Afterwords

a mixtape — each song a cut-up of an already existing poem by a no longer living queer poet.

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Track List:

Walt Whitman
Reinaldo Arenas
Adrienne Rich
Essex Hemphill
C. P. Cavafy
Frank O’Hara
Audre Lorde
Jack Spicer
Elizabeth Bishop
Sappho

Walt Whitman

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Reinaldo Arenas

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Essex Hemphill

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 Frank O’Hara

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Adrienne Rich

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C P Cavafy

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Audre Lorde

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Jack Spicer

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Elizabeth Bishop

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Sappho

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I have a prancing dance where my hands are ribbons. A slow twerk while walking on a balance beam. Hands on knees, shirt in mouth. Take off shirt, cup butt cheeks with hands, shake. Head down, embarrassed, hands slack ropes hanging between legs, shaking, strutting. Once I traded gropes with a vaguely business looking man on a crowded C train while I was on my way to a political fundraiser on the Upper West Side. He was hard and big, kissed my neck, and slipped me his card as I left. It read “development consultant” or “venture capitalist for the global good” or something like that. Harbinger of the apocalypse. Wide second position plié, hands up and out, asymmetrical reaching, open palms, airy palms, vibrating palms, rippling, no not quite rippling, more like squirming, spine-belly-pelvis-sternum.

The only scene from the movie version of Reinaldo Arenas’s Before Night Falls that I remember is when Johnny Depp, playing the incarcerated transwoman Bon Bon, is sneaking poems out of prison on paper that is rolled up and shoved up her ass. I love that scene, that scenario: writing carried in the ass; the ass as a place to secret away, transport, and share language; the ass as a tube that evades the police and gets words you love to people you love; the rectum is an envelope.

walk away walk away walk away walk away keep walking keep keep walking walk farther walk faster don’t know loose track walking is/is not falling walk to fuck to think to fuck to walk yoko says draw a map to get lost walk that map map that walk sissy that map map that sissy dear map please will you make me a sissy sissy walk away sissy walk away sissy walk away sissy walk away

Standing by the sea with a slight pain in my neck, a finger in my ass subtly pulsating, holding hands and crying in a midtown pizza place, noticing slight patterns in patches of chest hair, a partially deflated red balloon bobbing on the waves, the shock of water filling my lungs.

He licks my neck, feverishly, fervently. My neck splits open, wet, dripping. Neck-cunt, panting. Oh, to be all hole. My pelvis pushing up and through while on my back. Slowed down liquid release moan. On my front, torso propped up on arms, legs wide, pelvis pulling to each side, oscillation, overtaken. I write best in dance studios, on trains, and on the toilet.

When people ask me what my “type” is I like to tell them about spaces, scenes, and milieus more than individuals, subjects, and bodies. My “type”: sad forgotten sparsely populated undergrounds—sex clubs, video shops, bathhouses, chat rooms, back rooms—full of ghosts and desperation.

alongsideness yet ≠; acrossness within distinct embodiments of historical antagonism; gaps, difference, and conflict; solidarity or coalitionality but more supple, difficult, and open than either of those terms ever seem to imply; a tensile and turbulent co-inhabitation.

Trying to lose language, to outrun it or sit and wait for it to go along on its way without me. Wanting to spend an afternoon not in words, humming and rocking, wafting in and out of sensation.

Dear Lota, park-maker, heart-breaker. Flamengo Park, the giant park in Rio you designed and built, has a wonderful butch aesthetic—understated, functional, sexy. People said that all the misogynist, capitalist, and imperialist bullshit you encountered when creating it was what ultimately broke you. You came to New York to die. Elizabeth, your partner, your love, the person next to suicide, the person that couldn’t answer the call of the desire to end.

A sculpture listening — eyes closed, head shaking subtly yes-no, hands reaching into unknown inky substance all around, suspended.

Music composed and performed by Ethan Philbrick, recorded and mixed by Floyd Kellog at the Nantucket Community Music Center, mastered by Michael Straus.

Thanks to Nora Blackall, Perrin Ireland, Chloe Paisley, Joanna Roberts, Katherine Cooper, Tara Aisha Willis, Millie Kapp, Georgia Wall, Laura Vitale, Jori Ketten, José Esteban Muñoz, Barbara Browning, Ann Pellegrini, Tavia Nyong’o, William DeWitt, Jazzmen Lee-Johnson, Jordan Lord, David DeWitt, Jess Goldschmidt, Ned Riseley, Barbara Elder, Melissa Philbrick, Nathaniel Philbrick, Jennifer McArdle, Florence DeWitt, and Nancy Ireland.

Whitman, Walt. “Passing Stranger.” Leaves of Grass. Random House, New York. 1891.

Arenas, Reinaldo. “The Will to Live Manifests Itself,” translated by Jaime Manrique, collected in Persistent Voices, edited by Philip Clark and David Groff. Alyson Books, New York: 2009.

Essex Hemphill. “Where Seed Falls.” Ceremonies: Prose and Poetry. Cleis Press, 2000.

Frank O’Hara. “Poem.” Lunch Poems. City Lights Pocket Poets Series, New York. 2014.

Adrienne Rich. “THE FLOATING POEM, UNNUMBERED.” The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems 1950-2001. W.W. Norton, New York: 2002.

C P. Cavafy. “Chandelier,” translated by Daniel Mendelsohn, in Complete Poems. Knopf, New York: 2012.

Audre Lorde. “A Woman Speaks.” Black Unicorn: Poems. W. W. Norton, New York: 1995.

Jack Spicer. “Improvisations on a Sentence by Poe,” as quoted in José Esteban Muñoz.“’Gimmie Gimme This… Gimme Gimme That’: Annihilation and Innovation in the Punk Rock Commons” Social Text 116. Vol. 31, No. 3, Fall 2013, Duke University Press.

Elizabeth Bishop. “One Art.” The Complete Poems: 1927-1979. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, New York: 1987.

Anne Carson. “Eros the melter of limbs.” If not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho. Random House, New York: 2002.