consuelacooks

cooking, poetry, and unapologetic intense moments in a life

Tag: Memphis

Coke cans and Swiss cake rolls

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When I was six I decided to run.
So I made a plan  for a decent getaway.
Saint Peter’s uniform was really more of a jumper.
A plaid v stemming from my waist and covering my shoulders.
I had not yet mastered buttons,so no undershirt was applied.
I could not reach the sock drawer, and did not yet
know how to tie more than one criss-cross
So shoes were moot too, I was sure.
I retrieved a hefty bag from under the sink,
and kissed each stuffed animal as I plunged them into the plastic.
I went to the soda drawer, figuring I would need at least a six pack
I had miles to go after all, and a new life to start.
It was heavy, and I knew it. I packed light after that–
only pringles and some swiss cake rolls.

It was a sad thought, leaving everyhting I’d ever known,
But we are all writing our own book, and I knew
I couldn’t take this for much longer.
Who could?

I said goodbye to my Mother’s door. I would miss her.
I could hear him snoring off the Scotch, still.
I thought of Christmas coming, and maybe I would miss presents.
I welled up at this, but knew I had to follow through.

Into the night I went. No shoes, no shirt, and a Catholic School jumper.
My hefty bag of supplies to carry me into the new world.
I stepped out into the hot Ybor night, brave.
The humidity licked my face, reminding me of the coming sunrise.

It must have been a couple of hours before Mother found me sleeping
a street over, in a neighbor’s convertible. I had stopped to
momentarily rest, seeing the plush back seat.
My bag ripped when I had to start dragging it, only a few houses away from my own
and gave my mom the trail of stuffed animals, coke cans, and swiss cake rolls
that led her to my oasis.

I didn’t know how many more hefty bags I would fill by 44.
I didn’t know how welcoming a plush oasis felt.
words wash welts and whelping clean away.
And Summer makes it all new again in Memphis.

 

Tami Sawyer said

memphis-statues-come-downTami Sawyer said

So we start again.
Nathan and Jefferson came down.
The newspaper said,
“Mayor Strickland, City Council and city attorneys deserve much credit for their years of patient persistence.”

(A pause to let it sink in who was credited for the win)

Tami Sawyer said,
“–they felt they were superior to black people and their treatment of black people was odious at best, no matter what Nathan Bedford Forrest did when he got dementia. Don’t Give A fuck, and you can print that. ”

(A pause to let it sink in who was responsible for this win)

And before they came down, she said,
“I don’t care what happens to them. If you pull them down and they turn to dust, I’m sorry. People want me to be politically correct about it, but I do not care as long as they no longer stand in the city of Memphis.”

(A pause for you to consider who was responsible for the longevity of these statues casting shadows on children)

It turns out we don’t need a Delorean for time travel
just a flight delay, a scent on midday breeze.
A plush pillow with a thread bare
a freckled kid with an AR-15
a random Memphis flurry on a cold morning
looking into the shooter’s den at the Lorraine
staring at the beautiful barista who looks like Erykah Badu
dancing with family at a night club, then praying for your life

Let’s get back to wildness in this year.
Talking back, taking back, taking the opportunity cry out against
a hooded man who calls hismself supreme, forgetting his pseudoscience
when he unknowingly sings that Marvin Gaye song
to his silenced manicured fearful Stepford wife
before performing the fornication that he believes will spawn
the dominant race.

Let’s wear defiance like a wound that when opened strikes the bigots blind
paint Memphis like Kehinde Wiley would
Languorous, wealthy in fabrics, grace
Melanin in swirls, libidinous in words, grace
Let our lens be warped for hope
we are the new world.

You, poets, write a man, gynic, maverick, fertile and bursting
You, poets, echo a woman, jock, gallant, resolute, full with new life
You, workers, create a tactile masterpiece of rage,
then keep it from those who want it, need it.
You, Queers and Queens, parade your music of the spheres,
teach us your bloom, your elegance
You Spartans, sharpen your swords, and your pens. It’s time.
You, students, walk out and let them know you are done
being fucking afraid to learn

We mix our bloods in our babies making rainbows,
both antidote, chemical warfare
We, two-fisted, pound our history into the backs of those
who, head-hidden, die off like chanting raptors
ripe for the welcoming rebirth of earth that will only remember them
as fertilizer for hydrangeas.

The cynics say there is an art to stocking the cache.
Reaping repose and required wealth with a click.
Substituting stuff for status, serving rapacity before the homeless
Serving rapacity before those who are differing shades
of brown, black, cocoa, tawny, fawn, ginger, amber
Before those who love differently, learn differently, worship differently
Forgetting mouths, hands, bodies, that serve,
forgetting that they are strong,
forgetting the danger of
thier inherent and righteous brilliance.

You fill your mouths, coffers; the artists in avarice.
You have no idea what is coming.

The bridge still stands, majestic.
The statues are coming down, Delta town.
The poets still go to the theatre, the welfare, the doctor, and the judge
and we sing a song of
judicious enchantment.
A song of glory now,
and surely glory to come.

 

Today there was Tea

Today there was tea.
Some lavender, a few magnolia blooms, a siren and a song of sorrow.
It steeped with fever, waiting for the moment
It slipped into the cup, subtly steaming
with fog of uncertainty, ultramarine
It blinded her as she sipped,
accompanied by the Memphis Sun.

This day curled, doleful in her dressed lap
Purred with necessity, yawned with thirst
Blinked in the same Sunbeam,
Forgetting the smell of Maine Solstice
the taste of  Midsummer madness in the barn.

She drank it down, only wincing a bit
at the scattershot sensation happening inside
her petite mouth.
Brown, red, and smooth,
The dregs spelled
SYMPHONY.
and
SERVICE.

Startled, she bounced slightly, purging her lap of her familiar.
She was left with only the Sunbeam,
this Delphic message,
and the aftertaste of sorrow, tart, like Ohio Blackberries.

Her lap, still warm with need of rain.
Cooled by the Four O’Clock Tennessee breeze.

 

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Painting by Rob Hefferan

 

“Every man’s memory is his private literature.” ― Aldous Huxley

The Four Agreements are:
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best

I learned about the Four Agreements one summer while working in the Berkshires from my friend Tom. A Toltec Shaman named Don Miguel Ruiz published them in a book in 1997. Tom would often climb a nearby mountain and play a flute.

This was the same summer my best friend’s stepfather was hit by lightning in his canoe, along with his nephew, both killed, and drug to the bottom of a lake in Ocala by alligators, only to later be identified by dental records.  This was the same Summer I once again gave servitude to a company I worked for, as, starstruck I listened to it’s elders for guidance, hoping that they would give me wisdom on how to grow up. I just wanted someone to tell me things like, “Don’t do drugs.” or ask if I knew where babies came from. No dice. I learned much about being a teacher, figuring things out on my own, and how to allow heroes to step off of the pedestal every once in a while to give them a break. Heroism was as exhausting for them as my need for a hero was for me.
This is the same Summer I slept only hours a night, seeking solace in the people who lived  most extremely. Everything was liberally done. Including damage. Facebook reminded me of this Summer today.

Facebook loves to remind you of things, and also today it reminded me that three years ago today I was in the Giants stadium in San Francisco. I took a job with a theatre company out there, being hired with stars in my eyes by a beautiful, charismatic, brilliant leader.

I will remember a few things about that place:

Mount Tamalpais : I climbed and climbed and climbed. I was searching so desperately for some warmth in this place I had come for work. I mean, there was no way for it to live up to expectations, and the self loathing, reinforced by leaders, was verbose. Mount Tam was a metaphor for the EXTREME sadness I was feeling, the worthlessness I had assigned myself. I was trying to get up and out, trying to see the world more clearly.

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The Pacific: Never have I walked so much on a beach. Never have I thrown so many questions to a body of water. And never have I considered pulling a Jeff Buckley more than in these weeks.

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Fort Point : The production I worked on took place here, and inside the walls you could find the signatures of all the men who were at the ready in the 1800’s for a war that never came. I learned every curve, every stone, every ghost.

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Golden Boy Pizza,  John, and Jamie: I knew already that I loved one of these yahoos, and the Jamie came later, brilliant, with a madman’s eyes, a poet’s heart, and a sailor’s soul. These two gentlemen, the patterns of good men, unknowingly kept me alive these months.

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The Giants : By God, they might be the most disappointing team in MLB right now, but they were a glorious constant then. There was nothing like sitting against a redwood in a forest with a game being funneled into my ears. There was something to root for. There was a home team. Watching a no-hitter in that stadium was the highlight of my Summer.

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Facebook also reminded me:

Nine years ago today Michael Jackson died.

One year ago I was on Peak’s Island saying poetry to a new crowd.

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Seven years ago, I was getting ready to perform at the Eno River Festival in North Carolina with Rebecca, still eating fire, still being a Carolinian and a Nickel Shakespeare Girl.  Still loving and being in love with one of the best friends I ever had, and ever will have in this life or any after.

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Four years ago I was cooking for a family in the Berkshires for side money alongside one of the dearest, most rock-hard strong women I have ever known.

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They became dear to me -to us- this family, and we became family to them. Sadly less than a year later, the patriarch took his own life, just like his father before.

 


One year ago my friend John was playing Lear in our show Dark Rooms. He knew he was dying, even then. A few weeks later, he was gone, and we were rehearsing a play he financed-literally his dying wish- about the first poet and the first prophetess. We spoke his name every day, and did our very, very best every moment. People came. People fell back in love. People fell in love for the first time. People grieved.

 

I am grateful for all of this, painful, joyful, wince-worthy, and formative. I hope I’m getting better at the four agreements. Thank God there won’t be a test.

“The time will come when diligent research over long periods will bring to light things which now lie hidden. A single lifetime, even though entirely devoted to the sky, would not be enough for the investigation of so vast a subject… And so this knowledge will be unfolded only through long successive ages. There will come a time when our descendants will be amazed that we did not know things that are so plain to them… Many discoveries are reserved for ages still to come, when memory of us will have been effaced.”
― Seneca, Natural Questions

 

 

How many synonyms are there for affection?

On a Saturday morning, effortless
We were 18 year-old forty somethings.
unmistakable giggles
stories of bloodsheds and watersheds
bedheads, retreads, some reds and blues and my God
the unsaid, the apparent, the ready the resonance.
The path of the empath, the love swelling scenes of midnights and
florida forlorn kids, pounding those warrior days with
what it took to keep breathing amidst the certain uncertainties that
left us breathless, those crazy albatross pains
the colic of adolescence, the way we wove
our secrets into each day
and let them set with humid sun, burning in
shades of city and wreck.

Our sides were burning with want, all of us.
All we knew was heat and water, spaceships and tree swings.
We were bred for this. This. This
shade of indigo. some desire of the unmapped, the
Chartless seduction submerged in the
sweetest trust of childhood playfellows
now with the most minute of wrinkle lines.
the new breath of honey
A lexis of kisses, lost loves,
car payments and some self-examination:
really the only true distance, you know?
I can’t explain the pull, I don’t need to.
The propulsion, palpable, makes it easy.
The conversation, easier.
The same eyes, mouth, and laugh
The history of us, the heart journey to Mercury,
Mars, Africa, Eden, Abyss of
trying to figure the fucking thing out.
the solid ground under our feet we can stand on
hearing a familiar voice, (one I adore)
without losing  balance
without trying to qualify why we find it comfortable to stand still.
why it’s enough to understand the shape of your hand
and remember it in mine while singing together
on some stage at 16 feeling our feet under us, even then.
Even then, even now, the ease is all.
The curiosity is filling the cat.
Willing travel, and a feeling of flutters.
A thought of a what-if-butterfly kiss
a hand solidly resting on the low of my back.
a slow dance in some music hall, or a walk in the rain.
or maybe, just a hunt of Memphis Town, and a friendly tour guide.
I really don’t have any idea what this urge is.
I’m not going to question. I’m not going to shove it down.

The clearest expectation for us all now is to stay alive until we don’t, and find each others’ eyes. We find the hand and hold it tight for dear life, because by God, it’s time. We laugh and eat days and nights, and sing songs loud.

All else is time, and all is all.
And it’s short, you know?
how we touch, how we hide, where we can get to, and where we are to go.
the thing is, mostly of most,
to admire someone and wish them with you
is to see the underside of the Gods.
The places they secret away for the most amorous and best mortals
The ones who will carry on the work of
loving like they did, the Gods,
The demigods. The deities, The Titans, the giants, and the poets.
With Athenian chastity,
The patience of Daphnis and Chloe, waiting for the storm, wishing to be whole
Writing us, sans plot
Charting the path with Artemis-like precision,
(Catch and release, catch and release)
We imagine the Aphrodite in us, sweet friend.
Thirty years seem to speak volumes in the silence.

Or perhaps just a day, a breath of what it feels to be home.
laying on that stage.
staring up, looking at our broken lights,
wishing we were more in control of our life, our bodies
wishing for a slower dance, another field trip
another bus ride, another chance to sing songs
in the chorus room at lunch.

Maybe we are just laying on the stage again.
Humming songs in seraphic harmony
Getting those goosebumps we did
When we knew that our sounds,
mine and yours,
made us more immortal than any God
more beautiful than a Magnolia,
bursting in wet bloom.
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Two years of a march (Portland, Pulse, Memphis, the Sun)

It was nine in the morning that first year
JJ and I had tied one on, dancing with beautiful women
Deep into coastal night
(only after walking into that curious little store with many rooms)
I walked the Mile, flowers in hair, colors of the rainbow.

I loved all of us. The sea. CALL JOE blazing on the time and temperature sign.
And it was there in the bed of a truck.
It was slick and shiny, blazing rainbows in all directions.
I was new, but you wouldn’t know it. We all had a job.

Just unraveling it took an hour. Hundreds helped.
It covered the whole square and then some.

It smelled of coffee, revolution.
late-night fits of artistic frenzy.
The AIDS epidemic. Harvey Milk.
Brandon Teena. Matthew Shepard.
Backstreet Cafe. Otherside. Upstairs.
Augusta. Montreal. West Virginia. Moscow.

By touch you could feel Dale McCormick, Gia, Nancy.
Baldwin, Polis, Frank. Michaud. Maloney.
You could feel the tangent of hatred interwoven, turned to deep blues.

You could taste Portland rigor. The sweat of activism.
The nerve, the nerve of this tiny town in the whitest of states.
The Oddysean journey for voice and a patch of land.
40 blizzards, a kiss, the grace given by old white men to marry.
A child was cradled there too. Surrounded by love, and the purest of songs.

We carried it, danced under it, wept into it.
Let go of it for another year.

The second year there were different names.
Stanley Almodovar III, age 23
Amanda Alvear, 25
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Antonio D. Brown, 30
Darryl R. Burt II, 29
Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Luis D. Conde, 39
Cory J. Connell, 21
Tevin E. Crosby, 25
Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Deonka D. Drayton, 32
Mercedez M. Flores, 26
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Juan R. Guerrero, 22
Paul T. Henry, 41
Frank Hernandez, 27
Miguel A. Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Jason B. Josaphat, 19
Eddie J. Justice, 30
Anthony L. Laureano Disla, 25
Christopher A. Leinonen, 32
Brenda L. Marquez McCool, 49
Jean C. Mendez Perez, 35
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Kimberly Morris, 37
Jean C. Nieves Rodriguez, 27
Luis O. Ocasio-Capo, 20
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Eric I. Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Christopher J. Sanfeliz, 24
Xavier E. Serrano Rosado, 35
Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Shane E. Tomlinson, 33
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Luis D. Wilson-Leon, 37
Jerald A. Wright, 31

We carried that flag amidst SWAT teams.
We were not afraid, but really, we still looked.
Over shoulder, behind.
The police did too. We all were reminded of how
the carrying of this, this symbol
this mantra, this, this multitude
is a blessing, a gift, and act of extreme love
it’s so threatening, really.
All those rainbows and hearts, all the beautiful people,
screaming with pride and adoration for their bodies,
their beats, their bravado, their babies.
More terrifying than bombs, it seems. Scarier than the rapture itself, it seems.
This love is infectious, liberal, whole.

Run for the hills, they are coming. And they are probably well dressed.

A year more, and in Memphis I sit calmly, not knowing my town.
feeling smaller than before. Feeling subdued.
Without the invincibility of Portland.
Without the ocean, stripped of the joyful nights of that town.
But I know what it is to rebuild, by God I do know that.
But I do think I want to feel it in my fingers again.
That gorgeous emblem. My friend’s hand in mine.
The awe and majesty of it all. The many tears wept in vigil.
The candle of protest dripping wax onto my palm.

Well, at least we know there are people available for impeachment.
they wave another flag, wear different hoods in secrecy.
There are injustices that still appall,
and poverties beyond imagining.
Right. Here.
Right in this 901 snatchy homeland of the blues.
So it’s time to get back to fucking work I guess,
and leave the pining for some other whiny freckled short girl.
Roll up the sleeves, and write some anthems.
No rest for the lonely, they say.
and for the wicked, it is only a matter of time.
There’s shit to do, and parks to clean.
Kids who don’t eat.
The action is all. It’s like molasses here,
but the guns are quick, the hunger quicker, the trafficking quickest,

the homicide meter running.

so, dignitaries, I’ll see you on the court.
make sure to bring a snack.

 

Dreaming big, and dainty, winsome, poet-honey.

Sometimes its the sound of it. The way it drags across skin, sand and other deterrents
Sometimes its the perfect way it slides into spots, unaware
Sometimes its the way it shoves down into the horizon, plowing day into inky black
Sometimes its the way it slows me as a walk out Midtown door in morning time

Last night I dreamt of someone next to me
In t-shirt sheets whispering instructions
On how to get to Mexico. It wasn’t so very far.
Completely unlit we only shared territory and exhalation
Wilting blue covering head neck chin and so forth
We vaulted the window with unseen pinions,
Alighted in some desert place.
I could see who it was then.

I was surprised you followed me here.
My compromise for Mexico was justified and
the scorpion dancing the jig, told me
we didn’t have far to go
You picked a far off orange tree for rest
And my palm was traced by your forefinger, unique
“-comer de mi boca, comerme mi peligro.”

It was a subtle kiss when it landed. Thirty seconds or more
We were less than an inch lip to lip.
Then the distance closed,proximity was everything
It tasted of three things:
ice, lime and sweet honey.
You whispered a small prayer, there, over my eyes
some Latin ditty meant to seduce
( Your hands rested in chastity on my sunburned knees)
(My hands, aching, did not rest, but remain good at heart).
When my lids lifted back over my eyes, of course, you were gone.
Gone to some other dream, I suppose.
Ginger, freckled, Sandman.
And again I was in some foreign place filled with wet trees
And fog like fingers, alone.
The sun was makin his descent, and I heard some creature moan for moon

Call me back. I ‘m gonna be baptized
By that rain, hold it holy, like the Grotto, in my hands
and pray for economic mercy, digging in the dirt mercy,
medicinal mercy, theatrical mercy
I’m gonna burrow my black head into those metabolic fantasy trees
I’m gonna have to be sucked
sucked into that river again
where I have to swim for light
where I have to find my feet, lashes, breasts
again.
skin brown, freckles ablaze, muscles sore, time snarled
and tree after tree after mountain after hipster after hippie after sea to shining sea after California, Oregon, Mount Saint Helen’s, Memphis, Portland, Chicago oh

Oh, oh.
I’m with you
I’m with you
I’m with you in charred remains of great lands
I’m with you in bunk beds
campfires, estranged houses
under those crazy stars with the bugs that light in symphony for us
splash me in that rain, get me wet up to my hazel eyes in it
drown me in what is right in front of me,
teach me angel ways
Cataclysmic lovers, poets, carnal midnight madmen
I love you
(And god’s fingers are here
lipsticked in drag-queen red,
howling a sticky ballad
every celestial vein)
(And those crazy Thracians!
Philomel in her hut,
having those things done that he did
and then  all becoming those crazy birds)

Maybe we can do that
become those birds– when we get the nights back,
When the explosions stop.

Just so you know,
the house in our dream was made of glass,
each several window blown sugar,
each strand of sugar spider webs,
each web the finest dew line,
each dew line the stuff of dreams
I have the smell of it by my bedside,
It produced tributary tears in the getting of it,

To report an outage, call quickly.
And wait. Wait.
It will assemble. And things will be free of bands of paper, case, and cage.

But I knew it was you, Velour bottomed and cat cradled
vehicular comrade and cloud kissed
Street sweeper of The brave new world!
You spoke in tongues and the bribes were left unanswered
And the bush burned and tomorrow came
And I tasted hope metallic on Soft palette
It swam with so many other sweet things
The treble of your solitude suicide in my ear, your eager million dollar hands on my face, the halo of pursuit in the covers, the dim light of morning and
Beethoven only a whisper and a promise away.
This was the stuff that the cinema can’t even catch
It housed too much paint and long fire to be funnelled into in any dark room
It canvassed a field somewhere in some land sans gravity, eloquence, and
Free of heat and cold where rivers run pure plasma attacks and fish leap to the sky

And
Just
Keep
Going going was the night in the way of the bells and the grand ball
Where ladies dance and Gatsby he watches and documents from a balcony somewhere
And you and I took our time
We took it and woke up alone with possibility in our beds
hope on our porch
light, that blue light, los latidos del corazón,

the light of what you touch is what we have,
air we heave,
world we grab: mashed in dirty fingers, stuck in beards, lost in sheets
The here and the danger,the four days,the sound of a whisper
Etched here
in blues

on the palm

of my hand.

 

Even on my tallest day I still can’t reach the damn light bulb.

The lights in my kitchen in my ugly puppy of an apartment here in Memphis are slowly, one by one, going out. While I love the high ceilings in this quirky pad, I am, and will always be, 61 and three-quarters of an inch high. No amount of staring straight up will release these dead bulbs from their elusive sockets. No matter what surface in my apartment I put under me, I can’t reach. I cannot WILL them out. They will not be swayed by smart rhetoric. Even yelling has not worked. Ignoring them has no yield either. I’m just dumbfounded by the hilarious metaphor of it all screaming in caps,

“YOU NEED TO LET SOMEONE IN”.

A ladder would do the trick, or possibly scaling the stove to fridge and then a 3 foot reach… but seriously? If you know me, you know that both of these ideas are just nucking futs.

I’m easing in. Last night I welcomed new friends by means of games, fire, and loud music. Today I receive friends by reading at the Spartan City Poet’s May Day. Tonight I participate in some small way as an actor in a rehearsal. Tomorrow, more immersion, more opening, more tooling around exploring this city with new eyes that are reminding some of my new Memphian pals why they stayed here, and why it’s beautiful.

Mid forties are super weird. You kind of can’t make up excuses for your behavior anymore, lest you just fall into the category of the non-evolving. It’s exciting to REALLY love people in a deeply grounded way. It’s trailblazing to speak with a whiff of authority about your experience, particularly when you’ve made the maverick move of waiting to dive in with folks until you can see past the fog of craftily and attractively packed baggage you have accumulated over said forty plus years.

“So when you are sitting with a new tribe in a tiny lounge off of Madison,  the music is good, and the laughter is the whitest of noise, you can believe that none of this, not one part of it can be done alone, Carmen, so shut up and listen to me. Let someone come over and change the damn bulbs. Everyone is taller than you anyway.” – The Universe

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The running list of what I love about Memphis

Memphis is like no other place I’ve ever been. I won’t and can’t explain the feeling, as it would be diminished with language. It is lush, delicious. The days of alone time are very trying , but the moments of shared experience are unique and spirit-full. If there is a Holy Ghost, I swear he lives in Memphis.

The List:

IMG_20170507_082813190Midtown Laundry

You might say, “What the hell?”.

This place gives ample conversation, entertainment, the occasional prayer, and the inevitable communal belly laugh, and at 7 on a Sunday morning, I always see the same folks.

My favorite, my friend, 74, who lives on Spring, who always reminds me that if God lets her live another month she will be 75. She always touches me, invokes a short prayer, and gives me the updates on her health, her neighborhood gossip, and praises my moth tattoo. I’m pretty sure she is a deity of some sort.

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Overton Park.

Dogs, picnicking lovers, families laughing, lush forests, art, and a formidable playground.

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Magnolias.

They’re from the Jurassic period.

Literally dinosaur flowers.

They smell of fear, lust, surprise, gentility, and fire to me. Also, my friend Marquis is on that list- he’s one of my favorite things too. This was his first magnolia.

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This little Hippo.

Her name is Winnie and she is a baby. She is at the Memphis Zoo. Her Mom’s name is Binti. Hippos are descended from whales, and can grow up to 7000 pounds. They can run up to 19 miles an hour on land, and can open their massive jaw a whopping 180 degrees and muster enough force in them (along with incredibly sharp teeth) to crush an alligator. Their name means ‘Horse of the River’. They cannot swim or float, but can trot on the river bed like a horse, and when they need to resurface (about every 8-9 minutes) they push themselves off of the bed. They are the deadliest animal in Africa. Number one. Superlative. It doesn’t get deadlier, unless you’re a mosquito, an elephant or a black mambo. I love hippos. Can’t explain it.

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Memphis Rain.

I love it. I missed it. Thunder is a lullaby. Also, Ella is the best, and I wish they were here a lot. And their partner Mark.

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Caritas Village.

The Mission: ‘To break down walls of hostility between the cultures, to build bridges of love and trust between the rich and those made poor & to provide a positive alternative to the street corners for the neighborhood children.’ It’s a miracle of a place. Smack dab in the middle of Binghampton. I met 4 of the warmest humans in Memphis in that place, and I can’t wait to return.

Burke'sbooks

Burke’s Books.

There is no better spot to sit, read, and think. It has survived depressions, prohibition, two world wars, a civil war, the turns of two centuries, hipsters, hippies, hip-cats, the Beats, surf rock, the British Invasion, baby boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, and 27 presidents of the United States of America. There is really no telling if any of us will survive the current leadership, so I’m not including his reign in this endorsement for a rock-solid staple of Memphian destinations.

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Company d

Company d of Memphis, Tennessee, is a nationally recognized dance company of young adults with Down syndrome under the artistic direction of choreographer Darlene Winters. I was able to spend some time there, talk about possibilities, and meet some of the dancers. They were stunning. I hope to spend a lot of time here.

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My falling-apart-leaky-noisy apartment.

I feel safe in this ugly puppy of a building, which is no small feat in this town which lives up to its dangerous reputation on a daily basis. I’ve never laid eyes on my landlord, I had to work for two hours with a knife and a hammer to pry open one window, I’ve had two shelves come crashing down in my kitchen, and there are so many haphazardly laid layers of paint on everything in the apartment that I’m sure each room has lost a square inch. I live below two 22-year-old newlyweds who are very energetic, emphatic walkers, and late-night vacuum-ers, and although there is a washer and dryer in the basement, I feel like I’m in a final scene out of the Blair Witch Project when I descend those stairs, so I seek other laundry facilities (see Midtown Laundry). Vito loves the wide open space, and I have had a number of opportunities to have folks over already. My Basil and Cilantro are growing. I am sleeping (Maybe too much sleeping). I love my job and the people who I work with each day. I BELIEVE in my leaders. I TRUST them.

 

I don’t have those pals that I can be quiet with yet, but I’m getting there. I’ve only developed two or three crushes. I’ve only scanned the animal shelter offerings twice. I’m slowly extracting melancholy and injecting in some hope.

 

Baby steps, people.

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