A DANCE AGAIN
for Lee Connor and the Danzantes
We danced we did
we danced the did did dance
the dance we did dance in the did
we did the dance indeed we did
the did & done & dead with dance
the dance done in, we did it in
we did it in the dance we did
the did did dance and done we did
the dance again & did the whole thing in
we did it in we did the dance
and did it in we danced it dead
until it twisted
danced and did it back again
we danced it in and did it in
and brot it back to dance again
we brot it in and danced a sin until it sings
we danced it in and out again
and did we dance? did we dance?
did we dance it in again?
until it sings? until it sung?
until the song sang again
we danced a din and danced a sing
song again we did a dance
and danced we did
we did a dance a dance we did
again we did a dance again
again we didn’t dance again
we stopped and didn’t dance the dance
was done we did it dance and all
the ball was over dance & hall
we did a dance once and for all
we did a did and done dance and did
the dance we did again.
And did we dance again
and did we dance again.
I videoed Larry Goodell reading “And Dance Again” at his and Lenore’s (photographer and painter) home in Placitas, New Mexico, cupped in the Sandia Mountains above Albuquerque. It was the morning after the tribute for Keith Wilson. I was tired, but Larry still had that flaco-man exuberance that he should bottle and sell. I did two videos, the first of a recent poem which I will post at a later date. For that one he put on an exotic yellow Hawaiian shirt. When I asked him to do a performance of “And Dance Again” he changed into the equally exotic red Hawaiian shirt. He had to do the poem a couple of times before he was satisfied with the performance. He was discombobulated at first because he wants to look at his audience when he reads, but the dance poem--with all of its repetition and rhyme--demands full attention to the page.
I asked him to read the dance poem for a number of reasons. I had seen him perform it in the 1980s at the Kimo Theatre in downtown Albuquerque with Lee Connor dancing along gracefully beside him. It was a wonderful collaborative performance, something which took both of them a long time to rehearse, especially considering the entire performance was probably 2 or 3 minutes long at the most. Lee Connor had told Larry that he had to read the poem exactly as rehearsed—the rhythms and beats, the length of the lines, the intonation of the words. Nothing could deviate because the way the dance was choreographed depended precisely on Larry’s reading. If Larry’s reading deviated from the rehearsal even the tiniest bit, then it fractured the dance. But also I asked Larry to let me record the piece because we were staying in the home and studio that Lee Connor and his partner Lorn MacDougal had built for themselves in the 1980s. They were both very well known dancers in Manhattan but had tentatively moved to New Mexico for peace and space. They only lived there a few years. In September 1987 Lee Connor died in that house of AIDS. Poet and painter JB Bryan, who owns the house now, says you can feel Lee Connor’s presence in the house. I agree. And in the downstairs bedroom there’s a broadside of Larry’s poem and a photograph Lee Connor dancing. It’s an image of ecstasy.
The great thing about Larry (I’ve known him since the mid-1960s) is that he’s always been Larry and over all these years he’s evolved into Larry-squared. His poetics is a mixture of wild-eyed 1960s-New Mexico gringo shamanism, improvisational rhyming and punning, political and cultural cynicism and ribald wit. Larry is a cornerstone of what Ron Silliman likes to call “the New Western poetics.” Larry certainly does his own thing and he’s all about “local,” the very present, and he dismisses the academy and writing programs like flu bugs. If he could, he’d invent a vaccination against the disease. He believes in the goodness of the earth, he’s a misanthrope, especially when it comes to the American experience, and as a gardener he’ll sit on his back porch with Lenore and commiserate about the weather and the locusts and the rain or the lack of rain and the rich people moving into his “fervent valley” driving up the goddamn prices of everything from tomatoes to the blessed land. He loves to perform his poetry (that's how he thinks as he writes: as performance) but ironically does not perform that much. Used to be back in the day he’d spend days creating elaborate costumes of wings and masks and dildos and robes. He’s put those aside now for the most part but he’s still a fun and remarkable performer. He and Lenore have become expert gardeners and householders and raisers of chickens. Every year they host a Summer Solstice Party so today they will be celebrating the longest day of the year, welcoming the turning of the year their in the village of Placitas.
Lee Byrd (excuse me but too many “Lee’s” in this blog, so I need to differentiate) and I and our good friends Jane and Steve Sprague went to one of Summer Solstice parties in Placitas back in the 70s. Or maybe it was Larry’s birthday party. I can’t remember. What I do remember is when finally the night came, Larry dressed himself up in a wild shaman costume and he stood outside in the darkness and whirred a bullroarer around his head. He had built some kind of maze of stone and he was dancing. Dancing and chanting and invoking the goddess. We were all drunk probably. Or stoned. Or some kind of combination. At least Steve and I. Like always, the stars in Placitas were extravagant and the night was making animal sound and insect sound and wind sound. Surely the goddess had to listen to Larry. I certainly listened. And when we said goodbye Larry kissed me full on the lips. He was the first man ever to kiss me on the lips. He gave the same favor to Steve and Jane and Lee. It was some kind of initiation I guess. It was okay.
So this is sort of a Happy Summer Solstice card for Lenore and Larry.
The Sandoval Signpost did a nice piece about Larry and Lenore with several of Lenore’s photographs and a photograph of them together in their garden. But a better place to see both of their work is at The Santa Fe Poetry Broadside—for Larry’s poems and for Lenore’s photographs. Don’t miss Lenore’s wonderful portrait of Larry as shadow. Also, you can buy two of Larry’s books--Firecracker Soup at Cinco Puntos Press and Here on Earth from La Alameda Press. Below is a photograph of Larry, replete with rat tails and ears and goggle-eyed glasses and moustache, performing “White Rat Generation” from Firecracker Soup.
Thinking about Placitas and the poetry of what Ron Silliman calls "the New Western poetics," I realize I need to write something about that too. Hopefully soon. One thing to the next. It's fun for me. Stay tuned.