The People of Distress
Going through a box of old ephemerae
I found a tiny notebook called The People of Distress.
The day I found the notebook
was the day I started reading up
on the gnostic gospels
late at night in Vermont, stoned,
the laundry rinsed
by the thunderstorm,
its slow musk
behind our ears
and inside our wrists.
I’m not sure, but I suspect
we have all been given the secret kingdom of God.
Taking VHS into the shadowy back bedroom;
Gesturing to blackflies and moths banging at the windows
that we are mighty
this is how I sit, a box of old papers
between my knees,
a warrior beyond death.
Nothing comes to us.
We work with what is already here.
We live at the garrison
tinfoiling over half-eaten peaches
while out in the world
there are those who believe
Jesus never kissed Mary Magdalene on the mouth
with his great, red, pharmaceutical tongue;
and there are those whose bodies
are perfectly made for erotic positions
in the seamless electricity of stark apartments.
I’m down at the river
gnawing at a sugar maple.
I’m down at the local bar
sheathing famous drinks into myself—
and I see it all—
so give me the parables, natural graves,
the androgynous hallelujah national forestry
of mid-state; give me the lightening,
armament of antique hatpins;
and give back all the bad poems,
because one day you’ll have to answer for them,
all the things you didn’t say.
I am patiently waiting.
Reading my early manifesto
which merely explains that I will one day
write the People of Distress via words
but for now it is all pictures.
It ends magnificently: I am nine now.
And it’s never been judged. Never been typed.
I wish I could take the offspring
out of the gnarled nests of my life
and let them drop.
All the luck of the world would let me in.
And good people
would have me over
for endless bright bloodshot evenings.
The People of Distress would get smaller
and the essential classical masterpieces
would get bigger.
And they would come out—the great tutors,
into the cool night breeze,
perfect gentlemen, grand madams,
to look at the stars of our hemisphere. To recite,
and nod, knowingly,
that this is how we see things through.
This is how all things end.
Bianca Stone is the author of several chapbooks, including Someone Else’s Wedding Vows (Argos Books), and the poetry-comic I Want To Open The Mouth God Gave You Beautiful Mutant (Factory Hollow Press). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2011, Conduit, and Tin House. Bianca Stone is also a visual artist and her collaboration with Anne Carson, Antigonick, a new kind of comic book and translation, was published in spring of 2012 by New Directions.