Work of Lisa Phoenix
Soul Food Cafe Patrons
Introducing Lisa Phoenix
i've been thinking about Vi's found poem, on the photographer's card: such a lyrical and enticing description of his work. i went rummaging to see if i could find some of my own, from the days when i'd thought poetry had forsaken me forever.
robot waitress: "Hello-my-name-is-lisa-i'll-be-your-server-today-let-me-tell-you-about-our-specials..." (i hated waiting tables, can you tell?)
road song, Berkeley to Boston and back again:
cabbie: before he let me take a cab out for the first time, my boss made
me recite all of the streets running east to west, Hopkins to Alcatraz,
and then all from north to south, Grizzly Peak Blvd in the hills to Frontage
Road along the water. i can't do it anymore, even though i live here;
but my body knows the way around town.
a nursery rhyme learned in paramedic school:
shock, shock, shock
( Translated, word for word: "shock" was defib paddles, increasing joules; "everybody," epinephrine; "little" - lidocaine; and "big" for bretyllium. With such incantions we trained to restart stopped hearts and snatch people from the jaws of Death, thereby, we thought, "saving their lives." i liked being a paramedic; it nullified all my questions in black and white reportese, distilled all my restless yearning-for-who-knows-what into simple algorithms of life and death, and provided me with a shiny hero's mask to hide behind; i never thought about the future. )
We packed parachutes for $5 each, saving up for a sunset jump; we leapt from perfectly good airplanes to hold hands in the sky, our grins widened in a wind-blown crazy rictus, and when the altimeter read 1000, we Waved our companions off, Arched back into the wind, Looked for our ripcord, Pulled it toward the approaching earth, Checked once over our shoulders as the canopy unfurled and seemed to yank us back up toward the sun, and Checked a second time, looking for the drop zone near the blue-roofed barn. In all those jumps i never once landed on the big yellow X, forever drifting off course under my synthetic silk rainbow, too euphoric to pay proper attention. Once i landed in a neighboring tomato field, where i sat in the furrow and laughed, so glad to find myself again so glad to be alive, so thrilled with the new-found knowledge that i could, and would, save my own life, too. i filled my pockets, bundled up my chute, and trudged back through the mud, and all agreed they were the most magically ambrosial tomatoes they'd ever tasted.
Nowadays i have a another job, a good one, but it will take time before i can hear it's song and sing it to you. i've recovered my questions and restless yearnings, thank goodness, and i'm finding poems everywhere - not forsaken after all. If it's true, as Jane Yolen says, that "we write to know ourselves," then i think i've begun at last my true life's work.