Thursday, May 8, 2008

Another Recorded Song: "Villanelle for a Cocksucker"

Unlike the other two songs John Stanford and I have recorded over the past month, this one was written fairly recently (2005). It appeared in the short story "Nowhere to Hide: A Comedy of Manners or Lack Thereof", which was in The Velveeta Underground, my collection of short stories and one act plays published in 2006 as part of the EAA Signature Series, and now, alas, out of print. This was originally only envisioned as a poem to be read. The fictional "author" was Angie Wu, who scribbled it at the last minute, right before she was going to have to read a poem in Kenneth Koch's poetry class. The time is October, 1968. The place is The Lions Den, a somewhat seedy on-campus cafeteria that served as a hangout for the culturally radical fringe at Columbia. What follows is the lead-in to the poem and the poem (now song) itself:

After agreeing to take photographs of Will’s provocation, George headed to a table at the far back corner of the room where he saw Angie Wu leaning delicately over a notebook, writing rapidly. Angie was the most collegiate looking heroin abuser on the Columbia campus. George surmised that her genetic inheritance included dozens of generations of opium smokers. Angie's parents owned House of Wu, a restaurant in Silver Spring, Maryland, but there was a strong military tradition in the family. Her father had been a general who backed Chiang Kai-Shek in the civil war against Mao and the Communists, and later emigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan after a falling out with Chiang. Angie was cute as a button, with a stratospheric IQ and the constitution of Keith Richards. She had two sets of friends. One was a circle of very prim and conservative Chinese-American girls. The other, of which she was the queen bee, was a group of rock and roller heroin boys. You didn't get into Angie's bed unless you shared a needle with her. At exam time there would always be one person designated to refrain from getting high. His job was to get Angie up at 6am, throw her into a cold shower and make sure she was out the door in time to get to her exams, which she always aced, seemingly without doing any studying. George had never gotten into Angie's bed. His fear of needles had won out over his desire for Angie. But he had, on more than one occasion, been the person who woke her up and threw her in the shower. Just as he reached the table, Angie stopped writing, looked up, smiled with the corners of her broad mouth turned up slightly, and remarked cheerfully:

"Georgie Kazoo. What synchronicity! I was just thinking about you. Or more precisely, I was thinking about how I'd love to hear you read out loud the poem I just finished writing for Kenneth Koch's class. Will you do me the honor?"

Taking the notebook from Angie, George read:

Villanelle For A Cocksucker

When I look at you down there on your knees
And see your mouth all filled up with my cock
I hear the jangling of a set of keys.

Should service rendered perchance fail to please
One can stand up and rapidly take stock
Of what is real and what is just a tease.

This bed of yours is all filled up with fleas
They've made a new home inside of my jock
And robbed me of my mirth and of my ease.

I'm leaving you and heading for the trees
Where I can watch the fattened seagulls flock
Like Nazis whom the Frogs and Brits appease.

My new home is a skyscraper by Mies
With penthouse door on which you shall not knock
And kitchen where you shall not eat my cheese.

I plan to spend the winters in Belize
Where I shall never glance up at a clock
Or fill my engine up with anti-freeze
Or once again look at you on your knees.

"Wow, that was great Georgie. You should be doing voiceovers. After
listening to you I think I'll have the confidence to read it in class.
Will you walk me over to Hamilton Hall?"

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