Collaborating on Waveform.
Denies Leto and I collaborated on a lengthy poem/essay called Waveform this summer. For me, Denise is a wonderful new discovery. We are both waterbabies--she grew up as a San Diego surfer, I am from Florida. We are both Italian and have written many a "spaghetti grandmother" poem. Not only do we get to talk about chronic pain and the complex logistics that come with disability, the way daily routines get halted and make for a more uncertain writing routine, but we seem to be prone to spasmodic laughter. These episodes occur over the smallest things--over pizza and wine, triggered by sudden tangents and cadence gone awry.
The full version of this text will appear in an anthology tentatively titled Post-Ableist. Patrick Durgin is the editor. Denise and I were lucky enough to be "e-troduced" by him via email, nearly a year ago. For the piece below, we exchanged short poems over the course of several months and then braided them together.
Cool and thin cloth against skin, red and agitated, around bone. A yellow crayon in my hand, with knuckles looking not much different than they do now, puffy and stunted. “But it made you so happy to sit there because you just kept drawing and were not thinking about hurting.”
The generic spectacle of the water glass upon first waking.
[Federal law prohibits the transfer of this drug to any person
other than the patient for whom it was prescribed]
The generic design so that it is always recognizable and inviolable.
[this is a blue pill in a diamond shape with a line in the middle]
during which the pain of angles arrive.
Geometry is shapeless in the neck of things.
Vertically crisscrossing skulls, mirrors.
A distillation of suspense in the line. Will it be written?
A manatee gets to shift vertically while always remaining at a glide, horizontally.
> Your WorryListPlan (WPL), a kind of 3-step magical thinking, very useful. Had an idea
> that another way in might be for us to List! Use our obsessive tendencies and list—
> of the preverbal or nonverbal commands we give our bodies to move/stay
> still/abide/enliven/etc. Bear with me, it might be
boring at first.
Listing as a leaning toward language, a crutch for living. A shameful front. What have you been writing? Or, Here is my acquaintance from such and such estimable undertaking: MFA, volunteer, research, the lives into, tutelage. And, she is a Writer. Tell us, What have you been Writing?
“Reliability of the Perceptual Evaluation of Adductor Laryngeal Dystonia”
Take a deep breath and say a sustained "e" 89%
Loudly say: "Taxi" 95%
Spontaneously laugh 86%
Say: "Ambling along
Rainey Island Avenue" 80%
Say: "He saw half a sea shell" 75%
Quietly say: "Shh, the baby is sleeping" 73%
Say: the alphabet from A to N 69%
Strained-strangled voice quality 98%
Expiratory effort 93%
Related movements and grimaces 86%
Speech intelligibility reduced 85%
Voice arrest 84%
Atypical intonation 53%
“Speech Intelligibility Reduced is the quality of overall clarity with which an utterance can be understood or comprehended. Related Movements and Grimaces are the involuntary visible changes in a patient's body including flushing of the face; facial tics such as lip movements, eye-blinking, and frowning; and movements in the neck, shoulder, arm, and leg…thus making research findings more meaningful.”[i]
I cannot say: I have just been making lists (it feels like writing). Or thinking about being in pain and not being in pain by degrees or, avoiding pain or the work on the body that will cause pain. And while I cannot say this, I am also standing to shake your hand. And I am listing—as I am anticipating the splintery sensation deep in my ankles—how I will hold my face, fiddle with my clothes, become preoccupied with someone else for a passing instant—to anticipate and avert your gaze from the absolute wave of my feet, crashing against gravity. The splintering of the mind so as not to betray the grimace in the body. Leaning at once toward and away from language, too many subtexts in that instant, all else goes unwritten.
> Ok, so here is my piece as in
small building block
> for the week. Your turn next week, then mine Sunday
> Monday 2:00 a.m. and my clipboard lost what I managed to
eke out in little
> stops and starts till I saved it. Now I can sleep and shore up for
>your Monday is filled with unexpected relief.
Are you interested in doing collaborative writing? Bring your ideas to Write To Connect this Friday!