Noel Black Responds to Camille Roy’s “Bleeding the Lizard”

I love that I have no idea what’s going on in much of Camille Roy’s Sherwood Forest because it has a body. It’s dislocation and disorientation with a body that the tongue can touch, but only while reading. Nothing much had one in San Francisco in the late-90s (one of the few things she locates for us in an author’s note at the beginning). Gentrification politics, LANGUAGE poetry, theories without pussies and penises. Most importantly: both. I remember meeting Camille briefly at a party in Noe Valley out on the back porch at someone’s party after an Eileen Myles reading at New College. Her so-blonde fingers of hair and dark glasses (dangerous?)—I wanted to ask her something I didn’t know. I came from lesbians, not dykes, and not neither—not yet. She had clues to something most people couldn’t say. Here in “Bleeding the Lizard,” 15 years later, she tells me what I didn’t ask:

Chewing the mouth of saying nothing,
In the way of that,
I can’t attach my feelings to its circumstances.

I show Bob the new poem (the one with lovers X & Y) and he frets.
He wants them to be located, in relation, with real names—their floating
quality is unnerving, or perhaps just not ‘sufficiently articulated.’

The unnerving nothing does float. It only speaks ghost. Feeling and circumstances best left to their own devices, here. You’re allowed to want it, but not have it. Body robbing language of meaning, not the other way around, so we’re left with,

A representational hole: sad gutter in the throat.

That’s the answer you wanted before you knew the question.

Eventually, I met the heavenly creatures that inhabit these woods and scraped their cunts until they came. Not those woods. And not those either. They knew what I meant.

These poems do, too.

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