"Indeed, a minimum of life, an unchaining from all coarser desires, an independence in the middle of all kinds of outer nuisance; a bit of Cynicism, perhaps a bit of ‘tub’."
Friedrich Nietzsche

8 Dec 2013

Guest Contributor—L.M.H.C

BRIEF FOREWORD

I am indebted to L for her contribution to this site, not least because my current work in progress (so far at least) has been dominated by male writers and vagabonds. It is not so much the work of the performance artist Ana Mendieta (though exile she clearly was) that resonates with my philosophy on tramping, it is the powerful and unsentimental composition on love appearing between the audio links. Although unknowable, L's writing echoes with an episode from Bart Kennedy's A Sailor Tramp where Sailor becomes the object of a young woman's desire when she sees in him something authentic that her father's society friends lack. LOVE IS A LONG WAY TO FALL / LOVE IS A LONG WAY TO SOAacts as a contemporary response to Kennedy's (1902) regret that: Being a tramp was sometimes well enough, but the great drawback about the life was the fact that a man was closed out altogether from knowing women. The conditions under which he had to live made the knowing of them impossible.’
_____

Self-portrait, L.M.H.C.

Love is a long way to fall / Love is a long way to soar
by L. M. H. C


1. 

I had cat hair in my eyes. 

I could smell the orange-hide of my Moroccan shoes. 

I thought of my father. I blame him for everything.  

I want to love.



Outside - light from Paris 

xxx with love xxx 

I suck a ray of sun through my front teeth. 

I walk through the front gate, I get onto the bus; the bus drives over the threshold, 

into the lair of the lyre and the misplaced. 



I am not homeless. 

I shake the pearls in the biscuit tin and bless the day. 






3.

I am not shouting 

“Where?” -  

hangs around my neck, 

not a necklace or a question, but a mute impulse,

dislocated pieces of a lovesong, an apple and a girl.






5.


6.

Where is he?... 

This pregnant pause, this accumulation of dots must form some sort of coherence. 

Where is he not? 

I will never know if he is dead or if he has left town. I will never know. In falling towards him, I always ran away. I was rhetorical.

Where is he? demands a gospel other than silence, other than death; demands a lie, a cover up, some eyebrows.  

This silence is fertile. 

Where is he -? - promises that I am here.






8.

His absence has no placard or protest. I don’t know what he’s fighting, or what he's given up. His presence is careful I believe; not store hours. Laid legible - he's a man. A thin man. 5ft 6". He is a son. If not a Jesus' son then a son of Oedipus. He’s not a Sugardaddy, he’s prickly. He physically bristles when you pass him. If not a porcupine enslaved in his hair, maybe antlers, maybe horns, maybe tumours? Perhaps he has a hungry wife? Perhaps he left his heart in Cuba? Perhaps he was suckled by a spider. Spiders can be maternal. He could be taller, if he straightened his neck. Shorter, if we discount uncultivated hair. He’s not stylised. He defies traditional brands and privileges; hairbrush, soap. He’s salty. A smile isn't his type of tambourine. Why have bells when you could have loose change? I haven’t seen him wearing a necklace of pearls or bullets. Under the gun he would blush. I think he's shy.  






10.

The first time my necklace broke in public I was completely unaware that it was mine, or that the beads had come from a piece of jewellery. They slid in silent locomotion down onto the pavement and I didn’t feel a thing. I stood in the middle of their disco dance. I thought they had come out of the sky. Since that moment I’ve always enjoyed the sound of falling beads, their bounce, the colour of hard-boiled rainbows. These days I break necklaces on purpose. It feels spontaneous to scream a rune formation into the middle of  a crowded street. Sometimes people think that I am feeding seagulls; the seagulls think that I am throwing them seeds, and while others are reminded of shrapnel, I am reminded of a Leonard Cohen song, centuries of throats, suicidal yodellers and Jewellers. It is a feminine folk-lore, an undressing, a currency - gestures that I don't regret learning -  ripping holes in denim, breaking plates, sharpening knives, breaking necklaces. When all else fails, comes - goes unseen, or stays self-contained and simmering, I bite the cord and let the gems fall to my feet. Then they must be replaced, cheaply, by new trinkets, or quickly, by warm hands.



What memories cluster around his fingertips? 

What is the youngest part of his body? 

What viruses are in his saliva? 

Would he rather coffee or a kiss? 



9 - 11 am; if he looked closely enough he would see my condensation, as I graze the pane of a coffee shop, looking for a colour of kindness. 

Through the windows, un-lidded hours.

A woman with an expression of rain in her frown holds a rosary close to her breast. 

A man holding four polythene cups on a tray walks back and forth as though lost. 

A policeman standing at the top of Key St guards its entrance, talking into his earpiece. 

I decide I will never see my man in the same place twice, however desperate I am to tell him that latte feels like ballet shoes inside my mouth. 



Outside, a man is dying next to the multi-storey car-park. An ambulance man gives him mouth-to-mouth and I light a cigarette.

Opposite - an Italian café, where I discovered the mafia and Nuala snorted coke with them in the toilets. 

I want to hide or run away. I wasn’t going to go back down Key St without a gas mask. I was scared of the oxygen there and had little faith in its degrees of separation from death. 

I filter through the streets of what feels like another anonymous wake, where pigeons stopped trying to be doves a long time ago.   






12.

The park looked like it was on fire, covered by autumns gold and made all the more fiery by the sunshine. 

I play tourist.

I stand over the saliva he spat onto the pavement. It is an untitled island.

We build our own landmarks don't we, like the derelict hotel that was burnt down. That burnt hotel was on my map and is still in my dreams. I dream of homeless people set on fire. 

I thought, don’t play with fire.  

Please don’t let that ambulance be for you. Please don’t blitz those arms with all the cigarettes butts you collected outside The Holiday Inn. Don’t use them as weapons. There is no need to be a soldier. And, if you must harm yourself, don’t try and outdo your pain threshold. Don’t let them burn to the very end. 






 14.

Did he role out of a haystack? Hatch from a dove’s egg? Fall out of the sky, or rise from an ocean? 

Did his wings forget to grow, or have they gone the same way as other butchered songbirds? 

To be pushed does not imply a shove but perhaps gentle coercion, hands kneading his nape softly into a curve. 

His movement into the world must have begun somewhere; displacement must have started out from some political mother and door. 

Perhaps he was torn away from Rapunzel's milk, somersaulting from the tower, unbound from braids and a witches anger; 

or - a glass of ice cold beer was placed at the bottom of his spine. 






16.

He's not cutting edge like a contemporary architect. He carries rubble inside his pocket. He inhabits the gap where Epilepsy dances and insects swarm dead foxes like they are Gods. Gloria-Glorious piss-sod screaming 'this filthy earth' - without moving his lips. The city is shaking. He inhabits the gaps where the city is falling; this blind alley leads to the lost cinema, and at the bottom of that street is the burnt down hotel. He takes odd detours, so that, where possible, he doesn't have to walk through large crowds of people. I don't know whether he is compelled to do this from something within him - the need to piss -  or whether he has been extradited to the back street by those who trade in beauty? In this city, you can't camouflage a wild man. There aren't enough trees. There is no disguising that smell of canine or sacrificed chickens and a scent so dense we all become cannibals just by inhaling. 



I am not frightened of being a woman alone in the city, on the streets where love is. 

I wear the robe, full with Russian doll ellipses and twilight deja-vu. 

I write over old songs. I walk over tomorrow's streets

A tender breeze gauzes my cheeks, like curtains, through them I smell a Tango lesson -

and the damp air has pores today, it has black wings.

The limitless city is my future and the crow in the city is my love. 



This line - a lifetime of missing him, like the first cry that left my lips. 

This line - a lifetime of forgetting him and, one day, finding him again.

Him - textured like a wolf with crow charm and a shamanic brow. 

Between the hours of nine and eleven I have seen him in the city

… and I want to chase him through the streets.



Jane Blocker says; Remembrance is a process, not a task to be completed; it is carried out through constant repetition and renewal…

An inability to find words, means that I can keep on trying. 

I want him to be constantly recovered. 

I want to translate him into heaven. 

The lovesong was, is, and always will be

my language.


17.




















18.

I place my hand loosely at the base of my throat and play with my collarbone, as though wearing knots of my mother's voice. 

And he must keep walking. 

He's got dirt on his boots. Mushrooms are growing in his footprint. They would leave so much mess on the carpet  - mummy wouldn't like it. I can't invite him home for tea. My mother is scared of him. She looks at him as a vagrant, something censored or amphibian. She says he has a foreshortened neck. When he draws near I can feel her alarm, like a spherical force near her shoulder. I know that she is holding her neck in a way that will make her skin taut. He makes her neck crooked. 

And he must keep walking. 

For me, he is a startling narrative of discovery. His beauty originates in the accidental and untamed, from a source of an inexplicable consequence, therefore I cannot forget him, despite what my mother says, nor push him off the kerb into the puddles. He already looks too close to the edge, in favour of a flood. 

I want the hyena in his tears and a drink of peppermint tea.

There is an island snug on the nape of his neck. The earth shudders as he pulls it past the window. A whole body of water.

He must keep walking and I want to sing a little country song for Mermen given shoes.






20.

The whole subject stinks like menstruation. 

I am embroidered into a dress that looks innocent. Driven by desire, I always carry a pair of scissors in case I feel like flashing. 

I am waiting for an opportunity to cut off his silhouette and sew it onto my dress: this means Now and Forever. 

Between fragile soft-stalk and hardcore porn you'd find me playing at taxidermy and fly-tying with feathers. 

I hold an army of spectres carefully clipped from daylight observation and piled high like the towers of a city. 



I searched for him on the Internet. And at the outset I thought that this would be the simplest directory, like painting by numbers or mapping constellations. 

My photograph is on the internet. I am not a porn star, I have my period today. I am an established ether and pollutant. 

His features were infinite, but each time an imprecise, piracy-likeness. A feather-line too far, the wrong bone-structure, the right length of beard. 

I had no precise context or situation to place him in; his map had my period upon it. 

I browsed bloody-minded and scared that the intruding shadow was mine, passing from one hyper to another.

I turned my attention to the Hall of Fame. People who could never be him and people who could never be me. They were just as untouchable, but I knew more about them. I had names, birth-dates, occupations. He was the long-lost brother of Charles Manson, reincarnated. I’d take full responsibility of course, for bombs and body count, like Oprah I'd be a medium for crocodile tears; turn canon balls into small rolling stones.



Is it enough to say, I think of you… I think I know you? I think I know your family. It might be mine?

I remember everything.

I remember arms that took me underground. 

I remember a sunrise inside a nightclub.

I remember a tiger. 

I remember a broken elevator shaft.

And when we kissed, I saw Shanghai. 

Is it enough to say… I remember? I remember and you are an act of renewal?






22.

I followed him down a street that I'd never been down before.

I scraped my hand all the way along the wall until I reached some wild flowers. 

I felt the draft in an old way. Maybe. 

The sun shone in exactly the same way. Maybe.

On that day we met. Long ago - Before. Baby - 

been to that place in the sun? 

… in Paris. Paris always seems to breathe past tense, like a past life.

Been in my past life?

Maybe not. 

- but we could be lovers xxx



He leads me and then he leaves me there. 

He is my odyssey. 



I say, 

place a Monsoon in the pupil of my eye, place a long distant love inside my ear, place Shanghai inside my ear, place your tongue inside my ear. 

Let’s be Samsung and Delilah. Let’s take the elevator together. Take a taxi ride. Get on a plane. Go to the abattoir. 

I want to follow the map all the way down, go down to the abattoir and put this love into a body bag. 



A dilation.

Starbursts smack me in the eye, turning them into the navy-blue of my birth. He walks with his hand holding his t'shirt above his stomach. He holds the material bunched up in a clenched fist. I witness every twist and grimace. He looks ready to elbow strangers in the ribs. His hair - longer than I remembered, more matted; his beard, too, ancient as tumbleweed. Reminded me of a small dreadlock growing in my pubic hair. His head was cocked to the left, chin tucked in, cheek resting near his shoulder. He looked paler, thinner, like someone who had stolen away from somewhere dark, without bathrooms or governments. His trousers falling down, his hip bones unable to hold them up. I saw the small tuft covered in golden-puree, the beginning of a dirt solid song. I thought -  I could grow golden apples in the cemetery soils beneath his fingernails, and eat the worm.



I played in the garden, dressed in my Sunday best, looking for songs, a murmur; some sort of garden God or King Tree. 

I thought - he is very close, in the garden? In the moon? 

I thought - I am not riot proof. 

He has come with no warning and I am not riot proof like a Sunday. 






24.

A small white feather waltzed down from the blue, yet there were no birds in the sky. I watched with anticipation as it fell onto my path, tuned to their silent sad migration. Whether heaven-sent or from unruly wings, it didn't belong here on earth. Its slow prologue, foreplay-silky on my cheeky.

I thought I saw his sleeve. I thought I could smell his breath and the dribble in his beard; smells of sweet hay, russet nuts and that bitter, inedible kitten-milky-seraph.

Everything smelt of nature and of sky and of riot.

I took off my socks and shoes and buried myself into the ivy until I found the garden wall at my back. From here, imagine his outback; North, where the suicides and thieves were buried, or towards the East, where a rainbow hung in the sky? 

What would it be like to live in this rain with no shelter and no poetry?

Was he wet through to the bones? 

Would I have found him in a night sweat, shitting on dirty mattress, squatting in a hurt with a cockroach and some moonlight?  

I began crying, because my knees were cold and he might be colder. I guess I wanted to feel like Mother Teresa.



I emptied buckets of soil underneath my bed recreating a municipal area. I lay underneath a blanket of newspapers. Worms moved through my hair. I welcomed this gathering of strangers moving patiently through to the root, settling in coils around my dreadlocks. I touched their cold bodies. They recoiled. A small coral-pink and white worm came off on my finger, hugged my fingertip - it never wanted to leave me. It wanted to be my lover. Another -  slowly down my forehead and stopped near my eye. Perhaps they were expecting to find apples? All they would find was follicle and rainwater, unless they sucked brain, then they would find love-songs.






26.

…. Don't cry Cuban cherry, let me be your blackbird. 

& Sweet Jesus' don't kill another son… 

xx but xx

that is not this song. 

In zones of desire with Tallulahs tarantula 

Plagues of me, 

or someone who could be me -

want to fuck like the Damned Alsatians. 



It is the City's way, 

to make loss and love, 

to dispatch ghosts and kill snowmen. 

His fingerprints are all over the city. 

I know. I saw. That's careless,

but, they are like fossils in the making.

His earth bound silhouette slips so easily over the edge.  

But as long as he keeps falling, I will find him.



He inhabits an ellipses… he has made just enough room to breathe there.



Canton alleyway. 

I witness his earth-acts and bodily fluids splashing against a wall.

I put my feet where he once stood and trace the tracks of his piss with some lipstick, childishly fill in the splash of him and it is like kissing.



Step back and see this portrait, 

just one more in a series of sticky infinities, 

between then and now, outlines and sky.



I will chalk a smile in.

I will chalk some breath in.

I will kiss the walls of the city.

I will lick the walls of the city,

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee -

all the way home.



I wonder what colour lipstick Ana wore? 

I wonder if he can wear lipstick just like Ana did; if he could apply lipstick to my lips-between-legs without smudging and what colour that would be?

I must apply lipstick stains to the walls of the city.   






28.

Impressions have settled whole lifetimes upon him, like he's been killing his maidens, and ghostly mistresses wander the streets missing a glove, missing a finger; or he is a collection of beasts from bestial inventory's on nursery wallpaper; soft bodies snatched from being soft, like baby forms in waddling cloths, violently rendered into shapes that can bleed. 

And he passes by, stinging eyes and cheeks with ammonia. I hold my breath. I cease to breathe when he passes. Children point as though he has crawled out from underneath their beds. I step on the back of their shoes so that they slip from their feet. 



He makes me want to take my clothes off and run naked through a park full of children. 

I am passing through my disfigured childhood - on my way to Womanise. 

I have written dreams of him onto my knickers; forensic sentences from wet dreams and ectoplasm's from the cunt. They form part of this documentary of private parts; hair, clitoris, retina, iris; dress, strap-on-penis, beard, prayers and 101 cigarette butts. 



Always carry a pair of scissors.

Easily split into halves and gargoyles,

different plagues, sex shapes with hard-ons; heart shapes and donut rings; 

play with body parts and mirrors. 

He mirrors my flaws, a character font-face; 

prince, pervert, pornographer, poetic skull, napalmed gut - 

myself as a man and myself as a murderer. 



What is his, what is hers and what is mine? 



This is me strapping on a penis and putting on a beard. 

I slowly cut off my beard and I reveal myself to be a pre-violent man and a blow-up bride. 






30.

Every time, a feather, I run. 

Agile and nymph, I bend to pick them all up. I hold the feathers delicately as though they were his.

I want to spread my thumb and finger around his wrist, handcuff and kiss the place between.



It is the declaration that will get me out of this story. 

It is that daring gesture of love that I lost and not the scream at all. 

I am an established screamer, I break my necklaces in public. 



IshouldtellhimthatIlovehim. 

Ishouldwriteitonapieceofpaper. 

Ishouldrunuptohimandcomealloverhisface.



... reveal myself...
... reveal myself to be…
... reveal myself to be a woman.





32.

In the pomegranate archive, little portraits the size of a drop; little red Amsterdam's on the map. Slit my ankles in a sudden magical transformation, and drip through the city. I find my way home and remember the places that he has been. Something red for him to find. Hounds and him. An after-image. Drip drip. My blood is magic. My blood is exquisite. My blood is eros. My blood is devotion. My blood is like a beheaded Queen's. My blood is like a delicate man's.



And I said, make me cry.
And I said, transform me though love.
I said, punch me in the face.
I said, bite my shoulder blades; bite me where the wings should be. 
And I said, transform me through violence; throw some blue china.
And I said, be my magician in residence, leave a burn on my hand, an artefact, an after-effect,
a taste of gunpowder. 
I said, let's make fairytales from nose bleeds - like there is no other flood.



Blood sweet hymns 
posies and rosies and jam
clot to his boot; face his beat-up 
doorway. 



I give chase, peer into pace and alarm and take in every disjointed feature. If this is the only way that we can be together, let’s trek through the danger zones as if this were the last time.  And he can talk to me as if a bomb is about to go off. For this is how we would love - with stones placed upon our eyes and inside our pockets.



I am hunting this situation. 






34.

I give chase. It is not impulse that excites me first and foremost but a stratosphere of awe. I am a child of serendipity, a Christmas child.

Faced with this act of desperation, gushing goo out of my mouth, my head empties of all things that I thought I could declare. I am unable to speak. 

I run into the road and dance around like I need the toilet, mouth opening and closing.

Faced with another disappearing act, coffee and cigarette, inept in my hands and in my head; too late, off-beat, I nearly get run over by a bus. 

Lost again.  

Hate myself. 

Shocked into a silence that only moles can hear. 



I want too many things.



I am prepared to sacrifice the possibility of pruning roses and decorating his beard with them.
I am prepared to sacrifice feeding him green apples, cut-out like a Sunday sermon.
I am prepared to sacrifice sharing chunks of spirit at its most acidic.
I am prepared to be assigned a priest and a restraining order.
I am prepared to bind my unicorn hormone and ostracise my testicle.
I am prepared to put the seahorse that is dancing inside my knickers into a jam jar. 
I will watch it dancing around in a glass jar full of vinegar.



When I find a large white feather, I do not pick it up because it verifies that the rest of his body is missing. 

He keeps on vanishing. He was not meant to vanish this easily, like moments without claws, or histories without dogs. 

The world keeps on vanishing. I cling to the city outline, but I get tired and must sleep. 

I dream of homeless people set on fire.

His silhouette remains part of vanishing world. 

I think he lives in a lost cinema.


35.






















36.

At the heart of this conclusion will be a heartfelt dementia - a resting place - days fallen underneath a tree. 

Oh dear 
dear life 
& life sentences

I wish illiteracy

somewhere to nail my feet. 



Outside, a limitless city - my future. The crow in the city - my love.

I looked North where the thieves and the suicides were buried and East, where a rainbow hung in the sky.

I promised, a love affair to remember. I got down on one knee and proposed.


37.




Strange to look so intensely for a face and in its absence, find a city. 



                                                                             _____



Resources & Images in order of appearance


Self portrait by L.M.H.C 

2. ANA MENDIETA SILHUETA SERIES, 1973-1980

4.Where is Ana Mendieta by Jane Blocker (1999, Duke University Press, USA) 
ANA MENDIETA , UNTITLED (1975), BLACK-AND-WHITE PHOTOGRAPH OF PERFORMANCE WITH CLOTH

5. ANA MENDIETA UNTITLED (FACIAL HAIR TRANSPLANTS), 1972

7. ANA MENDIETA UNTITLED (BODY TRACKS), 1974 

9. ANA MENDIETA, UNTITLED (BLOOD AND FEATHERS), 1974
extract from "La Negra Venus, Based on a Cuban Legend" by Ana Mendieta
http://artblart.com/tag/zhang-huan/

11. ANA MENDIETA, UNTITLED (PEOPLE LOOKING AT BLOOD, MOFFITT) 1973
Text by Elizabeth Manchester, October 2009
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/mendieta-untitled-rape-scene-t13355/text-summary 

13. ANA MENDIETA UNTITLED (BLOOD WRITING), 1974

15. ANA MENDIETA UNTITLED (GLASS ON BODY IMPRINTS), 1972

17. ANA MENDIETA ON GIVING LIFE, 1975

19. ANA MENDIETA ISLA 1981 - 1994 

21. ANA MENDIETA, Corazón (Heart), 1977 

23. ANA MENDIETA SILUETA MUERTA, 1976

25. ANA MENDIETA ARBOL DE LA VIDA (TREE OF LIFE) from SILUETA SERIES, 1976

27. ANA MENDIETA, UNTITLED, SILUETA WORKS IN MEXICO, 1973-1977 
http://www.constructart.com/constructart/artpolice.html
29. ANA MENDIETA UNTITLED (CUILAPÁN NICHE), 1973

31. ANA MENDIETA BIRD TRANSFORMATION, 1972

33. ANA MENDIETA UNTITLED (SELF-PORTRAIT WITH BLOOD)

35. ANA MENDIETA ANIMA, 1977 

37. Remembering Home by Shuji Terayama





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