Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Outlaw Poet Rebecca Fransway

by lizard

There is a ton of poetry in my collection I have yet to read. There are quite a few posts that feature poems I have just discovered.

This week’s poem is one of those. I found it in the anthology titled The Outlaw Bible of american poetry, edited by Alan Kaufman. From the link:

In forms ranging from the epistle through the manifesto to the hip-hop lyric, The Outlaw Bible presents over six hundred pages of countercultural writing divided into sections with titles like “Slammers”, “Meat Poets”, and “American Renegades”. The anthology also includes interview material, photographs, articles, and biographical information.

The eclectic mix of poets includes Ai, Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, David Trinidad, Diane diPrima, Joy Harjo, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Sapphire, as well as those not traditionally thought of as poets in the literary sense (Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Janis Joplin), and writers who primarily wrote in alternate genres (Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor).

Anthologies, in my opinion, should be books of discovery; chances to include a multitude of voices (I list a few of my favorite anthologies here).

Rebecca Fransway is the new voice I discovered today, and apparently she made a bit of a stir over a book of poems that is now no longer in print. This from her wikipedia page:

She is the author and editor of a controversial book published in 2000, 12-Step Horror Stories: True Tales of Misery, Betrayal & Abuse in AA, NA, and 12-Step Treatment. This book was banned in Davis bookstores and some U.S. bookstores because of complaints from treatment centers and members of local twelve-step groups. It is out of print, but is available for free online.

Needless to say, I’ve already placed the order.

And now, the poem.

*

SUZANNE GOES DOWN

My name is Suzanne.
I am learning military words.
The father of my abortion was in Special Forces.
He killed people in hot jungles.
My brain is a hot jungle.
We deal in amphetamines and weapons.
We have a machine gun in our trailer.
It leans against the same couch
with me and someone else’s year-old baby.
I am drunk.
I play patty-cake with the red-haired baby
while the father of my abortion
bargains in Spanish with devils.
His wife jumps from the kitchen
and nerves about the room saying “honey”
pretending I’m a better friend to her than he.
What a son of a bitch he is.
My love is a disease.
I am learning military words.
Reconnaissance means rounding up your man
who’s been captured by the cops.
Leave McDonald’s wrappers by the tunnel
a mile from Folsom Prison.
Siege means you’ve been up five days on crank,
barricaded in your trailer. Enemies
crawl the roof and rattle the vents.
My name is Suzanne, I think.
I am a military cunt.
Look at my chest—no slacking here, sirs.
I carry my pride in a lump behind me
to be saluted while I die of drunkeness.
It’s Apocalypse Now, folks.
My brain gives orders from its hot jungle.
My body is on automatic.
It marches down the lunatic lines
from trailer to liquor department at Safeway.
See the robotic arm reach out for tequila.
See the bottle drop into the handbag.
Here is my body at the A.A. meeting.
There there dear it’ll be okay one day atta time
and it’s NOT OKAY
My body is on automatic.
My brain gives orders from a thick hot jungle.
I am dying a military death.
I am dying with military dishonors,
in ripped underpants.
Someone is going to see my underpants.

—Rebecca Fransway


  1. fuckin’A, you’ve sent me back to bible on that one!

  1. 1 152 Poetry Posts to Celebrate April, National Poetry Month | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Outlaw Poet Rebecca Fransway […]




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