I found this retail display at an Anthropologie store in New York. I’m interested in how it speaks to whiteness, the feminine ideal, and capitalism.
i saw your song
to a mailbox
emptied of hearts…
your melted snow,
my cold rain.
Tell them you ate three kinds of dark
Chocolate. Tell them your favorite contained
Sea salt and toffee and cost you $16 dollars
To snatch from the snack basket at the hotel.
Tell them how you let the squares melt on your tongue
While sitting next to a heavy set man breathing
Heavy on a train after 1a.m. while two sisters drank
Pepsi and made small talk so quiet and easy
You couldn’t begrudge them for keeping you
Awake. Tell them you took the subway at 2am
Then walked home alone at the skunk hour
And that you realized all the drunks
Were more afraid of you and that the grinding wheels
Of your pink suitcase may as well have been tanks
Rolling through. Tell them how you went to a wedding
Alone and that your whole family was there.
Tell them how the bride cried through the ceremony,
How she cried right through her silk gown
And that she washed the hall with her tears,
And tell them that she was the most honest bride
You have ever seen, ruining her makeup as sail boats
Lazed by in the harbor. When they ask about your work,
How it’s going, tell them a person needs to lie
Around a lot in order to remain sane. Tell them this,
And then ask them a question or two that will slip
Through the worm hole in their gut and poke
A pinky through to see if the answer is true.
5. Why do you write poetry?
On my way to a friend’s backyard BBQ party in Bed-Stuy, I saw a stoop sale. About five or six people sat or stood around the shady street, drinking and chatting. The Yo! MTV Raps™ trading cards caught my eye, and I picked out several: Big Daddy Kane, Run DMC, Public Enemy, and two variations of Vanilla Ice.
Then I saw the KISS Pez dispenser.
I cannot hum a single KISS song. Still, I was mesmerized by the small, face-painted plastic man. What is it about his face? Why can’t I place this particular mix of desire and dread? Just then, the proprietor of the stoop sale, a young man who was either a banker, an actor, or a lawyer, directed my attention to a giant Pez dispenser in the front garden. It was Yoda. His pointed ears spanned about twenty inches, and his army green body matched the grass. The Yoda Pez dispenser transcended my nostalgia. There was no story, no meaning, just the feeling of a door creaking open.
But I didn’t have time for Yoda. I was headed to a BBQ. I bought all four members of KISS Pez. They now sit on a small side table. Eventually, I’ll get tired on them and then I’ll have to write the poem. I’m disappointed that they only date back to 2012 and that people are selling them on eBay for seven dollars. I paid two.
Still, I do love the quiet, sad expressions worn by the “variable,” non-Gene Simmons band members.
Ten people have played in the band over the years. I wonder, were the other band members ever jealous of Gene Simmons’ special make-up? Or that he could stick out his tongue that far?
When I left that stoop sale, I passed by some old folks sitting on lawn chairs a few doors down. They were a part of the original neighborhood, pre-gentrification, and had been watching the stoop sale unfold. A woman called out to me as I passed: “Did you see the Yoda?”
I felt annoyed, and didn’t want to think about Yoda. The giant Yoda PEZ was outside of nostalgia, in some unknown, explored place. “Yes,” I said, and hurried away.