It’s simply impossible for me to tire of the dark, craggy, cramped, decaying alleyways of Napoli. Because I find them so beautiful. What is that expression? Life in the streets. But that’s not subtle enough. That has no emotion. No color. No fragrance. I’m just an American who falls in love with corners of places. Pages in books. The picture I see in everything. What do I know about it? Not much. But I love it all the same.
(MARCH 2012) Just returned from 8th trip to Rome, 13 days of beauty and peace and sunshine and art and architecture too much wine and chaos and what can I say but I’m happy to be home. Still feel floating in between. I don’t think I could manage it year round. Spent a lot of time reading Keats and Shelley and Byron and more Keats and drinking tea at Babingtons and mooning over Keats. Lost in dreams. Husband very sick for most of trip, so there was that worry. Glorious first sunday walking on the Appian Way. And visited Artemisia Gentileschi’s Susannah and the Elders twice and sat in front of it for a couple hours. It’s never shown publicly, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Incredible views, an expanded and rearranged palatino, memories melding with dreams and unreality. Wonder and delight and pity and impatience. Too much smoke and plastic and soot and buy this buy this buy this piece of crap tourist junk i’m from bangladesh buy this crap just buy this crap, i’m from bangladesh, beautiful bangladesh, and the first man cries this over and over, and is replaced by one directly behind him, then another one, and another, and then there are ten men barking orders at you and then twenty and thirty men all around waving screaming squishy toys in front of your lens while you are taking a picture of another fountain, and pickpockets masquerading as beggars spitting on you because 6 or 7 euros in their hand isn’t enough, they want everything, they will follow you down the streets and grab at you and try to search your pockets. They’ll cough on you and curse at you when they are sick. They’ll laugh at you too when you stop paying to pass by. They’ll laugh harder at you when you do pay.
I want to go down this alley with you. I want to see where we end up.
The Strong Man, the Bearded Lady, the Dwarves, the Painted Horses, The Fire Eaters, the Trapeze Artists, the Freaks, the Carnivale Women, the Caramel Apple Man, the Sad Faced Clowns, the Elephants, the Monkeys, the Musician with eyes that undress us, the Knife Thrower and his Assistant, the Man with the Tophat, the Liontamer, the Lion, the Ostrich, the Peacock, the Double-Jointed Sitar Player, the Fortune Tellar, the Travellers… Let’s dance with them! To their intangible beats, to the long since passed echoes.
I still feel life in these rocks bleeding out for us. Giving it another go. Entertain us! Entertain us!
I still feel his eyes on us, undressing us, calling to us; I see the tarot cards laid out, I see different paths diverging at opposite sides of the table for us, I hear the clang of her silver earings, I hear the bells chime in a hundred church towers all at once. I smell the animal’s fur, I hear the smoldering, purring growl breaking into night. I hear the clowns laughter clogged with tears. Pancake makeup streaked grey, red and black. Forming rivers of impatient color around our feet.
But the music rises, the memories crowd me into a corner, I need to move, to get out, to keep going, to keep moving, to rise to the occasion and be someone else. One self does not satisfy me. I don’t satisfy me.
Written in Rome, 2000s
The flickering out, then the flaming up, arising, dividing.
Want to be hidden as dusk invades and the sun is diminished?
As stars burst forth, as the moon departs, as skies vanish into a cold silence?
Nights are loud lately. Nights are frozen in place, they are static, they are endless. The day’s warmth still felt even in the absence of light or touch or sound. Fly into the sun as color and shapes recede, lose yourself in the line between cityscape and sky. The shadows are all we keep.
“TEA” by Rebecca Butler
in the sun
wind rustles them,
and they drink it in.
hands pick and gather
in a basket
in the sun
hands wrap them
go on a journey.
i pour the
and it falls
on the leaves
as i smell
the scent of
of mountains -
the steam rises,
the cup is at my lips -
i drink in
throw the leaves
I took the photo of “chai” tea w/ foam & a delicious raspberry linzer cookie in the Garden District of New Orleans, Louisiana, across from the famous Lafayette Cemetery with my iPhone (hipstamatic/instagram).
What is more wonderful than to be a virgin, clean and sound and young, on such a night?…(being raped.)*
What is this itching within me
Fighting me, scratching?-
I want to break free of something
Mother Nature can only articulate-
And I know it is not shame which binds me
To Purity but History,
And all those lost girls before me.
That keep my kisses neat and clean,
That keep the boys
For appearence of the first bud
Hungry with possibility,
Stung with a goodnight miss.
Left leaning outside my door,
Like a forgotten unfinished book, or
A half-eaten apple left browning.
“Sylvia’s Pure” by Rebecca Butler
* (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, p. 8)
(Sylvia’s Pure was published in the Sylvia Plath Quarterly, Oxford, England, in 2001)
(photo from google)
You’re like me. You hate on hipsters and you make fun of (and are strangely fond of) eurotrash riffraff. And yet there’s that part of you that cannot help itself. It started out small, back when you were just some punk kid in middle school. You watched old movies and tried to look like (or find girls like) Audrey Hepburn and Jean Seberg in Paris. You perfected your Bardot pout and sang mangled lyrics to Jane Birkin and Juliette Greco songs. But then, as you got older, you found yourself wanting to have an affair with (or be) Antoine Doinel. You kept a dog eared copy of Bonjour, Tristesse by your bed. You didn’t stop at Baudelaire and Rimbaud - you went straight for Batailles and Celine. You became deeply acquainted with the sexual life of catherine m. You name-dropped more l’effetes francaises at parties than Jean Lorrain pulled rough trades in tea rooms. You smiled secretly to yourself every time the English girl in that movie ‘An Education’ randomly slipped in a French word or term into every conversation. Same goes for Holly GoLightly’s frequent use of ‘quelle this and that, quelle rat’. It began to dawn on you - you are that person. You have the affectations, you have the francophile tendencies, you pretend you can speak french. Just admit it already. I have.
Jazz nights, a festival of dark and light, the ciascura of modernia, of sweaty urban streets, New York city 1995 like a flash of NYC circa 1955.
I feel lifted up even as I’m falling further down faster and faster. The city owns me while I walk it’s streets and allow you to lead me.
I am so young, so alive!
Sometimes I like being led by the hand, awaiting your fervent kisses when the fancy grabs you.
Late night, real late night clubs, bars, coffee houses, ferry rides, subway trips, book reading, diners, kisses in elevators, Avenue B walks, East Side conversations far removed from small talk and not quite deep enough for philosophy, your hand on my white panties, touching my adolescent thighs.
Me: hesitant, shaking and yearning all at once. You: sly, shy in all the right places, a ready smile, black hair and dark eyes, camera slung around your neck, script in your back pocket.
Deft hands that travel down my back and trail along my breasts.
Touch me all over, take me places, take me to your village apartment and let me taste what this artist’s late night helter skelter history in the here and now wild days and sleepless nights life is all about…
Me; just a small time Boston girl, with seaside bones, flesh made of Concord apples and seashells and not much experience in the gritty, glossy tangle of life and death that only New York could be. Will ever be.
Open up your bag of tricks. Trick me. Trick me.”