The very vanity goes into the guts.
It is just the beginning, you will not wake.
You threw me away like a father
because they are in paintings somewhere
in the house. You’d think sun
was your fault. My head bowed
so intent on the evening.
The street is no switchblade to swell.
Hold me in the brown pools that map the road.
This face, the dream of burning paper
we had to draw on the flowered curtain
by accident, through a telescope, smoked glass.
They sky shuts in their heads, I think.
I know the night:
The one that blows your brains out.
This poem is 1/10 in a series. Read the description of the series:
Jackmovin: Poems & Nonessentials for the Lovestruck (2006)
During the final semester of my MFA in 2006, I was fortunate to take a poetics seminar with the generous & incredibly smart Professor Randall Babtkiss. The seminar title: Unlocking the Voice: Using Fragments and Re-Enactments in the Narrative of Personal Discovery. Much of what happened that semester continues to inform my poetics. We read & discussed & dissected & cut-up & reimagined & sometimes repurposed Shakespeare’s sonnets & Anne Carson’s translations of Sappho’s fragments. We viewed & responded to Cindy Sherman’s work at SFMOMA. We pursued our own voices through the work & words of others. This project here, Jackmovin: Poems & Nonessentials for the Lovestruck (2006), was a semester-long project of cut-up & collage. While I’m still uneasy about the whiteness of the seminar bibliography, I trust that I was able to bring much of my critical sensibilities to the table that semester.
NOTES FROM THE FRONTLINES OF HIGHER EDUCATION
My First Day of Class. The culture of the classroom is schizophrenic. It’s amazing how our educational system has shaped our behaviors, whether we are teachers or students. The power dynamic is both tempting and offensive. Tempting because anything that I say—even if I simply repeat or reiterate a comment that one of the students has made—is gold. Gold! Straight up unquestionable. Half the time, I have no idea what I’m talking about. Okay, I’ll admit: most of the time, I have no idea what I’m talking about.
In the spirit of beginnings, specifically, the beginning of fall semester, I would like offer a series of reflections that I wrote in 2006 during my first semester as an adjunct professor, or contingent faculty member, or member of the teaching proletariat, for a private university in the Bay Area. I wrote these reflections and e-mailed them to a small list of homies who work in education on these dates in 2006: August 29, October 12, October 17, October 26, November 7, and November 30. Several sections, various courses, various institutions later, 9 years later, I’m still hustling, still teaching, still contingent. I will post all reflections on the dates they were originally written and e-mailed, only we are now 9 years later. I’m a sucker for dates sometimes, temporality all the time. I made some slight revisions. I also hope that I’m not violating the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). If I am, sorry.
I find two main journalists who covered the case–one from the Detroit Free Press & one from Ann Arbor News. In the Ann Arbor News articles, the tone of the reportage changes. My mother says that that reporter wasn’t a fan of theirs until he interviewed them & began showing up everywhere they were. They = Narciso & my mother.
There are letters of support addressed to my mother from incarcerated men in North Carolina.
Everyone’s always mad at the communists. My mother’s attorney was upset with the left’s critique of the U.S.
This afternoon, I feel like an actual researcher.
It’s not like I haven’t dug through this archive before. I have. However, this time, there is not an immediate end in sight.
This archive is my inheritance: a blue bin full newspapers, letters, diaries, videos, & other ephemera; two boxes of photo albums.
So, as I mentioned before, I was invited to Honolulu by the Philippine Nurses Association of America to give a talk about my mother’s case. Here are some notes I jotted down. I hope to return to them in some way, somehow.
I met Phoebe Andes, founder of PNA New Jersey. Immediately after my talk, she asked for the mic & said, “Jason, I’m emotional.” She explained that nurses in New Jersey kept talking about organizing. They pushed themselves to organize in support of my mother & Filipina Narciso. “I remember,” said Phoebe Andes, “the papers. We had a paper that says, Anatomy of the Narciso-Perez case. I still have that. That’s what we studied in our meetings.”
These thoughts, two weeks ago.
1. There is no free wifi @ #HNL.
2. What is undeniably visible in the service economy at #HNL, but also all over Honolulu, in many many so many places all over the U.S. & elsewhere around the globe: Filipina & Filipino hands/labor: LaHaina Chicken Company, Cold Stone, Starbucks, baggage claim, souvenir store, etc.
Remembering Elaine Joy de la Cruz
(August 6, 1978 – October 6, 2003)
1. It is sometime in 2001. Christine & I hit up an open mic at SDSU. If I remember correctly, the event was titled “Free Speech.” It was a collaboration between Filipino students at UCSD & SDSU. If I remember correctly, one of the drafts of the fliers we hand-wrote said, “Free Speach.” Joy de la Cruz, in all black, I think, steps to the mic. She commands the crowd with her voice, her confidence, her intelligence, her undeniable sultriness. Weeks later, Christine & I, shy as a mug, fanboying & fangirling before such terms were made so popular, approach the Joy de la Cruz at the Cross-Cultural Center. Hey, we say. We think you’re awesome. Would you like to perform at Magkasama? Yes, says Joy de la Cruz. Christine & I feel pretty cool.
2. It must be 2002, or early 2003. Dianne is on stage in Price Center Plaza tearing the mic to shreds. Her poem is a protest against the trafficking of Filipina women. I think this is how it happens: Dianne affirms, “We are not for sale.” A frat boy in the distance says, “How much?” Or something to the effect of, “I’ll buy you.” Moments later, Joy de la Cruz jumps on stage, grabs the mic & dedicates her poem, “Come On,” directly to the frat boy. We are reminded that this poem is a lyrical molotov cocktail. We are reminded that Joy de la Cruz ain’t nothin to fuck with. Joy de la Cruz stares the frat boy down throughout the entire poem! There goes the pride of the white frat boy. There goes his cool. There he is, in his red, now pink, now red-faced shame. That’s Joy de la Cruz up there, our sister-friend.
3. I’m not sure when this is. But I do know it’s during the Galoka days. So, I’m going to safely say it was sometime between 2002 & 2003. We are somewhere, sometime, walking somewhere else. Joy turns to me & says, It’s sad that people have to talk about their day jobs & then say that they are poets.
Just outside of a mini fashion boutique, three Japanese men unbox several shiny white mannequin parts & assemble them. One of the men, white mannequin arm in his hand, paces about & directs the other two men by pointing with the white mannequin arm. (Mannequin already looks plural in my eyes, sounds plural in my head & feels plural on my tongue.) Only one mannequin, which is resting on a cardboard box, resembles a body ready to be draped in an expensive flower-printed something.
Should I eat ice cream before my shuttle arrives?