May 29, 2007


If I tell you
Gertrude Stein wrote to my mother
to say Rena’s son Freddy — that’s what the great
Buddha called me — was a self-indulgent savage
who augured the end of civilization
and Mother cheerfully sent “poor old
Sophie and Alice B. Luckless”
family recipes...

If I tell you
the Mama of Dada dressed me
in lederhosen so her great white
poodle Basket, wet from his daily
sulphur bath — the French countryside
vermin otherwise crawling into the dog’s
curls to suck his skin red — could chase
me and scrape his sharp long nails
into my bare legs while his master
shouted from the second story
window, “Faster, Freddy, faster...”

If I tell you
Transition — a Paris magazine
that published Ezra Pound — printed
“Spire Song” by Paul Frederick Bowles…
I was only sixteen. When I was twenty,
the iconic Miss Stein said, “Freddy,
you don’t write great poetry.” I believed
her and left the City of Light
for the filth of Tangier.

If I tell you I traded the truth
of poetry for the invention
of prose. If I tell you I lived
loving a wife who filled
my dry pen while hers
spurted blood
like a shotgun wound.
If I tell you my stories,
greater than the lives
of people I knew…
if I tell you my stories,
how many times
would you say I lied?

—Karren Alenier

Posted by dwaber at May 29, 2007 12:59 PM