Venom in the Veins

August 8, 2009

raceface copy


in the


It’s my property! Why, I paid $985 for this here piece of flesh, and I have the right to do what I want with it.

Pounded under the slave block’s gavel,

bid-$1-2-430 bid-$2-4-580 bid-$3-4850 bid-$5-6-1,000

& Sold, & Sold, & Sold, & Sold,

heart beats, heart beats, heart beats, heart beats

Four million hearts beating


For Life

For Greed

For Lust


the rhythm of planting, picking—


Turned into MONEY,


Poured into crops,

Fusing with the dirt


Raining from the sky—

Southern trees bore a strange fruit

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,

Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze,

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Across the street,

in the White Churches,





So if’in I want to rape it, hate it, mutilate it, that ain’t none of your business. I can even kill it if I want to ‘cause it’s mine, and you can’t stop me. Though me killin’ it would mean I was downright crazy given what I just paid for it. But when it gets old and useless, and I’ve gotten my money’s worth, I just might hunt it for fun. Now you just get on out of my way before I start to showin’ my hate for you, you anti-Christian piece of Northern trash! It’s in the Bible; they’re heathens, savages, inferior, don’t believe in Jesus, and even when converted, they still the sons of Ham. My preacher taught me the word of God. He should know. God’s never wrong, and We Southerners have God on our sidde [ssssss-slap]

God on our siiiiid- [sssss-slap]

God on our siiii- [ssss-slap]

God on our sssss- [ssss-slap]

God on ouuur- [ssss-slap]

God onnn -[ssss-slap]

“Oh, yes ye converted heathen, God has a message for thee; be meek and mild my child in the face of thy travails. Submit and repent; think only of Heaven, not this world, and the next will be yours.”

So said the Southern Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and cohorts.

(and the country whispers but that was so long ago; that was not us; I’m not to blame…. but look and listen and understand it is here now; it is racism; it is killing you, me, the haters and the hated—and yes, even most the ones that stand by, doing nothing)

The vomiting has begun


The bile is rising


The venom in the veins

Courses hardy


Throbbing, pulsing


Lub dub, Lub dub, Lub dub:

The throb of life calling for

MURder, MURder, MURder, MURder

chanting in a viperous tongue

slithering from

the Reptilian brain,



K I L L.

When did slavery end?

When did it end?

Physical fact,


State of mind?




As law?


Law enforcement?

But only the sightless believe

It ended in 1864.

Jim Crow’s reign, segregation, culture of terror, KKK, politicians, Good-White-Men-with-Family-Values. Black ink on White paper records 3,437 African-American lynched up to 1951. Not recorded: every Beating, Stabbing, Crippling, Broken bone, Fried human, Burnt house, Vigilantes Hunting in packs…..

Rising in the pride of the South, strong in their conviction, pleased with their Tradition, Southern Governors and Senators spoke out for what their cold, lizard hearts and squalid eyes and fetid brains claimed as Truth. the “Negro” is inferior. With God (& their ‘way of life’) on their side, they made sure no African American sat on a jury; lynchings took place with impunity as community picnic entertainment, photographed with pride—placed in the family album next to the wedding reception.

(and the country whispers….but that was so long ago… that was not us; I’m not to blame…. but mark and listen and understand it is here now; it is racism; it is killing you, me, the haters and the hated—the Lovers and the Loved—and yes, even most, the ones that stand by, doing nothing)

Woodrow Wilson, a racist Enforcer, segregated the federal government: 1902-1910. One man—the country followed.

1955, a 14-year-old Chicago boy visiting in Mississippi crossed an invisible “white’s only” boundary he didn’t even know existed. His punishment: eyes gouged out, beaten to death, then, finally, shot in the head, thrown into the Tallahatchie River, a 75-pound fan tied around his neck with barbed wire weighing his small body down. Only 54 years ago (and the country pretends… it was so long ago…but oh how wrong we are. It happened during my lifetime. And it was not the end.). Two men arrested, not held or punished; the haters enforced their reign of terror, and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI promulgated hate, intimidating civil rights workers, giving aid to lynchers, discrediting Martin Luther King, Jr., serving him up to the murdering mob.

1968, only 41 years ago, racism killed Martin Luther King, Jr.

1981, two KKK members in Alabama randomly chose to lynch 19-year-old Michael Donald. For the very first time, the killers were found guilty, but the prosecutor has been number 1 on the Aryan Nation hit list ever since. 1981, Only 28 years ago, during the lives of my children.

I beheld my caring, open-hearted lover


Every month, every week, every day, every hour

We strolled through a store

Sat together for coffee—or more.

Eyes glided blankly past her to see only me,

Ask me what I wanted

Fuss over me

Serve me

While she stood next to me:





Except in the Glares of the Police.

The Stares of the Guards

The Malevolence of the Whites

Sniggering, Blithering

As we passed by.

I learned to read

The nerve-quickened pulsing

at the edge

Of her jaw,

The muscles set










her throbbing, open heart


1998, three men, all members of a white supremacist prison gang, murdered James Byrd, Jr., a 49-year-old Texas father of three, who had accepted an early-morning ride home from work with the three men. Because it’s what white racists do, they attacked him, dragging him to his death behind their truck, then moseyed off to a barbecue. 1998,only 11 years ago, as the radical Christian Right gained its stranglehold on the Republican party, fought for religion in politics, anti-immigration, anti-gay, anti-everything “not them.” They’ve perfected the attack ad, blaming the “other,” hunting the scapegoat, preying on and harnessing the collective ugliness within us. And as they’ve discovered, there is more than enough to destroy this country without the need of a nuclear bomb. (and the country ignores….IT is notIT grows on hate, and the agony is ascending once again, again, and again, flooding the land.) going away…

Finally, on June 13, 2005, the US Senate formally apologized for its failure to previously enact a Federal anti-lynching law. All earlier attempts had been defeated by filibusters by powerful Southern senators. 2005, only 4 years ago (and the country sighs, it is over…Oh, how very wrong are we. Look anywhere; there         IT is).

And once again the lynching comes

as mobs find courage in numbers.

Have Faith for Faith’s sake,

preserve Tradition for Tradition’s sake

Hate for Hate’s sake

With God, Government, and Police on their side.

For as far back as we have evidence, humans have practiced human sacrifice: scapegoats, the pariah, the “other” to put upon them the blame and shame of the community, to be the sacrifice for the sins of all, originally to drive them out of the community and leave them to die—or ritually kill them in cleansing ceremonies. Human sacrifice for the rest of our sakes; human sacrifice to the gods. The one we know best is the dying/rising god, the god that promises immortality. The names may change but the promise of sin-free immortality remains the same: Osiris, Dionysus, Tammuz, Odin, Ishtar, Persephone, Baal—Jesus. Christians say Jesus is the last; THEY say Jesus took the sins of all so no one else would have to suffer; THEY say they follow him….and yet…and yet….and yet, THEY continue scape-goating—sacrificing others, projecting fears, hatred, anger, perverted thoughts onto entire populations.

What an excuse to commit genocide (Indians, Jews, Blacks, Muslims, Immigrants—take your pick).

What an excuse to kill ( so many to choose from).

What an excuse to be a vigilante (a buffet of life to slaughter).

What an excuse for murdering in the name of love.


The psychosis of humanity made manifest, running amuck, ranting, wrecking, reeking havoc, assaulting, lynching, Effacing to avoid facing themselves.

Playing God, they slaughter.

The herd hunts again,

Rulers of Deceit:

The Rogue and the Righteous

—The McPalins of the World—

Forging the grandiose


To Feast,


in rancid lies




Sludge in the drains—the slime—

Lining the social plumbing,

Lurking in the twisted shadows

Out of sight



Out of mind.

Left too long to rot and mold

In the grime

of history


Bubbles in repression,

Churns sour in our souls,

Flings out its tentacles for the light of day

Births hate from guilt,

Pain from shame,

Displaced blame gobbles the refusal to atone

No matter how hard we try to scrub the claims of conscience away,



Our Nemesis,

Our cyanide rage,

Our Gangrenous hate.

Crawling on the unmasked:


Church members,







Beasts craving to be fed Again




Their Country,


Their Young.

(With God on their side)

Thanks to:

Abel Meeropol for the lyrics Strange Fruit

The Southern Poverty Law Center:

Morris Dees, Joseph J. Levin, Jr., and Julian Bond,

Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, all those who’ve been hurt & still will,

All who’ve fought and still continue to

Charging Shame to:

All that aid & abet fear of those who are different

All that feed off hate

All that incite violence against those who disagree

All that are complicitous, consciously or not

Epilogue to Venom in the Veins:

In this time quickly labeled post-racial America, now that we have a Black president (more accurately, biracial), so many are eager to use him to ignore the poison running through our veins. In our wonderful post-racial coitus world, a summer camp of black children were denied use of a swimming pool they had contracted for before their “race” was known, and over 60% of African-American mortgage applicants were and are deliberately, systemically steered into “sub prime” predatory mortgage loans. According to well-known studies by the Federal Reserve Board and the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), African Americans are 250% more likely to get a loan with an “exploding interest” clause than white borrowers – and the higher the income and the better the credit rating of a Black borrower, the more likely the discrimination. And our esteemed president who once gave a speech broaching this carnivorous issue still gripping our nation? He smiles, grins, and gazes proudly upon Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, an honored guest of the Board of Directors of JP Morgan, owner of one of the most outrageous of the financial predators, Washington Mutual (Morgan/WaMu)—and as of last week, it just so happens that the NAACP is suing J.P. Morgan for “systematic, institutionalized racism in making home mortgage loans.” And the outrage over Henry Louis Gates being denied his 1st amendment rights by an obviously too powerful police person, was that really about racism? Or was that more about class. For in this country we worship money. And while Obama used to walk through the neighborhoods made destitute by the financiers he now pals with, he does nothing so simple as putting conditions on the banks being bailed out. No, he has once again made clear what he holds dear now. Even as he did when he chose the very architects of the financial crisis to guide us through it with the same policies that caused it, so has he shown again and again: class and money matter more to him than justice and addressing the race hatred still coursing through the hate breeding beast we call America.


Fibroid Pipes

July 12, 2009


Her doorbell works. Her phone works. Her heat works. Her plumbing works;
it aspirates, wheezes, and thwoofes—the galvanized copper pipes sweat
blood. Perfectly
natural, irony-red
blood, bleeding and osmosing through arterial, moil-aged disintegrating
pipes worldwide. It’s the way the world works. People never notice,
no, never notice
that the rust-crust layers
ironically rich are not rust and the
acrid metal smell is
bloodswaddled Pipes, radiating moldy, sour-spore cheese ….

young Chinese village girls,
feet-bound to the family farm, brother-beaten, birth to death, minds
bandage-wrapped tied to lovingly hand feed hungry baby silk worms [their own
children dumped in the closest city’s gutters] and coax forth threads for

A [jaundiced yellow] flower
blossom 100% woven silk jacket: on sale at Dillards now: $185.95, last year’s

She stops breathing as she peels stinking saffron blood-stained
bandages from the sink’s clogged throat, remnants of the
blood-soaked, urine
stained sheets her
AIDS-riddled lover, Patrick, had lain on? Had they not
burned long ago along with his body? His
blood, her love, their
mildewed memories—fibroid filaments—chaining, webbing, metastasizing through
her Pipes, into the
city’s and….

boys in the Sam Yang Vietnam Nike
factory make $1.60 a day, but it is below subsistence. They starve, body fat
melting into the shoe’s rubber souls-soles worth $159.99 to a suburban kid in
upper state New York, the fat globules greasing just the right amount of glide
quality [with friendly service provided by Pakistan, India, Korea….]. And the
workers’ life-giving
blood dripped down the factory drain to the sewage system
supplying irrigation on the local rice farms exporting grain feeding the fat in
the land of Milk and Honey and Big Rock Candy Mountain…..

In deathly dark dank recesses
her bed lie detritus dregs of denatured humanity: fingernail
clippings, hair threads, bone chips, clinging to dust balls quivering in the
far corners blown hither and thither with the hot, sweat-filled air fueled and
forged from furnaces in the meatpacking, food processing,
garment-skin-stitching interment-immigrant factories—the heartbeat of the
industrial North….

boiled in vats of recycled residue, remnants, and relics swept up
with sliced, diced, slivered and shivered phalanges —shucked of
skivvies, dead cells clinging, modestly, to gouged wounds, stripped skin
sent knuckle-dusted to the shop floors, face-mangled scabs scrubbed into
sloshing buckets, the proceeds slung into the food seasoned with blood in the
hum, suck, and thump-in-the-night-pumps of Upton Sinclair’s Chicago Jungle

exposed and bzzz shock discarded on the gov-controlled-abort.-history dump. Eraser
sweep the
streets clean for the flip, flop, flip, flap, flap of Mexican-made industry
garments Clinton-pimped by way of NAFTA, signed, sealed, delivered slave labor,
so you can have Calvin-baby-Klein and Ralphy boy Lauren’s designer jeans—back
at you sexy boys and girls for those oh-so stylin’ gilt guile leach-lusting topstitching
on white slim-trim stretch jeans [finger them in the store; buy them off the
Internet]: only $325, stitched-strung by Rosa Maria Martinez, a Maquiladora
worker paid 60 cents an hour…..

‘Tis the Season to be givin’ …. Addicted shopper sends her hand-made, hand-wrapped, rice paper lining packed via Fancy
Asian Gourmet, found
onlinejust: type, click, link click, enter, click, shopping cart,
compare site, best quality from computer to door
flick, flick hit, print.
Contents: four-noodle sampler with five mini-garnish sauces all golden glow
bowed, hand-looped. Imported from Vietnam: only $52. A foot stomping,
deliriously demented plugged-in buying, linked-in, your pay
all season bow-tied anytime. Factory. Billboard. Magazine ad targeted to your
zip code. TV commercial made just for your demographic. Internet wired
in, light popping, electric pulsing, twittering savory image, luscious words, [
insidious ideas…] vindicating props-to-gander-at. To expel the peanut packed, monstrous fibrous-horde, she slams it on the knobbly faucet and—flip, switch, link,
gurgle, google—all the Connecting
PiPes under- over-ground, intertwining, intersecting time/space meshing, spew
forth stocking stuffers rotted rats’ tails, crushed snails, diseased cells and
boys toys cheap and neat to please and squeeze wasted, crumpled bodies into
slag for the cement blocks, the hard- and soft-ware, the mixed and mashed
pixels—all—the market builds
on—and strings with bulbous lights blinking out the crushed american dreams
cycling and recycling from house to job to hyway and byway [paved, plumbed, and
broadcast], bursting forth, Pipe-puking, contaminating gifts for the Holidays,
Holly Lolly
Pop Days, the Season’s Greetings, Xmus, Xmax, Holy Days erected on:

Solstice Days, grow and reap days, nature cycling days,
Dying/Rising Gods Days

The days of Life, Love, Birth,
Death coursing/pulsing with our

sacred blood,

forever tainted blood,

usurped blood

dripping from one-upon-a-cross
devaluing human

bought and sold blood,

another product

banked on to spout Profit Pipes.

Circa 1985

Blood Banks tubing people with HIV-infected blood—cheaper than screening. Blood money speaking—louder than shouts, protests, and dying spillage
AIDS victims. Infection odds from transfusion: 1 in 487.

And Reagan’s Regime, with God on
their side, declared
AIDS a gay disease, wages of sin. He killed funding. When a
rich, morally pure, woman received the gift of death—tainted
blood—the lawsuit pressured banks to screen. The White House,
cloaked eight years in Christmas white, played Silent Night. That December,
her lover Patrick, not rich, unknown, one of many, died, phlegm
choked in winding sheets, amid the thousands unwinding ever since. The cause: a
truly priceless gift that Christmas didn’t bring. And the Band Played On;
bloomed dead red and pus ran sallow thick. There was no season for giving—or
forgiving. Blood in the streets of America, blood in the streets of Africa. And
Christmas, black, red recurring season of cooked books, layoffs, downsizing,
and Capitalist

, came and went, along with many more just
like them.

Circa 1994

FDA claims blood-bank HIV testing
not cost effective. Not mandatory. Consumers on the
FDA board? How ridiculous! Repeat after me:

Econ 101, Reaganomics

Trust the market, the market, the market.

Like God, like God, like God.

Invisible, Invisible, Invisible.

Have Faith, Have Faith, Have Faith.

Greenspan, Greenspan, Greenspan.

Ayn Rand, Ayn Rand, Ayn Rand

Bang! Market decision: House
rules; you, unknowingly, gamble with your life.
Three dollars. The cost
antigen testing would add to a unit of blood. Trust the Red Cross? Don’t bet on
it. Trust the Association of
Blood Banking Industry? Wouldn’t bet on it. Trust the CDC’s
calculations more cases are on the way, bank on it. Infection odds from
1 in 11,111.

Circa 2008

The Pipes still rumble, the blood still pours, the
wires hum, and all is well in our fantasy world as
Poof, a make-believe P.E.A.C.E prize, magically minted in the
mind of a [radical right] make-believe compassionate evangelical preacher of a
mega-grossing, mega-church, socially tuned to the season of pretend concocts an
award for P.E.A.C.E. that isn’t for PEACE:
Rev. Rick Warren sought to give what no one could to Georgie Porgie W.

‘Tis a medal whose initials stand
for: Partner with existing
churches; Equip servant leaders; Assist
[not alleviate?] the poor;
Care [not cure?] for the sick; and Educate
the next generation [in his oh-so-make-no-mistake-about-it Evangelical,
anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-any female who does not submit in everything to her
husband, everyone but those who believe as I do are going to hell literal
interpretation of the Bible, evolution doesn’t exist Religion],. ‘Tis given for
global work in a/the/one/any/maybe: pandemic diseases, extreme poverty,
illiteracy, self-centered leadership and/or spiritual emptiness to his friend
and ally, who he frequently advised but never thought saying torture not a
Christian idea. Now why is that? For as an Evangelical, evil-doers must be
punished and his nonnegotiable issues: abortion, stem-cell research, gay
marriage, cloning and euthanasia. And while thousands of evangelicals got a
fast-track email down the pipe and into the box reminder just in time for the
2004 Bush re-election bid, the rest of us got the PR package.

‘Tis for AIDS Help [?!]. Note: work on AIDS in Africa, not the
US. [I’ll give you a hint in case you didn’t get it already: Africa, ‘cause
it’s ah, maybe ah, a heterosexual problem there—oh, and of course, the intertwining
of ooh, la la,
$, power, insemination and
for all on the gravy planes and
lightening news Flash! of anti-choice, ‘tis awarded to, Drumrolllllll, sliding
trumpet, clash cymbal, hit spotlight: shucks, two-war, economic collapse, let’s
eat cake while people die in Katrina, and so much more—Bush. Ah, gosh, not me,
he smirked, in his sleek, high- thread count, fine weave linen, not on

The deed: blood money for
generic drugs to Africa, perhaps saving two million. The cost/gain
ratio: blocking family planning, banning handing out or talk of
condoms, forbidding prevention education, indoctrinating
religious guilt, disregarding nutrition, side-effects, poverty, female
emancipation from rape and prostitution in the spread of
AIDS, A gift of damning stupor, ignoring that African nations funding
for education and prevention have lower infection rates. A
gift of Christian Faith: Belief
without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things
without parallel
. And a nice tidy side-line for Rev. Warren: co-opting the
Anglican schism supporting the Nigerian Anglican bishop in anti-gay lawsmak[ing]
it illegal for gay men and lesbians to form organizations, read gay literature
or eat together in a restaurant” and to withdraw from the Anglican church over
including gays. But, as he also says, he supports equal rights for gays, just
not marriage [Do I have a hearing problem? Have my lines got crossed? But no,
one set runs on money and the other on sweat.] And on Dancer and Prancer and
Doner and Blitzen—as Warren with new-found dollars to spend, sped quickly to
Virginia, Rwanda, and Nigeria….oh, not for
AIDS sufferers, but for rebelling Anglican-hating gays.

Alas, again ‘tis the
season for
bloodshed as wars rage, bashing minorities grows and ads accuse
victims of the cause. Not satisfied with Christ’s
blood, with a faith
founded on
blood—stolen pagan blood—lusting with vampiric dreams of everlasting life. O’ yea
worship death in the mire of
blood-covered swords, crusaders and avengers, frothing anger and
hate. Rev. Warren grins and he grins, turns and he turns, unwinding the same
incestuous, corrupt linen sown with a hidden [malignant] blossoming pattern:
not in the fancy lizard suits of a Falwell or a Robertson, but the flowery
sugary-cane fields, pigment-dyed, Old Testament
Red, 100% cotton
fiber, still standing, still marching, still spitting in the
blood of others, looking
for his Purpose Driven Empire, proclaiming Christianity as the future for
Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Ancient
blood, ancient stink of rusted iron strings whipping up cries for

bloodothers blood—gays,
non-evangelicals, humanists, feminists, MUSLIMS: selected sinners seen through
the stye burning in his God’s eye.

‘Tis not for me.

I will celebrate the Solstice—





spinning in the

moon and the sun

and the winter,

the changing summer heat,

in the riddle of the


in the earth revolving

and Galileo Gazing,

Searching the heart

of the heavens:



Symbolized in the inexorable
dying/rising gods of imagination. And the momentary, fragile spark of our
little lives against the scintillating background of stardust to which we will
return—dust to dust, ashes to ashes……. Recycled Be. ‘Tis that Season, the
eternal season of understanding the suffering of every human’s
blood in this blood-drenched world
in which I will commingle my own. And not one dollar will I mete out to a
season of
bloodshed and plunder.

Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

Randy Shilts, And the Band Played On

Bush award:

Ambroise Bierce definition of Faith

The Anglican Church Integrity site

The Guardian

Timothy Kincaid

My 2 Cents Worth


Slaying Heritage

May 27, 2009




I am a woman


No history,

bequeathed by ghostly ancestors,

Abandoning origins,


amid the 22 million




through the cavernous,

Ellis Island halls

sweating human misery


They willed to me:

no stories, no customs, no heirlooms,

no words from the languages

of their births.




waves of fear fleeing hostility and bigotry


sweaping Europe




They willed to me


a handful of sepia-faded faces—










Dirty Immigrants.



by the American dream of oblivion,

they requested their pasts be cremated

along-side them.

And so it was done, in honor of their

broken backs

rendered in the melting pot—

skin worn to shoe leather.


Probed for labor fitness,








Mass processed.



at Ellis Island,

(aliens) (untrustworthy)

Indentured servants for the fat old English Man that vouchsafed them,

(Eastern European—different)


for Northern Factories.

Scurrying to his Summons:

Kykes, Hymies, Shylocks, Krauts, Jerrys….

(At least Not Chinks, banned 1862)

One more group exploited

(And Not Japs, barred 1902)



Toat that barge,and lift that bale.



Bull-penned in Factory towns

Shilled in Factory stores,


before Northern Europeans only quotas 1924,

legislated, legalized more

discrimination, detention and deportation as the norm,

the very sentiments my grandparents

tried to bury before begetting progeny.

They’d all been lured by metaphors

of streets paved with gold,

Only to find beneath their feet

Not even wooden planks,

Just shovels, mud and jumbled stones

To learn that servitude


they be the ones to

Pave them.


I want to dredge up their ashes,

And miniscule,

fragemented bones,

Festively guilding them to tie into my hair.

Ornaments and Amulets,

bearing witness to my origins.


But their inscrutable faces murmur,

Let dead relatives be.


They do not understand my need.

You are the last, they accuse,

as if my only worth lay

in the passing on of genes.


Soon enough, they sigh,

soon enough you will

also be

a handful of dusty ashes

meaningful to no one

and nobody

will ever know you were.

Buried in the Nothingness

Of the


They call America

The Shearing Cuts

May 20, 2009

The Shearing Cuts

shearing_cuts copy

Snowing outside—bright, glazed white porcelain snow glinting diagonal streaks across the dull, matte white, horizontal blinds. Warm inside, light grey steamy mists rising perpendicular to darker grey, vertical heating pipes. Cold sunlight crosses hot lamp light, casting a lace collar on the faded, ash-blonde wood floor. A chiaroscuro painting.

My black hair drifts in clumps to the floor—point, counterpoint, snippets alternating with the white, old man’s hair falling outside. A mulch-covering ritual of renewal.

Clip, clip, snip scissors, the shears shearing. A perfect haiku: white spring snow and me, thick, black hair on a diminutive Japanese girl. Or, thick, harsh snow burning a cold January day and me, tall, heavy-boned black woman, crimps of wiry hair, hair in glassy, black waves—an ocean tangling into the African ivory coastline. The snow’s cruel light gleams, thick and gagging, a chalky milkshake, threatening to choke and kill. Or, a dense, onerous snow trudging across the Russian Steppes, asphyxiating the land, crushing the houses, and me, moon-faced, unblinking—staunch. And inside I am warm, surrounded by tufts of hair, molting clumps from a stuffed Panda Bear.

I tenderly collect hair to braid into a rug, to cover with dust, cover with cat hair, cover as it covers—to be worn down back into the elements. Or, this gathering of hair, I will weave as the bottom of a wicker chair, supporting friends that come and go, supporting dust, supporting cat hair, supporting as it is supported. Thus start the years of collecting hair, hair constantly pruned short to fulfill such purposes.

I beg (steal) hair. Rescued from lovers, from friends, from strangers, …. swept from beauty parlors finely stained wood, from barbershops dust-covered, dull linoleum floors, from waste baskets in bathrooms, from brushes and combs patiently culled without breaking the knots and tangles. Workrooms deep in drifting, shifting color-spectrumnal hair—cotton white to Tupelo honey, Poppy red to the deep purple of ripe plums, leisurely loops to ringlets, electric shock waves to water flows. A wondrous fey-lock palette.

Space and history, I weave, time and emotion, I weave—shirts, jackets, dresses, pants…. Chiaroscuro body maps lined with purple amethyst Chinese silk. Hair-knittes huggings holding humans against the cold, the dirt, the outside that sometimes taps, sometimes scratches against my windows. My closests spill stories of dead cells shorn to be renewed, journeys of celebrations and mournings, of beginnings, changes, and ends—people I have never met, people I thought I knew, people I knew for only a while, and the very few I knew forever in the rhythm of their heartbeat. No, they never stay….. But I have their hair—and all that encompasses.

1980s, revised 1990