This was a solo performance at Small Press Distribution in Berkeley, at the old location on San Pablo Avenue, on April 19th, 1991. I shared a bill with, if I remember correctly, Nina Wise, Bob Ernst & Rachel Kaplan. I have no documentation of this event. The photo above is of me participating in Nao Bustamente's "Frigid Bride" performance in Klariska Cathedral, Bratislava, Czechoslovakia on October 11, 1991.OLD SODA body made of bundled white sheets is shrouded by a white sheet and lying atop a table. A lamp is suspended from and sways beneath the table-top. A large silver bowl filled with water is on the table next to the corpse’s head. Man is standing at the head of the table, arms spread as if crucified, holding candles in his hands.
The last approach. Wings down. Face down, faith down; the steep dive and failure to compensate, failure to perceive the spectacle of your own -Man lunges to one side trying to blow the candle out but his arm remains stiff and he can’t get his mouth any closer to the candle. Tries thus in vain each side several times, fails always to blow them out. He then slowly forces his arms in front of him and sinks candles into the bowl of water, extinguishing them.
A driven approach to what ails you.Before each of the following lines, Man moves table slightly but noisily, with his hands or thighs.And after each line he spits.
Move. A wheel around the heart. Spit.
Move. Redemption. Spit.
Move. Cynical humor. Spit
Move. Radical strategies. Spit.
Move. Carnal postures. Spit.Man then immediately plunges his whole head into the bowl of water for a long time, until he absolutely can’t hold his breath any longer. He then pulls his head from the water, yells out his line.
Oh sailor!Man grabs a quick breath and immediately shoves his head back in the water until he can’t hold his breath any longer.
Oh butcher!Man plunges his head in a final time and this time draws it out very slowly when he must. He slips his hand into the water and tosses some onto the corpse. He is no longer yelling; his voice is quite gentle and mournful.
Oh priest.Man moves to the side of the table opposite audience, runs his hand lightly over corpse.
Oh seamstress.Man moves to the foot of the table.
Oh butcher.Man lifts up the bottom of the shroud and crawls in under, to lie shrouded atop the corpse.
She dreams of a forest in exile. A problem of her own special intellect, rootless and flowering along flat roads leading nowhere. Thighs clattering. All the dry sticks of all bodies in conflagration.Man starts to hump the corpse slowly and gently.
Oh sailor.Keeps humping slowly.
Oh politician!Man stops humping, turns on flashlight which has been concealed under shroud.
Searching for that story you imagine buried deep inside that heart of lead you’ve been handed. Following the faint metallic taste inside your useless and unresponsive mouth. Crawling out of bed every morning, pulling the wool over your head and legs and going out into the field again to look for -Man sits up and strikes a kind of heroic pose, with arms uncovered but torso and head still shrouded. The flashlight is held high, pointing skyward, while the other hand gestures or points generally in the direction of where the flashlight beam strikes the ceiling.
Oh gleam. Oh faint stars.Shroud begins to slowly slip off Man’s head and torso. As his face is revealed, flashlight goes out. Man looks around for the “gleam” but it is not to be found. He sits back on his heels and pulls shroud around shoulders as if possibly against the cold.
Just look where we’ve landed, old sod. For all your silly flirtations and evasive answers. Buried in smiles and daft perfumes of pity. Where’s the good stout bottle of bitter sorrow when you need it? Aged sixty years inside the muscle of a dead tree, corked up with the skin of a living one. We put our liquors inside of wood, as in “we would have done.” As if memory were anything but our own speech come tunneling back at us. Ah, don’t mind me. Here, let’s pour you a drink. You look like you could use one.Man detaches “head’ bundle of sheet/corpse from “torso” bundle and submerges it into water bowl until it’s soaked through, then pulls it out and attempts to wring it dry, allowing the water to drip back into the bowl.
Drink deep. And think of me.Man unbundles the damp sheet and spreads it out over his face, head and torso. He then picks up another bundled part of the corpse and holds it to his chest as if nursing a baby.
Something’s bothering her. Oh actress: not bombs, not horror, not decision, not report, not blame, not squalor, not sex, not injury, not words, certainly not words.Man pulls the damp sheet off his head and wraps it around the “baby” bundle so that it can be slowly, rythmically and repeatedly slammed against the tabletop, for perhaps thirty seconds or perhaps longer. When the Man is exhausted, he speaks in a weary voice that grows fainter and finally fades away to nothing.
The whole sky lights up. Wings spread, you lie there. The faint stars brighten and dive down, you lie there. Carnal house, the earth rises up in expectation, you lie there, you lie there, failure to percei–Lights out. End.