Story Behind the Poem | Brown Room in The White House

Written August 2018. One year after my father died. Grief hit.

Written August 2018. One year after “Grab Her by the Pussy” was spoken by a presidential nominee, disappearing into the echo of the news feed. Memories surfaced.

Written August 2018. The month Dr. Christine Blassey Ford shared the story of Brett Kavenaugh’s sexually assault. Flashbacks tantrum-ed.

Written August 2018. The month before I told my partner I could only take care of myself. Exhaustion won. Hope lost.

I wrote this after a dog walk. In one sitting. I felt possessed. It was frightening. It saved my life.

The story behind that last sentence? It is an 80-page collection “OnBecoming: Aesthetic Evolution of this Rising Ancestor,” set to release fall 2020.

Brown Room in The White House

first published in Caustic Frolic, Spring 2019

Part I
In the House around the corner.

“I just want to know what it feels like”

he said to me, my pants pulled down and my arms held above my head.
(labor day before junior year)

The large cork board to the left.
A poster of Kiss, in full make-up (disguise).
Spinal Tap (the mockumentary),
Farrah in her red bathing suit (buffet of descriptors).

The bed was filled with water.
The walls were brown.
My right hip froze in fear – 32 years later, the hip soldier grips when I grieve.
“I just want to know what it feels like”
Those words, all alone, sitting in my memory.
Just. Those. Words.
I just want (to invade you so I can learn)
I just want (you to give in so I will feel something I want to feel)
I just want (you to sit here quietly and do what I say)
I just want (you to go along with the lie that this is right)
I just want (you to realize your place in the world)
I just want (you to lay there and wait for me to understand something I don’t currently understand)

There. That is it.
Wait. Wait.
I need to pretend you aren’t here, so I can ________.

Part II.

I was 4 when my cat was attacked by the neighbor’s dog. She was being thrown around like a chew toy in my front yard. I ran into the house for my parents’ help. I ran in, loud, dramatic. Unconcerned with what was happening inside. It was an emergency. “Jill, shhhhh, this is important. We are watching this.” The news. Politics. The noise of politics takes up space. MY space.
It was 1974. The news of Tricky Dick’s House.
I froze.     I waited.

My spacetime came. It was too late.

That night, my cat sat in the shiny, stainless steel kitchen
sink. Panting. In pain. Dying. No vet. No pain killer. No
mercy killing. I sat in the sink next to hers. Comforting
her. Not wanting her to be alone.

Waiting for her to no longer suffer.
Waiting with my cat, knowing suffering comes and goes, and
all we can do is listen and be with.
The waiting to be heard. The waiting for the death.

Death, the consequence of waiting.

It changed me inside.

My four year old

I was the only one not interested in Tricky Dick.
I was the only one who was interested in listening.
I was the only one in the second sink.

MY life would be full of waiting for others to discover, to learn, to “get it.”
MY role was to wait and let them learn.

I became the master of waiting.

My hip soldier tells me when I wait too long.
It reminds me that not everyone wants to live a life defined by this purpose.
It whispers to me “Some people will take advantage of your waiting.”

Sometimes waiting is beautiful.
Sometimes waiting is compassionate.
Sometimes waiting is a slow fuck.
Sometimes waiting is rape.
Sometimes waiting is death.

It is funny, the way life teaches us to discern subtle meanings. haha.

I don’t want to learn this.
And I don’t want to wait.

Part III.

Trump’s House.
Where tricks are turned for dicks
and souls for phallacies

Permission granted – forced –[BROWN ROOM. BROWN ROOM.] (remember. remember.)

Nixon is the decade’s distraction.
The abstraction of the world’s ailings, dosed down to the TVeaspoon we can swallow, and still keep down.
Gets us just angry enough, but not angry enough.
It happens in that little box we can turn off.
In that other neighborhood.
In that other house.
In that other person.

Nixon distracted people.
Nixon killed my cat.
Nixon raped me.

24-hour news
Pocked sized TVeaspoons
“Likes” and “Friends”
Trump. (the decade’s distraction)

The resulting cognitive dissonance
silences altar boys
children in cages

“Be quiet and wait.” They will say.

“What happens in the meantime?” I reply.

MY ears turn towards the sounds inside

MY House,

inside ME.

Part IV.

Inside MY house.

They move towards the attention they seek.
Familiar way of connecting,
or, perhaps the familiar ache for connection.

Political satire.
Women in bathings suits.
Altar boys.
TVeaspoon sized playgrounds.
Rightness Anger.
Truth in politics
Truth from death.

(Truth, I do the same)

In MY house,
I ache for marathon ears.
I ache for exposed eyes.
I ache for vouchsafe hands.

For not waiting until death do us part.

I don’t seek reporting.
and the hushing of trickster dicks)

I seek to share stories.
ME stories.
YOU stories.

WE stories.

In MY house
I no longer wait. I listen and speak for MY soldier hip

in MY inside’s

outside voice.

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