. . .I’M LOST!
. . .I’M LOST!
The boss. The drug lord. The drug dealer. The dope runner. The drug pusher. The bagman. The hit-man. The assassin. The fuck up. The innocent bystander. The lover. The mistress. The wife. The children. Guns drawn. A really big shoot out. Everyone dies. Silence. Blood is flowing. Flies buzz around. The bullet riddled piñata donkey hangs by a swinging limb. Candy is scattered everywhere. The Federales bullshit about the massacre and help themselves to cake and ice cream.
2 Emails?. . .You got to be kidding. . .and “junkmail” for bitchin’ out loud! God, I’m so pathetic!!
Email #1: Timeshare?
Okay, I don’t have time to share.
Email #2: Geico Insurance
Okay, my car is as old as an Oldsmobile (I think that’s the way you spell it?). So if my car gets hit, I’ll probably be doing it a favor by putting it out of its misery.
Today is Friday. . .and I love Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video. Sure her voice is a bit whiney. . .mechanical. . .and everyone seems to dislike her but with over 52 million views to her vid I’m sure she’s laughing (or crying somewhere)!
I have a rocket inside of me. They put it inside me some odd years ago when I was young, maybe younger, or younger than youngest. The rocket is white or maybe black or maybe even red? The rocket does have a color only I’ve forgotten what that color is from years having passed. I figured the color of the rocket must’ve faded or maybe I must’ve smeared it like paint across a canvas due to water, rain, tears. I’ll just say for now the rocket is colorless. The rocket is big. It’s the length of my torso. The tip of the rocket peeks at the crest of my chest; the bowel of the rocket peeks at the base of my cervix. The rocket wants to fly, somewhere, anywhere. Perhaps to the end of the world and back? Perhaps to heaven and hell and back? Perhaps from the north end of the pole to the south end of the pole and back? Wherever the rocket can fly it wants to fly there. In a general store, I am fourteen. I am tall for fourteen. Kids at school call me names like “daddy long legs” and “Amazon woman”. I don’t think it’s funny, but they do. Their adolescence pose jealousy because I can touch the sky and they can’t. In the store, my ash brown hair is split down the middle and braided in two. I’m chewing gum and browsing the magazine rack regarding anything on rockets. I want to be an astronaut woman but I don’t tell my mom. My mom wants me to be something but she’s not sure what because she thinks I’m not sure what. I pop my gum. Please don’t do that! the boy who had been standing at a near distance casing through muscle car magazines snaps at me. He doesn’t look at me as I look at him. He’s got messy hair. It’s blond. Looks dirty but smells clean. He looks eighteen. Black t-shirt worn down jeans vintage combat boots. I pop my gum louder and the guy, no longer the boy, purses sturdy lips and cringes in his athletically built body. I’m amused, and so I pop my gum again just to amuse myself some more. The guy furiously slams the magazine against the rack. I know I should be scared but the guy reminds me of my dead dad. He was always furious. He liked to slam things against things and call names just to call names. I finally turn away from the guy. I start to pop my gum again only this time I pop air. The guy, and to my amazement, shoved two fingers into my mouth and yanked out my gum and threw it on the floor. The guy has brownish-blue eyes. Once fierce are now serene. He studies my face for a moment and something within me sparks coercing my insides to flutter. I’m Darwin he says. I swallow air. You know he smirks like Darwinism? I choke on my air but I’m still breathing. You believe in Darwinism? I ask in my girly-girly tone. No. You? He asks. No I say I believe in rockets. Darwin is amused. His rough hands slip into both his front pockets. They move around and suddenly I’m intrigued to what lingers behind his button fly. I turn away, embarrassed. Seconds later I turn back to him to say something to him but there’s two sticks of gum being shoved gently into my mouth. Pop all you want Darwin says. I bite down on the gum; it’s minty. So you like to fly? Darwin assumes. I nod. I want to fly to the moon I concluded. We’re racing down a deserted road in the outer of the skirts of a small Texas town. Darwin has the pedal to the metal and my heart is racing a thousand miles per second like a rocket drunk on its fuel yet it can’t keep up with his Super Sport. It’s metallic blue. A crosswalk resides down the hood. The thrushers are cranked wide open. The sky is blue. The sun is brilliant. The air is hot. The scenery all around is a blur. I see nothing but the denim blue road ahead which reminds me of Darwin’s jeans. Suddenly the Super Sport fishtails to an abrupt halt. Both our bodies jerk forward hard then back. I have to catch my heart at the base of my throat. Darwin flips the gear in reverse and drives the Super Sport backwards a few yards on the road before he continues onto the fields of foxtails. I glance through the back window and the Super Sport is nearing a tree. I turn around in my seat and notice it’s the only tree visible from my vantage. The Super Sport parks beneath the tree. A swift breeze grazes the car the way cows graze fields. I like you Darwin says. I like you I tell him back. Good he says. I’m fourteen I say. So he says. I’m to young I say. Darwin has a spark in his eye, the same spark that caused my insides to flutter earlier. Fourteen is not young he says it’s the right age to fly to the moon. Darwin leans across the seat and puts his mouth over mine. His tongue fidgets with mine because I don’t know how to fidget with his; I’ve never kissed a guy before. Darwin wrestles with my tongue for awhile until my tongue finally gives up and gives in. For a moment with Darwin I feel like I’m eating a banana split. The ice cream is soft and creamy and feels velvety like Darwin’s tongue. The strawberry topping is delicately sweet like Darwin’s breath. The pineapple topping reminds me of a tropical island, like Gilligan’s. The chocolate topping is like sampling forbidden fruit. The whip cream reminds me of being on cloud 9. The nut topping feels like my feelings for Darwin. The banana reminds me of Darwin’s cock. The cherry reminds me of innocence lost. I enjoyed my banana split. I throw the container into the trash can and Darwin drives me home. How was your day? My mother asks. I flew to the moon I tell her. In a record store, I am fifteen. Darwin tells me to take my hair down after we raced to our make-out place to make-out. Instead of a banana split I have a sundae, and Darwin drives me home. You’re late! My mother gripes. Yea, but I’m home! I gripe back. In a clothing store, I am sixteen. Darwin tells me to take off my clothes after we raced to our make-out place to make-out and have sex. Instead of a sundae I have an ice cream cone, and Darwin drives me home. You’re passed your curfew! My mother bitches. So ground me! I bitch back. In a liquor store, I am seventeen. Darwin hands me a beer after we raced to our make-out place to make-out and drink and have sex. Instead of an ice cream cone, I eat a burger, and Darwin drives me home. That’s it, you’re grounded! My mother yells. Try and ground me! I yell back. In an Adult store, I am eighteen. Darwin sticks the DVD porno flick into the player after we raced to our make-out place, now his apartment, to make-out and drink and have sex. Instead of a burger, I eat some leftovers, and Darwin drives me home. I want you packed and out of this house! My mother screams. Whatever! I scream back. In a drug store, I am nineteen. Darwin hands me the stick and tells me to pee on it after we raced to our new apartment where we make-out, drink, and have sex regularly. How are you? My mother asks when she visits our new apartment. Pregnant I tell her. In a wedding store, I am twenty. Darwin places the wedding ring on my matrimonial finger which he forgot to do earlier because of his nerves after we raced to our new home where we don’t make-out, drink, or have sex. How is the pregnancy? My mother asks when she visits our new home. I’m overdue I tell her. In a grocery store, I am twenty-one. Darwin hands me the baby to take the groceries off the caravan after we raced to our home where we kiss, share quiet dinners, and make love. How is the baby? My mother asks when she visits the baby. It’s not a baby I tell her It’s a rocket.
As an occasional Critic, I find it rather difficult to compose such a stellar review on a topic that is quite unforeign to many of us now referring to Michael H. Brownstein’s latest chapbook Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah which is a collection of poems regarding the insurgence of the 1948 war against the Palestinians; poems beautifully penned, vividly detailed, and indisputably compelling. But in order to give such a review without adding insult to injury particularly on a subject I [honestly] knew nothing of only up until recently when this chapbook was presented to me, I instead decided to go to the source himself and transcend this review rather into an interview by inquiring several questions as to give the audience a more personal insight to Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah and why the author chose to write about it.
1.) Michael, what inspired you to write Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah?
All of my life I have been taught Israel was right and everyone else—the Arabs, the Palestinians—were wrong. It was cut and dry. Though I’m not a Zionist (and never was)—and I am Jewish—I never really believed Israel was above the law and everything that went into making this tiny Jewish state was positive. I did hold the belief that Israel came about because it was fighting for its very life. Then I read Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (W.W. Norton, 1993), by Carolyn Forché, The section on the 1948 war amazed me. I did not know or even understand that any of this could have possibly happened. Yes, perhaps against the British—but innocent Palestinians? No.
So I began researching. Could Forché be making this up? I knew due to her reputation that she wasn’t. The more I got into it, the more disconcerted—if that can be the word—I became. We had just come from a major Holocaust and now we were doing the same kinds of things we said “Never Again” to the Palestinians. The further I got, the more energized, the more passionate, the more angry at all of the lies I had been fed (and believed)—and finally I knew I had to let others know. So I took my passion for poetry, my research on the 1948 war that began after reading Forché’s book, and combined them to make this book. I who had lived behind a shadow all of these years decided no one else should have to. Truth has power. Poetry, too, has power. The making of Firestorm became a passion I could not put out.
2.) Did you possess personal knowledge and/or experience which inspired you to write Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah?
Simple answer: No. I just could not believe Israel could develop out of such falsehoods, the rewriting of history and, well, downright lies. Did you know on many maps—particularly maps in the Middle East—Israel is called Occupied Palestine?
3.) Or did you know any of the MC’s in your poetry and prose to inspire such a write?
Once again, no, I just learned all about this about a year ago when I read the section in Forché’s book. Before then, no, I thought all atrocities were against the British by the Jews or the Palestinians against the Jews. I never thought the Jews could be capable of harming others the way they had just been harmed—World War II was only three years in the past. I could not believe leaders of the new Israel considered themselves the first and best terrorists. I could not believe men got away with atrocities and became leaders of this new nation while they were prosecuting Germans for crimes against humanity. I could not believe how hypocritical Israel was. The more I researched, the more I knew this story had to be told.
4.) What was your purpose in writing Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah?
To begin a discussion on the issues of what the 1948 war caused. To correct the rewriting of history. To show the other side of the story in much of its gruesome detail. To begin a real dialog between two people who are both Semitic, but cannot sit down and talk peace. To make Israel acknowledge their wrongs and make them make them right. To change the view of Zionism. To help the Palestinians regain what they lost.
5.) Do you think much has changed since then?
Unfortunately, I feel we are moving backwards. The Palestinians are maintained in the world’s oldest refugee camps and they are still treated badly. It’s time for a change and I actually have hopes that people reading Firestorm will want to engage and dialog in making these changes come to be.
For those of you who have yet to read Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah and wish to read it in its entirety, you can find the chapbook here: http://www.booksonblog35.blogspot.com.
Enclosing, Michael would very much like to thank his editor and publisher, Russell Streur of the Camel Saloon who supported the project and felt very strongly that Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah should be published. Michael also goes on to add that he is very glad Russell had the guts and the determination to work with him on this important (in which he feels) project.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the author himself for allowing me to inquire these valid questions and for the manner in which he answered them in. And I too strongly feel that if I had not taken the route I have taken with Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah this review/interview would have never came about. Thank you, Michael.
Devlin De La Chapa-