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BERMTTER'S DEATH DANCE

LAURA HINTON

BLAZEVOX[BOOKS]
Buffalo, New York

bermtter's Death Dance


by Laura Hinton
Copyright 2016
Published by BlazeVOX [books]
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without
the publishers written permission, except for brief quotations in reviews.
Printed in the United States of America
Cover design, interior design, and typesetting by Geoffrey Gatza
Cover photo by Bernard Roy, with image concept by Elizabeth New
Drawing of skulls taken from "Real American Heroes," by Vickers Gringo (Paul Daniel Lyon, 1978-2010), front
and back cover, with Photoshop enhancement provided by Ronni Raygun Thomas and Elizabeth New
First Edition
ISBN: 978-1-60964-241-9
Library of Congress Control Number: 2015958570
BlazeVOX [books]
131 Euclid Ave
Kenmore, NY 14217
Editor@blazevox.org

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The sun dropped its leaf like a sun diary
turning its page to shadow . . . death closing in.
Barbara Guest, "Nighthawk"

Clair-Voyage / Le Rayol (Shared Death Experience)


This sunlit sky is the sign of luminance dissolving into radiance.
Tibetan Book of the Dead1
A table is made
though they say all are taken
A live lobster is boiled
in front of tourists eyes
Ordering all beings of flesh
we are out of order as
mothers line up with sand-baked children
leave dirty crusts on bathroom floor
Sign in French instructs: No Dripping
One waltzes through a darkness
versus radiance light of blue
rays rapping our heads impossible to tell
if not yet discovered means a marketed site
whose pseudo-isolation has no name
hidden paradise forgets
fortune-hunters shopping coastlines
. . . watery
boundaries
permit . . .
no shells
merge . . .
optical

bland

equipment
floats

body

lacking . . .

(any kind of

proper
suction . . .)
extra / ordinary
system . . .
counting . . .

liquids

Robert Thurman, trans., Tibetan Book of the Dead (New York: Bantam Books, 1993); from "a prayer for
the reality in-between.

15

in a rhythm like

mathematics . . .

wavering . . .
rivulets

greens
seem

appear . . .
night dreams

spreading
day dreams

wet basins . . .

leaking . . .
white

channel

fluids
"scene"

amplitude
or . . .

luminance

dissolve/ing
No humming, no camera
stops for the seeded glitter
a silver parole
via word stream, arrives
le rayol
calls for a sea screen
Typology of the bottom?
like lumire
voiceless
lumineuse

because men imagined

fluids to be female
So the feminine undertow might have sound not speech
I am the flesh of a cheek
moist I am
ing
Flotsam
debris
scandalizes

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sink-

far out at sea


angel bay rounds

le littoral

we are
watching
water breasts
heaving . . .

And you my bright child


along this writing path
a hummingbird visits
longs to get in
hits my window
caged, like me
my music scored with your lips
my maternity
leaps
through recollected
spongy warm words
yours
but my breasts fallen

I fancy it
a frog perpetuates

as if by shock
People on the beach
glow from here
appear / ing
float / ing
all say:

at the watery distance


a / way

Merci Merci Millefois


Les feuilles
we hear the tones
human vowels on waves
diphthongs sing
the leaves, the leaves
the pastries we didnt eat
what we couldnt buy, couldnt pronounce
didnt need
A rupture for every footprint
etched in delicate sloped rock

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I am picking you out


of a sand pit
We had everything

to fall in to

What could I dofoster the width of this circumference?


clarity . . . paradise . . .
Your 'geni-osity" swallows
mermaid . . . mirage . . .

Suited body wades down in upward thrusts


Yellow porpoise wanders by
laying cool tracks
its silicone air
a blast
the sea just a tourist rip-off
sky plus breeze
ten bumping heads
children buoyed in off-limit zones
a boat, a play thing
zooms pastI see it all
at light speed
the Buddhas landfill
*
Prayer for the dead:
Now this mirage you see is the sign of earth dissolving in water. This smoke is the sign of water
dissolving into fire. These fireflies are the sign of fire dissolving into wind. This candle flame is the
sign of wind dissolving into consciousness. This moonlit sky is the sign of consciousness dissolving
into luminance. This sunlit sky is the sign of luminance dissolving into radiance. This dark sky is the
sign of radiance dissolving into imminence. This predawn twilight sky is the sign of imminence
dissolving into clear light.1

Thurman, Tibetan Book of the Dead, 123-124.

18

bermtter's Message
At 9:39 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on August 9, a NYPD detective called my American cell
phone. That is, I believe a NYPD detective called my American cell phone. I didnt answer
my phone. I didn't recognize the 718 Brooklyn, New York, telephone prefix.
I was in Nice, France.
At 9:39 a.m. EDT, I was in a doctor's office in Nice, France. I was admiring a young woman's
newborn baby in a doctors office in Nice, France. I was talking and talking in Nice, France,
with this young woman in the doctors office. I was taking pictures of her newborn baby.
The young woman was about the age of my adult son. I was recalling my own son and
talking about him to this young woman with her newborn baby. I was talking about my
adult son not as a man but as a newborn baby like her own. I was remembering with
startling presence the emotion of loving my newborn sonas if my son, an adult, had just
been born.
All time collapses in the love of my son, at the time that a NYPD detective is calling me.
*
Actually, I do not know if a NYPD detective ever called me. Later, I did, in fact, call a NYPD
detective. He told me that he was very sorry that my son was dead.
When at 9:39 a.m. EDT on August 9, 2010, a strange Brooklyn number flashed on my
cellular phone screen, I assumed it was a mistake. I was in Nice, France.
A message was left on my cell phone.
The message is still on my cell phone. I do not erase it.
It has been a year now. I will not listen to the message. I will not erase it.
I have never listened to any message.
All time collapses . . . remains suspendedin another time.
*
Two days later, on August 10, 2010, my son's girlfriend told me via a different telephone that
my son was found in his room, in Brooklyn, New York, "not breathing."

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I told my son's girlfriend that my son, therefore, was "dead."


My son's girlfriend did not use the word, "dead."

20

Depuis (Death Dance)


Scored text for voice and movementtwo readers and a dancer
(Solo voices alternate lines)
pp Since voice messages and text messages do not translate over the Atlantic
/ The dance: Hands surround face
head leans right
p Since babies grow to men and man to child
/ left arm spins and makes basin figure with
both hands, left leg slightly rises
fp Since lullabies are grounded in someones music past
/ arms sweep past feet and aim left
ff Since a grandmother stopped walking
/ left leg reaches upward with alternating
arms stretched in air
p Since a father stopped talking
/ knees bow out, hands cover ears
pp Since a father disappeared
/ bent knees point left, hands fold together in
prayer form but facing the ground
p Since brothers are not kin and cannot see
/ right leg extended, arms fold toward chest
fp Since a few of us are gathered around a tree
/ trunk lifts, arms form a circle, spin
ff Since the giant bulb blew up your movies green screen
/ full body leaps in air twice, arms make
big circles
f Since a man fell out of the sky past my window in despair
/ right leg forward, full body collapses, rolls
to the ground
p Since the gardener drank all the cognac
/ then rolls back up into a half-scissor shape,
eyes look left
pp Since fireflies scanned the forest in the dark
/ full body turns left, right knee bends forward
(Chorus:)
fp Since we slept in the dirt by a creek at 4-Corners
/ right leg forms triangle
ff Since we did a corpse pose in Death Valley looking at stars
/ full body crawls between the two speakers,
lies on floor, hands and feet splayed

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ff

Since the memory dangles chillingly in the yellow leaves


/ sitting in floor posture, holds gaze
toward and as if through an audience
fp Since grief postpones
p

Since the astral holds


/ (Dancer sings lines with Chorus:)

pp Since you went away


I reach for you . . .
You suddenly disappear . . .

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Coroners Report
A boy who had a mother now is Case No. 431.
A boy who grew to be a beautiful man now is Body No. K10-3964 in the Brooklyn Morgue.
The Coroner's laboratory will take at least 6 weeks to process the toxicology report.
It will be at least 2 months before the Coroner's Report can be issued by City Hall.
I have to make 3 phone calls, visit 1 Police Precinct, and swear before 2 judges to get my
son's keys and wallet back. This takes nearly 2 months.
The mortician demands: How many copies of the Death Certificate do I want?
The chairman of the Graveyard Association wants to know: Will I buy 1 burial plot, or 2?
I wonder if we should keep the numbers down at graveside.
I wonder if 100 people can fit into 1 small room.
I wonder if 2 girlfriends1 current, 1 formercan fit into 1 small room.
I wonder if 8 beers over 10 hours can kill an adult male aged 32.
*
I am given a primer book on grief, in which a bereaved mother asks:
How many children do I now have3, or 2?
My son, my only child, is dead. Am I supposed to wonder:
am I still a mother?

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As He Goes, A Lullaby (Putting My Child to Sleep in His Room)


Spoken and sung text over recorded collage piano / vocal phrases from "Goodnight, My
Someone" (The Music Man) and Hindu mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum"1
Leather bracelets loop slender wrists
chains identity the artist
pairs of socks that wrap long feet
sweaters knit
unknit this summer night

guitar strings stretch musician hands


plastic identifies the man
gathered up and boxed

I wish you may and I wish you might. . . .


Our star is shining its brightest light
window breaks summers shade
sunny Sun-day you drift to sleep
drift . . .
to sleep . . .
singing . . .
I'm playing . . .
as you go . . .
Im

singing
Sleep tight my someone, sleep tight my love . . .

my love

my love
drift . . .

to sleep . . .

Phrases from "Goodnight, My Someone" (lyrics by Alan J. Lerner, copyright 1966); and Om Mani
Padme Hum, a Hindu mantra, meaning, in the words of Ram Dass, "God in unmanifest form is like a
jewel in the middle of a lotus, manifest in my heart." (See Ram Dass, The Only Dance There Is [New
York: Double Day, 1970]).
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that which is beyond all


Om Om Om
Hum Hum Hum
we are
Om Mani Padme Hum
*
In the middle of a bright jeweled lotus
clouds rise
In the bedroom, electric
c(h)ords snake
to
a

higher

amplifier

Goodnight, my love, for goodnight . . .

25

Not / Night
First wedding night.
But first mourning night?

Roland Barthes, Mourning Diary1

not falling asleep not falling into anything not real not
him not you not "person" / not "subject" just not
resting on this newly bought
french mattress au latex naturel raided from
some tree in the Amazonian jungle colonized by terrible terrible "au naturel"
stupid thoughtsson's childhood shrink said when i rejected
at night
had him
this night, my night dark dark
night previously was
reading he was still alive

i was

reading
mattress built for
comfort shell my body ononly
last night, poor Katherine of Aquitaine her prison her nunnery her loss
of inherited lands but it was Richard
Lion de Coeur her son, her heart-son, dead son, "Lyon," my darling, my darling
darkling
heart-boy


1 Roland Barthes, Mourning Diary, Richard Howard, trans. (New York: Hill and Wang, 2012), entry

dated October 26, 1977.


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you, Paul . . . Daniel


Lyon, like the French
town
you were

born

on a mattressme, both
we all
disappear
or changebook
left my hand
on a French beach
me, swimming late rays

days, lounging

longing (watching little boy dive)


to finish
huge book

life story

huge

too huge

American
volume

in English

in this barricaderiches

the placid sea


where could it be?
itthe book
disappeared!
where? to?

(i retraced every single


walkway

swim-way

funny ladies in hats

beach-comber's passage-ways
no no je ne sais pas

27

un gros livre? trop gros?


noooo
just

HURRY

nothing so bigso dearcan

disappear

into the azur . . .

the air . . .

moi . . .

like that
the water fountains

the peaches are sweet

misted tourists

the French are happy

pas vrai any particular


life

lived against

leads deepening

bay, this peace, this light, this beam


days

open

by words
not / night
over

so the book was found behind a steep bench


and i slept and slept well that night

*
night before nights
i weep over context
someone else's fate

to lose a boy

mon coeur

28

assuages

thought: my mistralmis / trial

my own
HEART
doesn't
beat
he was
born
of my
chest
BEAT BEAT
the rhythm of the wail
the Reality of "3D"
newness

for him

baby dry eyes


hears heart

of heart

to his own beating


heart / measure

(beat beat)

found woman of his


heart / dream
measure to measure about to end now, mums
narrative
forms shadow
to grow against solace
in sun, the solstice I perceive like rain

is this why i watched that man in the glasses on the floating mattress

29

in this ocean?
no compromise with Real (fake) song
not one even a Frenchman would throw
book a hefty weight
(i knew it could be found)

and you, in bed, dead weigh, sleeping, deep, usual, not your night
laying herei am a sunny Sunday, this son's day, i am not therei am
my nighttime, on a mattress, nightmare, reading about
an ancient queen's silent ancient
pain, crying

i am not
sleeping

i am not

gaining
anything awake
weeping is not altogether
this terrible terrible night of
deepest abject beautiful doorway opening so wide
in the dream that i feel the breeze yet i can't
even taste a tepid glass
of mother's milk

30