Priestdaddy, Patricia Lockwood
Jewel Thief Movie
I was so happy in the gem room. The sun was president, I was just dug up, all hell had shrunk to a sulphur crystal. Something danced on the point; it must have been me. I had a hundred faces, and one of them served up the ceiling in a perfect slice — like a twelve-year-old saint in some countryside where they only read Revelation. I had some small nugget of sense, for once, I was a mind that understood the light ... Rain rained in my aquamarine. The world’s knuckles gripped the bedstead. I felt the red dynamiting of me in Missouri, where all outdoors was my candy store, where color sucked at its all-day self and never became less sweet, less new. “I want to put it in my mouth,” said someone, “I almost want to eat it ... ” I had dozens of uses, but I was mostly flat beautiful. Visitors just gasped in the matte-black room where I freely fluoresced. They saw me laid on a dictionary to demonstrate my transparency, which was complete; they could read the word everything through me. My name meant blood, meant seawater, meant lemon. The eye in my agate never blinked. I was believed to be formed of frozen moonlight. I was cut so that a star shone back. The purest and wind-clearest hunk of me they carved into a horse. When I was split to the purple and somehow still standing, they called me a cathedral. Yet just to the left of that I spilled all over velvet. The velvet is what did it — I wanted to be smuggled. Wanted to ride past all the alarms, just before that drop of sweat hit the floor. Wanted to end up in god- knows-whose hands, a heist. “Obscene,” said a man behind me, “just in piles like that ... obscene.” Then I spilled another carat, laughing. In Missouri you could pluck me straight up off the ground. Gumdrops, gobstoppers, jujubes. I thought: try to suck me down to nothing, and find yourself up against one million years. In piles like that. Just out there. For anyone. Obscene. The legs of the real thing were opening, flash and flash and flash. I said: go ahead and smash the glass. Give me a break-in like a kaleidoscope. Someone will entirely drip with me as soon as I get out of here.
Patricia Lockwood in Poetry, September 2017
Patricia Lockwood, from Priestdaddy
The Hypno-Domme Speaks, and Speaks and Speaks
I was born as a woman, I talk you to death, or else your ear off, or else you to sleep. What do I have, all the time in the world, and a voice that swings brass back and forth, you can hear it, and a focal point where my face should be. What do I have, I have absolute power, and what I want is your money, your drool, and your mind, and the sense of myself as a snake, and a garter in the grass. Every bone in the snake is the hipbone, every part of the snake is the hips. The first sound I make is silence, then sssssshhh, the first word I say is listen. Sheep shearers and accountants hypnotize the hardest, and lookout sailors who watch the sea, and the boys who cut and cut and cut and cut and cut the grass. The writers who write page-turners, and the writers who repeat themselves. The diamond-cutter kneels down before me and asks me to hypnotize him, and I glisten at him and glisten hard, and listen to me and listen, I tell him. Count your age backward, I tell him. Become aware of your breathing, and aware of mine which will go on longer. Believe you are a baby till I tell you otherwise, then believe you’re a man till I tell you you’re dirt. When a gunshot rings out you’ll lie down like you’re dead. When you hear, “He is breathing,” you’ll stand up again. The best dog of the language is Yes and protects you. The best black-and-white dog of the language is Yes and goes wherever you go, and you go where I say, you go anywhere. Why do I do it is easy, I am working my way through school. Give me the money for Modernism, and give me the money for what comes next. When you wake to the fact that you have a body, you will wake to the fact that not for long. When you wake you will come when you read the word hard, or hard to understand me, or impenetrable poetry. When you put down the book you will come when you hear the words put down the book, you will come when you hear.
Patricia Lockwood from Poetry, December 2013
That your attention is in one sense the most precious part of you, it is your soul spending yourself, to teach you that there’s always more.
That your attention is a resource that can be drafted, commandeered, militarized and made to march — like youth, passion, or patriotism.
That your attention can be diverted and used to power the devil’s Hoover Dam.
— how do we write now? patricia lockwood
Patricia Lockwood, Priestdaddy
Perhaps [Didion] promises that synthesis, even of a time like this, is still possible. ‘I went to San Francisco because I had not been able to work in some months, had been paralysed by the conviction that writing was an irrelevant act, that the world as I had understood it no longer existed.’ Perhaps she offers the feeling that if you write the facts down, the facts might somehow remain standing at the end, after the end. There is a small, unobtrusive reporter in the corner. She has outlasted everything else.
—Patricia Lockwood, “It was gold”