Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dear World: Yes I Wrote a Poem About Dicks Let Me Explain

Dear World:

You've been waiting for this book: a celebration of renowned scholar, poet, novelist and all-around-phenomenal woman, Paula Gunn Allen.  These pieces started out as a special insert in a literary journal, then (through a series of unfortunate events that turned out to be fortuitous) morphed into an even better, richer collection with beautiful editing and a perfect press (West End Press in Albuquerque) of its own.  And now, here it is, in your hands, with a classic Paula photo on the front.

So you open it and start flipping through the poems, essays, stories, and lovely artwork.  Such an elegant design! Such wonderful insights!  Such -

                           wait a minute.
Ha! You thought you saw . . .  wait.  You did see . . .  a series of words . . .

Naughty words. Bad words. Silly words.

It's a penis . . .
a prick,
a cock, ,
a dangler,
a clamdigger ...

Well, who the heck would put a poem like that in a collection honoring one of the most revered Native American scholar/writers in the 20th century?  What a jerk. How inappropriate.  How disrespectful.

But wait!  I wrote that poem! I swear, my intentions were good!  Yes, I admit, it's a bit odd that a lesbian poet would write a poem for another lesbian poet about male genitalia.  

The problem here is context.  This poem was actually sent off to the editors (many years ago) with an epigraph that Made It All Perfectly Clear.  It included a quote from Paula Gunn Allen herself.  It was the intersection of Paula's quote and a news story that inspired this poem.  

Unfortunately, the epigraph was inadvertently left off the published version - my fault? editorial mistake? printing error? -- I have no idea.  And, for the record, I have never worked with two more determined, honorable editors than Stephanie Sellers and Menouka Case. So let's chalk it up to the trickster energy generated by the poem and which, as Menouka reminds me, Paula would have deeply appreciated.

Future printings of the book will be corrected. For now, I provide the epigraph here for you (below).  I'm curious to know how, or if, access to the epigraph changes how the poem reads within this collection.

By the way, here is the statue in question, created by Joe Pachak.  In the end, the statue was not actually removed from the park, but instead, moved to a less conspicuous area.

Yup. There it is.

For the White Lady Who Had Kokopelli's Statue Removed From a State Park

In her introduction to Off the Reservation, Paula Gunn Allen mourns, "…poor Kokopelli! … he capers sadly about on wall hangings, tea towels, pot holders, tote bags, t-shirts and pricey bronze cutouts sans his joyful manhood . . . Perhaps this sorry loss is symptomatic of all that is wrong with colonization, and indicative of all that fills Native hearts with rage."

It's a penis.
Your father has one.
Your brother has one.
Your son has one.
Your grandson has one.
It's a penis,
not the Mark of Cain.
It's a penis,
a prick,
a cock,
a dangler,
a clamdigger,
a babymaker,
a lovemaker,
a dick,
a dong,
a one-eyed snake
a pee pee
a wiener
a wanker
but it's not
the Mark of Cain.
Your father has one.
Your son has one.
Hell, if you believe
in the Bible
God has one
(we are made
in His Image,
right?)  I've got
news for you:
have 'em
or we wouldn't
still be
and maybe that's
your problem
with Mr. Kokopelli
and his joyful
Indians having sex
means more Indians,
happy Indians,
and gay,
mono or poly,
mixed or full.
Still here,
still happy:
is that too much
for you
to take?

Deborah A. Miranda

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