Tracie Morris is a poet who’s worked as a page-based writer, sound poet, critic, recording artist, scholar, bandleader, actor, artist consultant, vocal coach and multimedia performer. She presents her work widely around the world. Her sound installations have been presented at the Whitney Biennial, MoMA, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Ronald Feldman Gallery, The Silent Barn, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, The Drawing Center, DIA: Chelsea and other galleries and museums. Tracie is the recipient of NYFA, Creative Capital, Asian Cultural Council and other grants, and fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell and Millay artist colonies. She is a former CPCW Poetics fellow of the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Intermission and Rhyme Scheme. Her most recent book is handholding: 5 kinds from Kore Press (2016). She is co-editor, (with Charles Bernstein) of Best American Experimental Writing 2016 from Wesleyan University Press. Tracie holds an MFA in Poetry (Hunter College, CUNY) a PhD in Performance Studies (NYU), has studied classical British acting technique at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and American acting at Michael Howard Studios in New York. Tracie is Professor and Coordinator of Performance + Performance Studies at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York.
Red hued brick and siding holding porous heat, stars blazed out
Adjacent to the round-top cement building, a former synagogue
We sat around eating fried food in our natural habitat
Partitioned Brooklyn between Berriman and Hegeman Sts.
White noise of the freezer, then a rumble, reached its ta-da,
Went down to kitty sound, sleepy, then silent.
A sound – applause? Nope, the cast-iron stove’s collected works.
July’s oven-roasting. We consume the meat’s enzymes in order
to save them. Everything sienna off quiet brown
appliances of my recall. Cabinets sunny disinfected yellow.
Afternoon sun crisps Bronzeville outdoors. People
dig out sliver Everreadys from cushioned
car seats’ couched, commandeered from kids’ Popeye,
Farah Fawcett transistors set to James Brown.
Hot Pants!! What news, man? Who needs the same ol’ same?
Con Ed made all a forced vacation – Welcome to our club!
(Crack your mother’s back with them high bills.)
Twisted silent G.E. toasters, Maranz stereos, Philips TV parade
down the street, Looney Tunes a year late, the spirit
of America. We watched from the block, cuttin’ up! Cee-lo,
hopscotch ‘til the sun set and we couldn’t see, throw.
Flour-dusted chicken legs, make gas pop blue-flame red. A lil
Girl carries Chinet plates to plastic white + blue weave lawn chairs.
Lawnless though, play sub-urban. Johnny pump sprinkling all
out. Gramma going from red bone to teak, frying all day.
Now my home’s seasoned cast iron skillet’s refract echoes. Car horn? The ram gave himself for new years. Mortar crackles the wall.
If I Reviewed Her (excerpt
(inspired by Gertrude Stein’s “Tender Buttons”)
If I reviewed her, if I reviewed her. I reviewed her. Her her button. Her boutonniere. Her boobeleh. Her boo. Her Too. Her Tooklas. Her view. Her book. Herbal.
If I viewed her like I used to. I talked to. I teased her. I teach her. I reach. I rearview.
“If ‘if’ was a fifth…” Black lettres. Black pov. “res” onate. Ur-words. Sona. Salon. If I revved up, I could view her through another glass, Toklas, another poem. Whats a smatter-shattering. That piece of bright bling attached to a cloth with sharp edges,
rounded o’er time, a button. A carafe.
What patterns clash? What suits ya? What cymbals? What Sabians, Armenians, Jews, Germans, Blacks, Americans? Euro-detritus? Ex-plights’ us? I wonder.
The “gratitude of mercy” is not explained. Isn’t made plain. The nose on your face, lalala vie en rose. What colors rise? Vie(w) finder the size of a nickel. A dime, the side of it, is the side of a button, the way it hems the pocket. The way you finger it. The pointed nature.
Blood in the face. Blood on the leaves. It’s a violet hue. It shifts from blue. A shift is a ditty dress. Dirty is yellow at points. Whitest whites not coal-colored. Not coal. What’s matter? A large box clocks handily. It cloaks. When I do count the clack that tells what I re-sign to be, ore no (t).
Lilies are white unless tiger, unless striped. Unless (la) t (i) tude. Un-less and un-still, etude. What’s the sound in that box? What kind of box is it? Harmonica, piano, coffin, shoo? Masque of red. Of Venice, of revenge, of reverb. The purpose of a box is to let things bounce around inside, not out. They’re all maracas, all boxes, all cojones. And that is why there aren’t brass ones. They’re bells and open at the bottom. Like a review.
Stepping up to the plate to review is base. It is the ground. It’s dirty. It’s around. It’s cutting corners like sports for war. It’s saying pen’s mightier: a tool, a gourd. Assessments are objects. Alchemical and base.
At the bottom is Jimmy Cobb in Miles’ kinda color. Chambers’ music from an engorged lighting in a bottleneck. The fretting comes plaited, the strings curve around the fingers S, a female shape. A dress. A Tiffany lamp, a vamp to attest, to a taste. Petit for-fours.
A swallow bubbles. Bubbles up words. Polite Tourettes’. A set of words water the mouth. They are things that take shape that glide down the throat. Taken (a)back, tobac. A carbo-nation, a turbo-nation a turn. The bubbles, Brooklyn circles sweet simple syrup. Another slender needle.
A recording. These pieces of a house of hers. Her work, her dust, her…polishing. The dark places gleam in this paperstock card house and its phoneme particles across the board. A rainbow.
handholding: 5 kinds (Kore Press, 2016)
Rhyme Scheme (Zasterle Press, 2012)
Intermission (Soft Skull Press, 1998)
Creative Capital Foundation
Asian Cultural Council