We dropped out of school, got di-vorced, broke with our families and
ourselves and everything we’d known.
We quit our jobs, violated ourleases, threw all our furniture outon the sidewalk, and hit the road.We sat on the swings of children’splaygrounds until our toes werefrostbitten, admiring the moon-light on the dewy grass, writingpoetry on the wind for each other.We went to bed early and lay awakeuntil well past dawn recounting allthe awful things we’d done to oth-ers and they to us—and laughing,blessing and absolving each otherand this crazy cosmos.We stole into museums showingreruns of old Guy Debord lmsto write
faster, my friend, the old world is behind you
on the backs of theater seats.
The scent of gasoline still fresh onour hands, we watched the newsun rise, and spoke in hushed voic-es about what we should do next,thrilling in the budding conscious-ness of our own limitless power.We used stolen calling card num-bers to talk our teenage loversthrough phone sex from telephonesin the lobbies of police stations.
We broke into the private poolsand saunas of the rich to enjoythem as their owners never had.We slipped into the ofces whereour browbeaten friends shufedpapers for petty despots, to draftanti-imperialist manifestos ontheir computers—or just sleep un-der their desks. They were shockedthat morning they nally walked inon us, half-naked, brushing ourteeth at the water cooler.
We lived through harrowing, ex-hilarating moments when we didthings we had always thought im-possible, spitting in the face of allour apprehensions to kiss unap-proachable beauties, drop bannersfrom the tops of national monu-ments, drop out of colleges . . . andthen gritted our teeth, expectingthe world to end—but it didn’t!
We stood or knelt in emptyingconcert halls, on rooftops underlightning storms, on the deadgrass of graveyards, and sworewith tears in our eyes never to goback again.We sat at desks in high school de-tention rooms, against the wornbrick of Greyhound bus stations,on disposable synthetic sheets inthe emergency treatment wardsof unsympathetic hospitals, onthe hard benches of penitentiarydining halls, and swore the samething through clenched teeth, butwith no less tenderness.We communicated with eachother through initials carved intoboarding school desks, designsspray-painted through stencilsonto alley walls, holes kickedin corporate windows televisedon the ve o’clock news, lettersposted with counterfeit stamps orcarried across oceans in friends’packs, secret instructions codedinto anonymous emails, clandes-tine meetings in coffee shops,love poetry carved into the planksof prison bunks.We sheltered illegal immigrants,political refugees, fugitives from justice, and adolescent runawaysin our modest homes and beds,as they too sheltered us.We improvised recipes to bakeeach other cookies, cakes, break-fasts in bed, weekly free meals inthe park, great feasts celebratingour courage and kinship so wemight taste their sweetness onour very tongues.We entrusted each other with ourhearts and appetites, togethercomposing symphonies of ca-resses and pleasure, making lovea verb in a language of exaltation.We wreaked havoc upon their gen-der norms and ethnic stereotypesand cultural expectations, show-ing with our bodies and our rela-tionships and our desires just howarbitrary their laws of nature were.We wrote our own music and per-formed it for each other, so whenwe hummed to ourselves wecould celebrate our companions’creativity rather than repeat theradio’s dull drone.In borrowed attic rooms, wetended ailing foreign lovers andstruggled to write the lines thatcould ignite the res dormant inthe multitudes around us.
In the last moment before dawn,ashlights tight in our shakinghands, we dismantled power boxeson the houses of fascists who wereto host rallies the following day.
We fought those fascists tooth,nail, and knife in the streets, whenno one else would even confrontthem in print.We planted gardens in the aban-doned lots of ghettos, hitchhikedacross continents in record time,tossed pies in the faces of kingsand bankers.We played saxophones togetherin the darkness of echoing cavesin West Virginia.
In Paris, armed with cobblestonesand parasols, we held the gen-darmes at bay for nights on end,until we could almost taste the newworld coming through the tear gas.
We fought our way through theirlines to the opera house and tookit over, and held discussions theretwenty-four hours a day as to whatthat world could be.In Chicago, we created an under-ground network to provide illegalabortions in safe conditions anda supportive atmosphere, whenthe religious fanatics would havepreferred us to die in shame andtears down dark alleys.
In New York we held hands andmassaged each other’s shoulders asour enemies closed in to arrest us.
In Quebec we tore up the high-way and pounded out primordialrhythms on the trafc signs withthe fragments, and the sound wasvaster and more beautiful than anysong ever played in a concert hall.
In Santiago, we robbed banks tofund papers of transgressive poetry.In Siberia, we plotted impossibleescapes—and carried them out,circumnavigating the globe withforged papers and borrowed moneyto return to the arms of our friends.
In Montevideo, in the squattedtownship, we built huts from ply-wood and plastic sheeting, piratedelectricity from nearby power lines,and conferred with our neighborsas to how we could contribute toour new community.
In San Diego, when they jailed us forspeaking our minds, we invited ourfriends and lled their prisons untilthey had to change their policy.
In Oregon, we climbed trees, andlived in them for months to pro-tect the forests we had hiked andcamped in as children.In Mexico, when we met hoppingfreight trains, we traded storiesabout working with the Zapatis-tas in Chiapas, about oods wit-nessed from boxcars passingthrough Texas, about our grand-parents who fought in the Mexi-can revolution.
[ Overture:A True Story ]