They lied to you about the destruction, about the blink of day to night. We played to an audience of static, not smoke. The men in white suits never came for us. We wore the white, the permanent surrender, took shelter in the peacock of stained-glass window. We lacked the oxygen to catch fire, choked through calisthenics while someone else’s match exhaled. Our bodies snapped into position, the last semblance of upright.
We hope you never find out what it’s like to have your face placed on another face, to feel another voice when you sing. A fire’s shadow doesn’t burn. The reflection of a band plays only one dimension per ear. These are the words of a man whose head can’t find its body. There’s no we anymore, band scattered like a rifled pigeon. What’s left of me speeds along the highway swallowing white stripes, blurring the spaces where they force you to stay.
Title is a lyric from “Burning Down the House” by Talking Heads (#9 on Billboard Hot 100, 1983).
The collectors of chipped heels and horse heads missed it, saying it all began with fuzzed-out amps, the biker engines of ’68. It was easy not to see the French countryside, tucked in the late Fifties, where a handful of pre-adolescent giants roamed. A man who chronicled the lives of people who wait, of garbage people looking toward the end, this man domesticated one of the giants. He would pick him up in the only truck large enough, would drive him to school so he could learn the language of humans, their algebra, their war histories; the giant learned to conjugate. Foreseeing the dissolution of humankind, the man did not worry about the giant eating him up. In time, the giant became curious about human games because giants did not play. In French, the giant would ask about a game in which men would swing a wooden prism at a leather sphere. They spoke of the sound the prism would make when it missed the sphere, the high-pitched hiss of air that can mean only loss. That hiss would be transcribed for stringed instruments, electric tools. Only a meeting between human and giant could have created such music, the beats of bodies that live inside metal, bodies that never have to die.
On Her Own Initiative
She hit the scene, leather vs. cinderblock: legs on the album cover, white mice climbing on legs. She lived in red pumps, lived in red-stenciled blackness. When she emerged in light, her hair clawed at the sky. She writhed on automobiles rented for a day, smoldered through lenses through glasses through head. She married men who stood on blown-glass legs. She held the hammer, got locked up for chopping down the vines of giants. Now the let-go men say, She’s let herself go. Less than fit for their conquests equals last legs. Now all men walk with a limp. Today she will write: I never know what someones going 2 come up & say I really liked you in…. Today they will keep coming up and saying. They will always keep coming up and saying, always try to make eye contact stiletto high.