Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Bullet I Wear Around My Neck

In my house if you were to look, you could find the following -- a baby cobra in a jar of Vietnamese snake wine, a yellow-colored stuffed representation of the type of bacteria that creates ulcers, a barbwire crucifix, a postcard with Mark Rothko staring at a blank canvas, the tiniest Snoopy alarm clock from Japan, a picture of my mother handling a python in front of a crowd in Australia, a pen that lights up when you write with a beautiful blue color (the last gift from my dad), a free-standing voodoo doll with an entire kitchen knife set stuck in it, a set of appetizer plates with a realistic-looking skeletons adorning them, an old-fashioned rotary phone that still works, a Janis Joplin Christmas tree ornament, a book containing excerpts of all the erotic parts of classic novels (Hank billed it as the "greatest literary timesaver ever!" in his inscription), a Pebbles doll, a watch with the face of the great Dwight Yoakum on the face of the watch, the cd of the last songs of the People's Temple and Jim Jones last speech urging everyone to drink the Kool-Aid, a bottle of Absinthe, every season of the Sopranos, the bullet I wear around my neck. All of these things were gifts, things that define me even though I did not choose them. Of course, they are far more wondrous than anything I could have wished for.

I'm a person who doesn't give enough notice to the physical world. I have inherited from my mother a propensity to hurt myself, in tiny and large ways, ways nobody could have predicted -- walking into walls, dropping knives onto my legs, being sprawled on the cement before anybody understands what has happened. I'd like to think it's because my mind is on other things, the slow alphabet of rain coming down in the morning, the past or future (two of the most interesting places to reside), on conversations that happened long ago or what I would have said to someone had I been thinking fast enough. When I was a gymnast, I never hurt myself during the actual work-out, but rather walking from the uneven bars to the balance beam which kind of makes sense given that I had to prepare my mind to someday live in a world in which I would wake up to a baby cobra encased in alcohol and touch the bullet around my neck, just to make sure it was still there.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"I don't write songs, I just make them up." Janis Joplin

Poetry Collections with drinking themes that I like:

Viper Rum by Mary Karr
The Incognito Lounge by Denis Johnson
All of Us by Raymond Carver

Benedictions and Maledictions

Thanks to everyone for all the great comments! As for the request to put someone out of his misery, I think I'll pass given that I'm much better at putting people into misery than releasing them from it.

First published in bordersenses:

Everything Seems Dead

Everyone had lost something – a finger or toe,
friends, fluency, currency. Most still flew, though,
all that war training having some small part
in the other life. As a child, I feared being buried
alive above all else and made my father promise
to stab a stake of holly through my heart when
my time came to be lowered into the ground.
Instead of planning my funeral, my dad told
me I could ride in a helicopter with one of his
friends, who said, Everything seems so fucking
dead after Vietnam
. Don’t curse in front of the little
, another guy said. She’s heard it before, he
replied. I nodded. Those were the days when I
saw a lot, understood little, much like now, I suppose.


cindy said...

Even if like Janis you make things up as you go along, you spin and create in pure gold! Plus, you can never have enough defining gifts! You are the special one, like a post-Naomi Wolf generation super-guerilla neofeminist cult leader. Lead us forward! We will follow!

paul said...

Cajun Queen,
every day i love you more! The poem made me tear up, you know what it's like ; and your gifts and Janis , you rock on !

R2 C2!

Anonymous said...

Black Holes: Vietnam was/almost over and/the hot topic on campus was/Black Holes./That's when Syd/walked out of the john/asking me to tie/the rubber cord for her fix./It's strange/how the mind probes/for a vessel/in which to order/one's life.--Anonymous(unpublished)

Anonymous said...

Hey M,
I'd forgotten all about that stuffed ulcer bacteria--as soon as I saw it, your name popped into my head, and there was no turning back! lol Cheers, R

bonnie said...


Sweet! I adore the list of gifts followed by the list of things lost: aren't you something? And Cindy's notion's something to consider. If anyone can, it is you.
kiss kiss

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle,
What a lovely post. I'll have to drop by the Borders on Woodward and see if they have those in stock. I saw that your website has a mailing address for orders which is charming, as are you.
Bravo, and watch out for tornadoes. It's that kind of day.

Michelle's Spell said...

Like the anonymous poem! Great title and imagery.

Nina said...

i'm so glad about the chain and bullet, looks very promising on you, good and glittery. Need to get pointers on how well you keep yourself in such wonderful sexy shape, you could make video of how.
So sexy sweet mystery.
keessess and hugs,

JR's Thumbprints said...

Some of the best short stories I've read define the characters through lists of their possessions, what they see, and where it fits into their daily lives. Your list is beautiful, Michelle, and very telling.

Sheila said...

your bullet necklace is my favorite! Love the post. What was the name of that store you bought the RUNES from we wrote about in class? I was thinking about swinging by and seeing what they have.

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