Check me on fleek like the night
kitchen mothers, pucker and hum some; come,
I like to liquor louche; let’s watch the flock
of spring-heeled bound as borough cabs
exhaust their carbon phantoms like a gauche
of fuck. Do you unzoo, unrouge
to rat as white, what roughshod? Do.
I want the carnal as straight metacognition,
Beverly Jefferson Meets Red Peter at The Russian Tea Room
“[…] as uniformly as is the preference of the Oranootan for the black women over those of his own species.” — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia
“It is now nearly five years since I was an ape, a short space of time, perhaps, according to the calendar…” — Red Peter, from “A Report to an Academy” by Franz Kafka
Red Peter, it is so nice to meet you—I mean, you have to know how awful online dating can be. My father set us up—I think, based on your preferences in women, he thought we would have a lot in common. I must admit, I was excited to come to this restaurant. It is an excellent choice; the banana pudding is fabulous—the best in the city. I too love frequenting Paris, although I missed your performances with Hagenbeck. He also brought the world Otta Benga, did he not? I believe Mr. Benga resided in the same state where my father wrote his Notes. You are such a kind gentleman, compared to others. Here, let me adjust your bowtie; you’ve learned to be more human than most. Now, tell me, in your report to an academy, did you address your desires? Your dating preferences? Is the preference of the oranootan, in fact, for the black woman over his own species? Red Peter, my father would be very happy to hear about this date, if your preference is as such—I mean, for a woman like myself.
“This is what I live for: friendship and the things of the spirit.” Alberto de Lacerda often repeated this refrain to his friends. Friendship meant kinship, connection, and community. The things of the spirit were poetry, literature, art, dance—the myriad expressions of the spiritual and transcendent Alberto sought, and lived by, his whole life.
Such values perhaps couldn’t lead to anything but an intercontinental life.
From April 2017 to July 2017, poet, writer, collagist, and teacher Sebastian Matthews and I carried on a long-running conversation, which you will find excerpted below. It is high time to hear from this provocative and engaging poet who, after surviving a head-on collision with his wife and son in the car with him, went into relative literary and social seclusion for several years. While the newest book discloses the private life of trauma and the body, forthcoming projects concern Matthews’ public takes on race, culture, and identity. Always stretching to disclose what others would keep hidden is part of what makes his widening body of work both engaging and authentic.
I’m the kind of guy who when there’s a problem, I like to get on it. I don’t like the problem to get me, I like to get it. When there’s a problem, I face it—I don’t let it faze me. You could say I like to faze it. I like to face my problems and take care of them, I don’t let them take care of me.