cannot be because i am not a youth young ukrainian woman stripped to the waist with english words written in paint across my breasts showing the populace what it otherwise wants to see looking down a girl's blouse or on pornographic screens I am Oksana Shaco because in this life I did not mean to fit the body of an aging man born in Atlantic City New Jersey wearing a towel around his middle shaving after a long shower living on a wooded lot in North Carolina no longer able to contain himself in the boredom that surrounds his skin but never did I wish to be a nun or learned to paint icons or protest on the roofs of public monuments or occupy cathedrals calling out corrupt leaders of church and state or get kidnapped by government agents who covered me in motor oil in the forest and tried to light me on fire but I am nonetheless Oxana Shaco her naked body the instrument of social justice in underpants and a crown of thorns eyes gazing upwards she reconstructed Jesus inserting her own figure amid the holy iconography I am free she drew across the canvas of her skin I am NOT Oksana Shaco and cannot pretend I am half my age or stand at an easel and know that even in the dark to a blind person I am NOT a good likeness of a woman but I wanted to speak not just from myself but from my selves I wanted to say something about July 23rd 2018 when Oksana Shaco hanged herself in her apartment I had just left the city the day it happened and her voice caught my this next monologue you know since the theories about about staying in my own lane ah I'm not good at that you know I always put on the turn signal and of creep across the dividing lines there I hope this poem doesn't defend any Irish people in the audience here huh I was in I was up in Boston last year I went by the building I used to live in and I thought of an alternative life for myself to be one of my selves again than just myself it'll be huge disappointments in my life to be only myself in this world that's all I've struggled against my whole life I don't want to just be myself I'm not as large and contain multitudes but at least I wish to contain selves an old man on the stairs mrs. Delaney and mrs. Costello or as dead as their husbands and the ground decades before them once and again one of the widow's would invite me in for tea if you know what I mean which for mrs. Delaney meant whiskey from County Antrim and for mrs. Costello bone-dry Hera's sherry sometimes on her third whiskey mrs. D would sing predictably of the blooming rose of Antrim or mrs. C with her sherry play Lady of Spain on the spinet piano mrs. D I would say you have a lovely voice like the breezes themselves through the Glen's of County Antrim Richard let imatinib rug and mrs. see your notes are struck like a Spanish dancers feet upon an ivory stage I was shameless then and when their children and grandchildren visited I could tell on the faces of the grown ones they knew what was up with me and the grands but never did mrs. d say a bad word towards mrs. C never the vice-versa and none of us worried about making babies for the second part of their lives my parents lived not so far from here in Fort Lauderdale's so again it's always a pleasure to come down to South Florida and this palm fairly self-explanatory is about my mother and the day that I had to take her remove her from her apartment it's to another domicile and it's called the last days on ocean lane the accordion panels of the hurricane shutters unfold the screeching music so loud I can hear it for the first time reverberating and it's rusted and sea salted glory and the otherwise quiet chasm between condos out-of-season and I believe how in all worthwhile improvisation some sections give themselves freely while others require more effort of the artist in this case shod foot and shoulder where the steel rods have caught along the rails finally loose the metal slips once more into its position and in the moment I close the curtain on the sunlight and the ocean on cue through the doorway my mother and faded Chanel dark glasses and pearls steps into the hallway person hand ready I'm gonna read some poems all of them are called lines about something and concerning something of something somehow oddly at this point in my life I've found myself writing I wouldn't call the nature poems but let's call them poems about elements and some people think their nature poems which just kind of shocks me this is really a neat report kind of guy huh there also seems to be a lot of allusions here to mountaineering which is something that has provoked my curiosity both physically and imaginatively over the last number of years since I spent some time in Switzerland this is called lines about mountains I just learned that mountains kill more people climbing down them than making their brave ascent or that some have the oldest rocks on the earth small wonder they crumble into avalanche having weathered eons to fall mountains must get tired with so many people climbing them and bored with the endless boot prints of alpine Issus and bright garb the flag poles jammed into crags piton and foot hold the kick of the crampon metal ladders across crevasse more climbers die each summer on Mont Blanc than all the Himalayas its peak not as perilous to summit as Everest or k2 but more frequented I conclude that the nearest mountain is more dangerous than the distant one just as we are more likely to die at the hands of someone we love lines about the wind all fuss and bluster the wind is busy it has a long way to go across the wide seas and one long breath clearing its throat down the avenues of Commerce the wind is master of the clouds sends scraps and dust along the highways the wind can be fresh and the wind can be ill everyone has mixed feelings about the wind the Scirocco the Santa Ana and the Mistral which sounds like mistress and minstrel all make you crazy you can blame the wind when you hate your job or beat your kids go off with your colleague for a dirty weekend but no one likes it when the wind quits who stops the chimes in the park installs the sailboats and the public fountains and the blades see spinning on the Prairie and gutter leaves halt running toward erosion and no breeze lifts the horse's tail or dries the sweat on a baby's neck the letter carrier has left his little truck open the wind is blowing away my debts I hope limes about rivers than the sea I don't like to swim in rivers true their lengths and bends trouble me if my chest touched against River weeds I would panic no I don't like to swim in rivers but I admire them for being relentless even blind rivers buried under cities are rivers that run just a few days a year some rivers create borders between States and nations some rivers stray from their courses were dammed from flowing to neighbors I very much like the word estuary and the thought of boats at low tide there and I appreciate how a river divides pest from buda Minneapolis from st. Paul or the banks someone decided were left in right a current is like a river in the sea when I was small I lived along the beach when I got caught in a Riptide a passing wave brought me home you know I was thinking when I was working on this poem about Neanderthals and then I went to an exhibit on the Andrew Thals and you know Neanderthals really have a bad reputation and it's really unfair if you think about it I mean everybody you know dismisses in the and roof falls but as his poem suggests Neanderthals were actually capable of creating great parts and beauty and perhaps they might have been the better among us before the Homo sapiens took over I guess we all have as they study it somewhere between two and six percent of Neanderthal DNA in us lines of evolutionary progress creatures of the earth we gazed upon the sky we straightened up and grew taller no more thistles and the palm were Knuckles in the dirt we liked the taste of meat and it made our brains and bodies strong some of us trap the herds and canyons some of us ran them off the cliffs some of us drew their deeds and caves and lit our walls with rendered fat I don't want to stand up I want to lie here in a lawn chair and pretend I am back at the Tahiti bar in San Tropez where rich people go naked in the sunshine just a little couplet here lines after a relationship then the sea closed around them as it does when nothing sails where something was I always like to try to get a Palmas only two lines or one line into my books to see if I get away with us just two more this is called the foreigner it is snowing in a city where it almost always snows under the arcades some distant version of myself my grandfather broke but dressed in a modern suits and a hat and long coat holds an umbrella a man of the early twentieth century he has not let yet learned to smile for pictures he asks in your language if you might have one of your cigarettes and you give him – he wants to place the extra one you gave him in the silver case in his pocket I have kept safe but for now you take a cigarette yourself and he likes it for you with the match he has kept dry in his long coat pockets neither of you wants to step out again in the snow he thanks you once more and it makes you feel good about yourself even if you have done terrible things to others that day I'll conclude with lines along a wild place I walked through the enterprise of weeds a crow for each of us stood mounted on a fence sometimes I miss everyone I ever loved when their faces reflect in the hard wide leaves of the magnolias their names like blossoms and their lives once so real and fragrant now like handkerchiefs beneath the trees if my dog were alive he might piss on them and I would have to yell at him not to if anyone were around if anyone were around I would say I had momentous news to tell but forget what it is I will ask the dog Woods to remind me what it means to live along the edges of the woods to be promiscuous but bare white flowers [Applause] you

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