It’s difficult to locate the impetus for the term “Post Identity Politics.” I’ve asked around to find a glut of differing interpretations.
Chris Martin invited me to respond to Ronaldo V. Wilson’s amazing and incredibly important book POEMS OF THE BLACK OBJECT. Okay, he actually asked me to respond to one poem. So I chose “THE BLACK OBJECT’S ELASTICITY,” from the section “THE BLACK OBJECT.”
THE BLACK OBJECT’S ELASTICITY
It’s not as though I felt my body. It’s not like I will ever return. In a room, where midnight blue coats the wall, and a black light is bolted to the ceiling, a shirt glows white. A horizon of two bulbs cut the room to a yellow painted galaxy in the corner. Not from daylight or window, I escape fluorescence.
“Fuck You!” “Enjoy your hike back to New York!” “I’m confused.” “I’m not even sure why I’m doing this.” Answering machines can take such, but how to take being called an idiot by an illiterate and to be recalled by that name until three in the morning by this stranger, an alcoholic, a truck driver, who eats steak and beans.
There are always ways to avoid abuse, some of which have to do with finding a replica of your abuser. One face becomes another face. The red eyes of a lover whose wife is sick, who longs for shemales, who has left his ten acres and lives in a beige box in a trailer park, are replaceable by the right tuft of beard.
I will always remember that flash of his body, where the hips slipped to a redness peeling off the buttock, the rotted nail in the toe, or the teddy bear in the bed the therapist wanted him to cuddle. What I want is to extend from one decay to another—beer breath to yellow teeth to his eyes sunk to hurt.
I feel like a disembodied car part: a pop-up headlight’s internal arm that breaks then stabs the radiator, dooming the engine. I know the difference between the engine’s injury and the knife in the dish rack, my running as clear as the distance the moon, running at night, and tread mill, running in place.
“What I want is to extend from one decay to another–”
This poem has me properly disturbed. And I do not mean disturbed as in SHOCKED by wild sex. There is enough porn on the internet to make the most pleasurable worlds mundane. Wilson disturbs in the best sense, as in NOT ALLOWING a comfortable tea party to replace the actions of real live people to be — yet again — invisible with poetry.
The term “Identity Politics” is bad enough. It’s meant to annihilate the efforts of those who literally bled for the room they made for us all. “Identity Politics” makes a joke of it. It says that all it ever was was wallowing in the filth and conspiracy of politics, a game, it’s all just been a game.
So then “Post Identity Politics” says THE GAME IS OVER. Stop your bitching and moaning because there is no more racism, homophobia, sexism, classism, GET OVER IT. Yet even the LGBT “community” leadership is whiter and wealthier by the day.
In Philadelphia there were so many black drag queens murdered in 2009 we had a mass memorial. And THAT should be page fucking one in all the queer magazines and newspapers. Page one instead is always about marriage, with lots of angry, white, upper middle class gay couples DEMANDING tax breaks and a fatasy wedding cake. Do they know or care about the murders? If you’re white enough, and rich, you get page one. Priorities. Priorities.
“There are ways to evade abuse, some of which have to do with finding a replica of your abuser. One face becomes another face.” Wilson’s courage to free his poems from a world gone mad looking for comfort sets a new high water mark. Are you below it? Need a snorkel? The brutalized dark skin of America, Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, where do we stop?
The elasticity of the black object has been too much to ask.
CAConrad is the recipient of the 2009 Gil Ott Book Award for The Book of Frank (Wave Books, 2010). He is also the author of Advanced Elvis Course (Soft Skull Press, 2009), (Soma)tic Midge (Faux Press, 2008), Deviant Propulsion (Soft Skull Press, 2006), and a collaboration with poet Frank Sherlock, The City Real & Imagined (Factory School, 2010). He is a co-founder of PACE (Poet Activist Community Extension). The son of white trash asphyxiation, his childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift. Visit him online at http://CAConrad.blogspot.com or with his friends at http://PhillySound.blogspot.com