Friday, December 31, 2010

More New Year's Poems

This poem is an excerpt from my chapbook, Belinda and Her Friends. The book is a series of linked poems about characters from the Lower East Side and life in the late 70's-early 80's. Belinda is the central character.

We met when we lived across the street from one another on East 10th. Her building was an abandoned city-owned structure with a self-appointed Polish super, Walter, who kept the boiler running (usually) and figured out ways to steal gas and electricity. The legendary musician, C-Sharp lived in the building also with his wife, China. I lived on the sixth floor of a walk-up directly across the way; I had previously lived on the 5th floor of the ajoining building, but a musician named Tommy nodded out after he came from the methadone program and burned the front part of the building out. People kept living in the rear, but when I heard about the vacant apartment I decided to move, and did so by throwing all of my belongings over the roof. What we couldn't carry up the stairs and over the roof just stayed there.

Belinda and Her Friends won the Erbacce Press Poetry Prize for best chapbook of 2008. Writing it, pieces of dialogue heard 30 years ago came back to me and are included, verbatim. This was a lower east side New Year's Eve day. One of the pictures is the last place Belinda had of her own. But that's another story.


On New Years Eve day
Cousin Willie bought a big bottle of rum,
said he'd sell shots in the house
to all the people who came by,
make a buck so they'd have a little
something something
start the new years right

On New Year’s Eve day
Belinda found a red dress
in the back of her closet
that almost matched her red
suede boots that sort of matched
a red vinyl bag someone gave her
she found a bright red lipstick,
stopped by to get Judy who wasn't there
Cousin Willie was alone
drinking rum from a big bottle
they killed half of it and she left

On New Years Eve day
it was fifty two degrees,
the programs were closed
abuelas in skirts and thick socks
pushed small children along
tugging carts full
of laundry and pork roasts
the guys on park benches
started drinking at noon
some of them looked
like they were going out dancing
they tilted the bottles
for the brothers upstate
called the girls Betty Boop,
went home to eat

On New Years Eve day
Cousin Willie finished the rum
passed out on the bed
Judy came home pissed off,
drank the next day's methadone
both hers and cousin Willie’s,
Belinda staggered around
in her bright red glory
imagining herself draped across
a grand piano like in some movie
she'd have stockings without rips
all her reds would match
imma hook it up this year she thought
this is gonna be my year

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Another New Year

Everyone on the lower east side used to think that Lauren and I were sisters. It was less of a physical resemblance than a similarity in attitude. Before we met, people were constantly coming up to me thinking I was her and vice versa - the first time we encountered one another we were dressed identically in Kristina Gorby velvet - mine was blue, hers was red. We both had wild black hair and were of similar height and wore wire rimmed glasses. She went to California for a while and I hitchhiked around the east coast. One day, clad in my hitching gear - striped overalls and a 10 inch knife in a leather sheath on my hip - someone showed me a photo of her taken in Berkeley in which she wore - striped overalls and a knife on her hip. Please forgive the mention of the striped overalls, I have no idea what we were thinking.

Lauren came back to NYC, winding up on the lower east side, and we wandered the streets in our finery - spaghetti strap slip nightgowns we bought in Mays Department Store on 14th street, back when Union Square was about placydels and tuinals; anthere was also a very active stroll on 3rd Avenue. The model on the cover of my book, knuckle tattoos, wears a similar nightgown, one of mine, bought more recently; I wish they were as cheap and easy to find as they were back then.

This poem is about our travels through the neighborhood on a New Year's Eve sometime in the late 70's. It's not the best poem I ever wrote, but every word is true.

It was another New Year.
Oh no, not this one and not
the year before -
no, not any of those.

I lived in a different body,
for I am blessed like an alley cat,
sides forever swollen with newness

Ice covered tenement steps,
skirts flared beneath
tiny fake leather jackets
After midnight we wandered,
welcome and uninvited

We were young
Doors swung open
for a smile

At two AM
we found a music hall
dark, half empty
Tina Turner sang Proud Mary
There were no Ikettes

We drank dark rum
smoke in our hair
danced our way
into bars and clubs
through happy streets

It was a new year
before the darkness

Everything was free.

© puma perl, 12/30/08

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Last New Year's Day, I made a pact with Big Mike to perform my piece, New Year Resolutions, during my 3 minute slot at the Bowery Poetry Club Poetry Marathon, 1/1/11. Invitations to the marathon were arrogantly assumed, and staying alive another year was implicit to the agreement. Suicide, accidental death, or extreme hopelessness were all out of the question, lest the pact be broken. Underlying depression, anger, and cynicism, naturally, continued.

We are still kicking, and are invited to perform individually and to co-host the 10 o'clock hour. Big Mike has hosted at many of the marathons. This is my first time and I'm not even sure what the point of throwing me in was, since Big Mike does a great job by himself, but the invitation was issued and he was gracious about sharing the spotlight with me.

I don't want to spoil the piece, so suffice to say it involves surrealism, absurdity and scissors. Hopefully, photographs and a video will be posted at a later date.

And now, a New Year's Eve poem - I will post one daily till 2011.

New Year’s Eve Pantoum
(in memory of Don Cherry)
He always tapped a rhythm on the door
Everything he did was made of music
Folks often ran into him at midnight
He liked to play his pocket trumpet on the street

Everything he did was made of music
He stood in front of Charlie Parker’s house till dawn
He liked to play his pocket trumpet on the street
It was a New Year’s Eve that she first stopped to listen

He stood in front of Charlie Parker’s house till dawn
The weatherman had said that it might snow
It was a New Years Eve that she first stopped to listen
She wore suede boots as if she didn’t care

The weatherman had said that it might snow
He pulled his hat down against the wind
She wore suede boots as if she didn’t care
He played a song he said he wrote for her

He pulled his hat down against the wind
She wrapped her scarf around his neck
He played a song he said he wrote for her
She listened for a while, then she danced

She wrapped her scarf around his neck
He said he’d be back home in just a bit
She listened for a while then she danced
He always tapped a rhythm on the door

© puma perl, 12/31/08

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

After the Blizzard

I used to get up early and take pictures of the sunrise on a regular basis. This morning, at 6:45, I stumbled to the window and shot these. I wrote this poem last October at the same time of morning.

Thursday, 6:29:45

One jogger shuffles by
his legs grow stronger every morning
He will do something useful today,
while my hours explode with words

I stare down at the water, emptiness
summoned insomnia, they hid pebbles
in my bed, sleep has abandoned me again

So I write a thousand poems
So I snap a hundred pictures

Lean further out the window each morning,
one tit falls out of my tiger print nightgown,
as I point and shoot, point and shoot
at Long Island City, at Jimmy’s house,
at the Williamsburg Bridge, at the East River

Every second is new light;
I am the delegated witness
to days that begin despite themselves

Last night I met a guy I probably knew,
reminisced about dope fiends, thieves and poets,
shooting galleries, toy shotguns, unmarked cabs,
he kissed me good-bye, said if you ever need me
Puma, I’m there,I don’t remember what that means
but I remember the mornings on Third Street
when the birds carried slingshots and the sun
never rose on a waking hour, nobody slept,
we just nodded out on a good day, afraid
to go to sleep because we knew we’d wake up sick

I move the table back against the wall.
A light flicks off across the way, the man
who sees my tit each morning goes to work;
he will also do something useful as I load
another hundred photos into the computer,
searching for the one that captured the smell
of mustard seeds and hope, heat, sky, today
but perfection eludes me once again

So I write more poems
So I’ll take more pictures
Point and shoot, point and shoot
at rivers, sunrise, bridges, buildings
until I sweep the pebbles from the bed
and leave the witnessing to gods
and other babbling fools

© puma perl, 10/22/09

Monday, December 27, 2010


Huns stride across the screen,
trampling dreams and hobbits.
I have no interest in the symbolism
of geeks and Lords; in the cosmic
struggle, geeks rule corner boys,
blood and flesh lost in darkness.

The blizzard rages. I wonder if I left
my car lights on. I become obsessed
with my alternator. As the trilogy
continues, I am frozen by fear
of dead black Maximas, desperately
I distract myself with fantasies
of my favorite mental disorder,
(folie a deux, a madness built for two),
though clearly he and I have created
boundaries delineating individual
bouts with insanity rather than shared
delusions. I attempt to settle the fine points
of our relationship during a commercial
break, but fall asleep on his shoulder,
as he drinks soda and discourses
on sixth century history with his right
brain, I am dreaming in blinding
white light, oblivious to classical
antiquity and Nubian Kingdoms –
rolling credits wake me, brainstorms
rush through my veins, the clarity
of hallucinations comfort me,
and in the midst of the worst
December blizzard in memory
all is suddenly,

© puma perl, 12/27/10

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Meaning of True Grit

Jew Christmas - coffee, bagels, lox, antibiotics, and True Grit. The remake is excellent, and adheres more closely, I am told, to the book. Hailee Steinfeld, who played the young girl was amazing, and, although it's hard to beat John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn, Jeff Bridges did well, and I'm not just saying that because I have a soft spot for him, and also, a great deal of lust.

But this is not a movie review. I don't do those. I am pondering on the meaning of grit. Lately, I am told repeatedly how "brave" and "courageous" my writing and performances are. After the December performance at the Bowery Sex Worker Literati series, a young lady gushed about my "awesomeness and courage" and asked several times, "Can I touch you?" (She didn't say where, but I was vaguely agreeably anyway.) Women more gorgeous than I ever was or will be tell me they want to be like me, or even BE me. Why???????

Courage? Like in True Grit? Did I face down outlaw gangs, get bitten by snakes, carry 14 year old snakebitten girls through snowy mountains, shoot my horse when it fell from exhaustion and broke its leg?

Cynically, I sometimes hear "brave" as a euphemism for "fat" and "old," taking into account, of course, that size 6 is considered Medium, and size 10 Large, and that women are expected to retreat into invisibility when the gray hair they hide is no longer premature.

Should I walk through the Canyon of Heroes naked?

What is a hero? Not an overpaid athlete, or an insurance agent on his way to work. Blessed by talent, cursed by fate, but heroes for being who and where they are and were? No more than I am "brave" for having lived a fucked up life and for using in my work without anonymity, or for inhabiting the body I possess, and using IT without anonymity, as I see fit.

Nudity and performance - I've appeared onstage naked and therefore have no fear of appearing onstage fully dressed. Ever. Conquering one fear has worked on others. I have a commitment to each performance - to take risks, I must be fully committed and therefore fully in those moments, no matter what. I was watching some videos at someone's place last night, including a Best of John Belushi, and I realized that's what I had admired most about him - his total commitment while performing, as well as the sweetness that lied somewhere in his face. His life may have been fucked, but watching him perform, you would never know that, and you could tell that he probably got up black and blue from some of those falls (like in the Joe Cocker piece) but while he was in those moments he probably never felt a thing.

Does that make him courageous? No more than it makes me courageous. True grit is in the ability and motiviation to stick it out, no matter what. Probably, Belushi did NOT have that grit,although he may have developed it down the line. I can name few that do have it. Certainly not myself.

Puma Perl and Big Mike: Dr. Zhivago, Lara, and the Dead Poets

Friday, December 24, 2010


The Bowery Poetry Club has been conducting it's underground alternative to the St. Mark's Poetry Project New Year's Day Marathon for 16 years - this will be the 17th This years theme is Dark Matters.

Two years ago, I attended and couldn't get on the open mic. Last year, I was, for the first time, asked to perform - we each get three minutes, no negotiations for extra time. Sirens seriously go off, so you have to make your three minutes count. I did a piece called The Perfect Man, which was later included in the current Uphook Press anthology, Hellstrung and Crooked. The video of that hour can be seen here:

The Perfect Man
I have found the perfect man.

He lives 3,000 miles away.
He’s a bipolar sex addict who swears speed relieves his ADD.
His girlfriend wears a strap-on, he has two failing businesses, a custody battle, and he writes a hell of a lot better than me.

He’s the perfect man.

Last time he visited, he drove like an old man, made rights on reds, got lost every time I left him alone.

I’d rescue him, lead him to his hotel; he’d treat me like a hooker that he doesn’t have to pay.


Degradation, dissolution, dissipation, all wrapped up into one large
6’5, out of shape package; I suspect a touch of Asperger’s, too.

He is the perfect man.

He only gets my sense of humor when we’re online, at least I think he does, because he writes lol and I answer with hahaha, I refuse to write lol, or to call him by any of his four first names.

My perfect man is a bigger slut than I am.

We toss fuck stories at each other like shuttlecocks.
The dwarf on the greyhound bus, a jazz trio, a random Allman Brother – ok those are mine – his usually involve first cousins, teachers, sisters and their aunts –his four drag queens trump my three Jacks.

He likes to have phone sex but he never says anything interesting.
Once, I forgot to move my car and got a parking ticket because it took so long to cum.
hey, he said, don’t blame me.

He’s my perfect man.

We fight about nothing but syntax and lyrics.
We only watch porn and we bring our own toys.
We hate each other more than we hate ourselves and less than we hate everybody else.

He’s perfect.

He knows the difference between lay and lie, but I beat him at spelling. I’m always glad to see him and never miss him when he’s gone. Once we had a feeling; it only lasted a minute and I got fourteen poems out of it.

He’s the perfect man for me.
He’s perfect.

This year, I was asked to perform in the 9-10 slot, and to co-host, with Big Mike, the 10-11 hour. So that's a lot of change in a short period of time.

I get frustrated with myself over the time I have wasted, but try to channel it into making every performance count.

The New Year's Day event will stream live from the Bowery, consult homepage for more info

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Embrace This! a comment on Fear and Fearlessness

We were all troopers Wednesday night. I had visited my dentist earlier that day only to be informed that the pain in my face was caused by a "massive, huge infection" that required surgery, and had started on an aggressive antiobiotic, with the usual unpleasant side effects; Big Mike was battling bronchitis, tonsilitis and had just audtioned for the Frigid Festival with Faux Maux, who had endured being witness to a direct rip-off of her piece, Nude Artist Model; not only had it been plagarized by a competing duo, but it was performed in derisive and demeaning. Despite this assault, Maux way had bravely soldiered on and performed her own piece, Adam and Eve, with Big Mike. Naturally, they were the only ones whose audition involved strategically placed snakes and fig leaves. They didn't make the cut, but at least the theives didn't either.

So we're a bit battered at RevJen's anti-slam, which started later than the usual 10:30; luckily, Big Mike got a number 3 pick so we premiered a piece that I had written, Embrace This! (Maux was performing solo later on.) I was a little trepidatious because we had run through it only once, and I had removed and then re-inserted the music - Hole's Violet. The piece is based on a conversation between myself and Big Mike shortly after my book launch party for knuckle tattoos last March. We were watching the dvd and I didn't mind my performance, although the sound was bad for the last half, but I became overly critical, to put it mildly, of my appearance in the cinema verite shots:

PUMA: Oh my God! Look at me in that video! I look one hundred years old! I’m like an old lady in punk rock clothes!

BIG MIKE: Well, not all of us can be Elle McPherson.

PUMA: What??? I’m literally ready to curl up and die and that’s your response? “Well, you’re no Elle McPherson?”

BIG MIKE: I didn’t say Well, you’re no Elle McPherson.I said Not all of us can BE Elle McPherson. Elle McPherson is Elle McPherson. You’re you. Look how happy you look in that shot. Can’t you focus on that?

This dialogue is pretty much verbatim. Big Mike did not go the obvious route, reassuring me that I'm still beautiful, etc etc - no, the fuck went right to the heart of it - ACCEPT IT, no, do more than accept it, EMBRACE IT!

The heart of the piece is my admission that I do NOT like getting older, I have limited acceptance, but I am doing it anyway because the only other option is to quit - We rant on about the meaninglessness and pointlessness of the piece, as he begins to cut my clothes off. He got a bit overzealous, ripping off my garter belt, thong, and destroying one of my stockings. I wound up nearly naked except for Harley boots by the time he flipped the music on, so what could I do except scream "go on take everything, take everything I want you to? while he danced around finishing up the job.

Some time ago I wrote this piece called "Fear and Fearlessness" which was published on Lara and Roxi's blog, Bad Girls, Worse Hair

It feels relevant to post right here:

Fear and Fearlessness

I got an email from a "friend" – she is such a good friend that she has not come to one event of mine, including my book launch party, even though she lives in the city. But, suddenly, she identified herself as my caring, worried BFF, and wrote – in part –

I'm worried about you. What is going on with the nude pics??? I truly don't understand them, Puma. I feel (and it is not my opinion only, many others have mentioned it) that you are sabotaging yourself as a legitimate, important poet by putting yourself out there with Big Mike like you do. I cringe when I see some of those photos. You are a good poet, why do you feel you have to do that? I just don't get it.

Don't you love it when people invoke the "many others" plea – it's not just me, EVERYBODY is talking about you! Of course, when I confronted her on the many others thing, she backed down and admitted that it was "just a few." She also retreated from her statement about my "nude" pics – because there are none. I might also add that she has not seen one performance that I have done with Big Mike.

I played Cher for laughs, dragons drawn on my ass in line with the cellulite, thong apparently shifted to reveal my Brazilian waxed pussy – EASIER than dressing in layers to look old and frumpy!

Here's the thing – my body is just a body. If it provokes a discussion, if I break a boundary, if I make you "CRINGE" – good, at least I'm doing something. If I were mean, I would ask the lady poet who wrote to me what the fuck she had done lately but I already know the answer – NOTHING!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Puma Perl and Mad Anthony at Lix Kix 2nd Anniversary Celebration, 2nd ...

RevJen's Anti-Slam tonight

Assuming I survive this morning's dental appointment, I will be previewing a new piece tonight at RevJen's anti-slam at the Bowery, 10PM, also assuming I get a good pick. At the snti-slam, instead of signing up as you arrive, you write your name on a slip of paper and throw it in a jar; RevJen that pulls names out and you sign up. I've always gotten good picks and since I will be performing with Big Mike, my chances are doubled.
This piece is called Embrace It! and is about acceptance; it also involves, scissors, Courtney Love, Elle McPherson, and DaDa-esque nudity. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Videos - Sex Worker Literati and More

In the last year I have become more focused on performance art and have worked regularly with Big Mike, Faux Maux, and Amy Uzi, among other people. Big Mike is my most consistent performance partner and we also created a production company, DDAY Productions, and produce a monthly event at the Yippie Museum Cafe. It's always 4 female features, including myself and Faux Maux, and is hosted by Big Mike, and is a combination of poetry, performance, dance, and more, with NO censorship. It is free and the next event is Monday, 1/17/11, 6:30-8:30, 9 Bleecker Street.

This past Sunday, Big Mike, Amy Uzi, and I did a poetry/dance performance at the Sex Worker Literati Holiday Party at the Bowery Poetry Club, with Rick Eckerley on sax (actually, Rick broke his hand so he looked the part of the sax player while Harlem Nocturne and Rhapsody in Blue played). Lap dances and nudity included! I will post the video when it's available.

Big Mike and I were featured in the same venue, hosted by Zoe Hansen and David Henry Sterry, and we performed my piece Sittin on a Gold Mine, which David Henry Sterry entitled:
Click link to watch the video:

I'm Back

I have not posted here for ages and I have no idea how to attract attention to it, but I guess I will give it a shot.