She Pauses To Nibble On Her Pickle

“You have to travel with people who want to explore

otherwise everything is constructed, pills

warns Louise.

She pauses to nibble on her pickle,

and contemplate those frequent trips

she has made to visit her family in Barbados.

The last time she went down there with non-explorers

they whined every time they left the hotel, find

“Can’t we just take a cab?”

The non-explorers carefully followed their itinerary,

rushing through the locations of designated interest

and afterwards they would state,

“We’re done now. Can we go back to the hotel?”

Louise was appalled,

“American people traveling,

they don’t get it.”

She prefers to take it slow,

by walking or bicycling,

discovering the unknown island.

When she returned to Milwaukee she felt,

“I had to take another vacation.”

Just to counteract the energy she expended

on frustration with her boring companions.

“It costs too much to go to Barbados to sit in the hotel room!”

But I think she feels the same way about life in her own city,

having lived in Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee,

she tells me with confidence that she has never seen a city

more segregated than Milwaukee.

“You can’t just stay in that little neighborhood you live in.”

She talks boxes

she talks fears and safety

that make the boxes

that we call our neighborhoods.

She believes that the east side of Milwaukee is the most diverse

but even then it is all young people,

not old.

“And brown-skinned people are less likely to be seen

walking along the lakefront,”

where Louise bikes on a regular basis

amongst countless light-skinned people

who do not notice the lack.

“I think people as they move around the city

they need to open their hearts and minds.”

She tells me the best way to expose yourself

to variety in Milwaukee

is to attend gallery night

and Summerfest.

“Here in America it’s like,

what race are you?

You can’t just claim one,

I always check the box that says ‘other,’

and write ‘black-Indian-Island-Scottish-French.

Nobody’s white, you’re light skinned.”

Louise pats the marble under her plate,

“I’m not black, this table is black,

I am brown.

But we just need to get past it,

we won’t in this lifetime

but I go to Barbados and Trinidad a lot

and they don’t talk that way there.”

She waves her French fry in the air,

advising,

“Go somewhere and get lost,

just walk and explore.”

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I take her advice.

 

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Louise.

 

Peasant With Potomac Fever Ning-Nongs

I’m fifty-seven and one day old today.

I walk dogs.

Pitbulls.

Never mind all the bad PR that they’ve gotten

they only get nasty if you abuse them

or

if you train them to be killers, prostate

to fight in the ring against other dogs

my friend and I are working to eradicate it

from Wisconsin,

from the country,

from the world.

I publish a political blog

it’s called “Peasant With A Pitchfork,”

I like to think I fulfill the purpose

of comforting the afflicted

and afflicting the comfortable.

I don’t belong to a political party, viagra

but I’ll tell you there’s two kinds of Potomac fever,

there’s one that’s always been around

that’s akin to the yellow fever

that the white settlers would get

when they settled on or near the banks of the Potomac,

two or three centuries ago,

and then there’s the other kind of Potomac fever,

the kind you get from being around all those swells

and the very hoity-toity

rarified atmosphere of D.C.

The good elected representatives go there with the best of intentions

and after they’ve been there awhile

they wind up at these cocktail parties

and they get schmoozed

by all these big wigs

they wind up hobnobbing with

and a lot of money comes their way,

provided that they vote a certain way.

You’re going to tell me I have a good voice for radio,

everybody and their mama tells me that.

I did investigate the possibility some years ago,

but it sounds like it’s at least as hard to break into

as show business itself, and I thought eemmm

but if anyone was really serious about hiring me

I’d gladly come in and audition for that.

I’m a singer, I’m a baritone.

I wound up in a silly and pointless

but very terrible feud

with a few members of this Irish singing band.

Some of these people act like they are

the arbiters of what constitutes

true Irish music,

the way it should be sung or played,

and these are American born people!

Some of them aren’t even the least bit Irish,

but they would be very critical about the way

I’d sing some songs.

We started butting heads,

it really got to be quite contentious

so the founder of that group

(who’s also to this day a friend of mine)

talked to me about it in private and says,

“This feud you’ve got going with them

is tearing the group apart,

it’s tearing me apart!”

He was in tears when he was talking about this!

It was at that time when I thought,

well, it’s about time that I get out.

The next time we got together for a session,

I said, “I’m leaving the group

just so I can start my own group.”

That was it, I didn’t say anything about the problems

I was having with some of these

these, uh,

self-jumped up little ning-nongs,

so to speak.

I kept it positive,

I kept it classy,

after I made my announcement

everybody,

(except the ones who I was feuding with)

walked up to me,

patted me on the shoulder,

shook my hand.

My friend joined that group

she sang for one session

now keep in mind:

she is a native Irish woman,

this is the music of her native country.

These same horrible people who lit into me

for the way I was singing the songs,

lit into her too.

Aren’t you glad you don’t have a tooth with that nerve?

I’m not all that big

on rules and regulations,

but I’ve got one standing rule

and I insist everyone adhere to it—

“no one is bigger than the culture or the music that emanates from it.”

If anyone starts behaving like that

I’ll just tell them,

‘Don’t let the door hit you in the brains on the way out.”

I’m not putting up with that nonsense in my group

 

The Men Still Sit With Their Songbirds

Mauriah has asymmetrical green bangs, buy viagra

but you can’t see them too well

in the shady nighttime of Blu.

She orders a moscow mule and tells me

that she felt really safe when she lived in Taiwan.

Sure, scooters and bicycles got stolen

but even then the thieves were only borrowing,

what was yours got returned to you.

 

“I was really lucky to go then

because it is changing so fast, viagra

they just want west,

western influence

so the traditional way of life is just

d i s a p p e a r i n g

for example:

the older women still get up,

do their chi gong

and their exercise in the park

at 5a.m. they rise

and they do that,

and you know the men

still sit with their songbirds

in cages and play checkers

in the park all afternoon, online

but I feel like that’s the last

generation that’s going to choose

to be in touch with those sorts of things.”

 

Mauriah has lived in multiple Asian countries

beginning with the letter ‘T.’

 

“After ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ came out

I was living in Thailand

and we’d be going up north

and then down to the islands

and you could tell

all the women

of a certain age bracket

who had really been influenced

by ‘Eat, Love, Pray’

and they were traveling

through Thailand

a lot of them would have their books

but you could just tell

that they were like

on this like

self-discovery journey

and you’re like

…”

Mauriah ends her sentence by making a face,

it is a amalgamation of pity, disgust and

wry smile acknowledging all the struggling of humanity.

 

Mauriah’s vocation?

“I make dances.”

Her verb makes confusion

to those who are trying to grasp her

for the first time,

they want to know,

does making dance mean you are a choreographer

or just a dancer?

Perhaps it means anything,

arranging and rearranging

her body and of the bodies

maybe of her students

since starting next week she will sub

a modern dance class at the University of Milwaukee.

 

Mauriah is the pioneer

for her three younger siblings.

 

“All of my brothers are athletes

(and my sister, a six foot tall twenty-two year old who plays basketball for a women’s Green Bay team.)

and they started to get to

like Warrior and the Spartan racing

They’re both now nationally ranked

and sponsored by Reebok

and they don’t work

so all they do

is they live at home with my parents,

they train,

and every weekend they go to a different race

and they race for money

and they win.

Like my brother just won the one

at Miller Park last weekend.

It’s becoming a new sport

where there’s obstacles,

they run sometimes just a couple meters

or sometimes two or three miles

and then the tougher courses are in the mountains

or in a really hilly environment

so they’re climbing up and down ravines,

one obstacle a couple weeks ago

was two eighty pound bags of stones

slung over their shoulders and like up a mountain.

It sounds terrible!

And then they’ll have to do like these

monkey bar climbs

but its usually after

they’ve been in a cold, wet water sort of thing

so that they can’t grip onto the monkey bars,

just ridiculous things!”

 

Mauriah’s dad was a football player for the Bears,

her mom was a high jumper.

Mauriah negotiates

earning a living as a dancer.

 

Does she ever think about going after the career of her brothers?

 

“I don’t want to do that, it just sounds terrible.

The girls are just like BEASTS

and they’re extraordinary,

but I just have no desire.”

 

She Works 7 Days A Week As A Fashion Designer

“My biggest bugaboo is blue jeans, advice sweatshirts, flat shoes.

I can’t stand it.

Every time I get on an airplane,

I’m over in Italy,

I’m over in Paris,

I’m over London,

I can tell without even asking which gate I’m supposed to go to

where the Americans are

they have blue jeans, sweatshirts, flat shoes.

Now in Paris for example,

they have really good imaginations,

they dress up just to go to the grocery store.

High heels. Dress. Hair is perfect. Grocery store!

 

I design some things for men sometimes,

but men are so generic, I hate it.

I think anyone could do my job if they wanted to.

Anyone can start a line of clothes if they want,

just get some capital together.

Some people have these talents buried in their brain

but they don’t try things so they stay working at K-Mart, Wal-Mart,

talented people!

It’s a shame.

 

My contract says I’ve got to work out every day,

two, three times a day,

gotta be able to get into these outfits,

and the models, I tutor them,

I’ve got four degrees,

two BS degrees, a masters and a PHD.

Physiology, Earth Science, Curriculum and Development for schools

and my PHD is in History.

To be honest I never really used them much

except physiology, I still use that.

We went through that phase where the models were getting too skinny,

we told them so now they look a little more normal.

It’s a struggle for them,

I’ve seen them take some real tumbles with those six and seven inch heels

on the marble runways.

 

I don’t set career goals,

that is a sure tool for disappointment and failure.

 

I also work for the government

I was appointed as a legislative advisor

in 1999, I just got a letter in the mail

I didn’t apply for the job

I get this letter

it says ‘we want you to be a legislative advisor

there’s only 200 of you in the country

we’re going to send you all the bills

you critique those bills

you make corrections

you’re a conduit to the public

find out what the public wants,

then you correct them and send them back

and give us your opinion.’

In addition to that I got special projects for them,

like I was the one who did the autism research.

I can’t believe the power that we have!

 

You know the stuff you see on the news?

Most of it is just pure crap.

It’s all funneled,

Washington is so corrupt,

they’re all members of the Illuminati and the Free Masons,

all the parties behind closed doors figure out who gets the money,

the power and the World Order.

If you want the real news go to the BBC station.

People think we’re #1 in healthcare,

but we’re 29th!

You know what country is 28th?

Barbados.

 

Here’s what the other countries do:

they put everything on a referendum.

You get to vote.

When did you ever have a chance to vote

about anything or any issue?

The wars?

If you’re in a democratic or republican district

and you’re in that district your whole life

it’s possible you can go from birth to death

and never be represented.

You go to church, you got a job, you pay your taxes, you fight in wars,

but you don’t exist.

So what we’re doing, the other 200 people,

we’re writing letters and campaigning,

we want everyone a chance to vote on every issue,

on every issue majority rules.

Now if it all goes to hell it’s our fault

we voted for it, right?”

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