Monday, July 09, 2007

Poker Kiss (English)

Poker Kiss is a poem I like to perform on stage. Moreover, it is one of the rare poems I have written.

Poker Kiss narrates the story of a kiss. Initially two mouths. Then a third joins in. The lips, the mouth. The tension and the desire...

On stage I most often declaim it in duet with a man who echoes my words in his own tongue. Thus I have read it in English-Chinese. Another time in French-Chinese.

Lately I have been bitten by the tango bug. I can no longer manage to think other than in movements. So I said to myself that for Poker Kiss in Montreal (see Monthly Mess at I was going to explore the movements of the words. Thus I asked a tanguero friend to dance the poem around my words, around me. It all turned out more obscure than I had foreseen, the dancer had to think of a music which seemed to him to be that of the words of Poker Kiss. He chose a syncopatic piece from Webern interpreted by Glenn Gould on the piano.

Freedom of exploration is the building ground for a free artistic expression.

On the other hand I know that to dance the words is possible. I did it on a tango with Roger Dauer in Beijing during an improv evening. We improvised an energetic tango mixing in battles and harmony, on words such as "carnivore", "Whisky", and "Beijing".

The evening of the Montreal show, the wretched dancer stands me up. But I will not speak Poker Kiss alone. I invited a person from the audience to volunteer as my guinea-pig while I declaimed the poem. "I promise not to slip my tongue in your mouth. I will however caress you somewhat." I said to lure someone on stage. A young woman volunteered. Having no idea of what would come next, I collected myself and gently took the hand of the damsel, guiding her face to me. We were standing sideways to the crowd. Then I threw my arms around her neck though I was careful to leave my hands hanging a prudish way off her shoulders. I did not want to molest her outright.

Poker Kiss begins as follows: Hello Soft Red Lips One mine, Press Harder... The young woman mimics my words. She fidgets, smiles.

I continue to speak very slowly. Breathing each word. She begins seeing me with eyes from within. Staring at me. She melts standing frozen. Her eyes roll into my mouth. Shiny eyes; she is completely hypnotized. I breathe in the air she breathes out. We are still parked at a prudish distance from one another though I have folded my arms around her neck. With the back of my hands I caress her jaw line then her neck.

Suddenly blowing me out of trance, an intolerable feedback whistles in the microphone. I look at it with hatred. Then, I turn my attention back to the young woman who hasn’t moved a smidge. I realise the situation of public desire, of seducing in front of a crowd, and freeze. I decide to start the poem over in hopes the rest will come back to me. Every time I am on stage I enter a trance if I get out of it I’m totally lost. On stage my actions become automation only my eyes see the crowd from the opening in my navel.

The first word of the poem is "hello". I say hello, the woman in front of me fills with glee and flashes me the wildest smile, that of mischief, that which makes my heart melt. I.e., of complicity, of abdication of her person over my words, activating her pheromones. I have taken on me the responsibility to please her. It dawns on me all that which she is projecting: trust, love, peace, bliss. I can’t stop the flow. She hangs on my words on my breath like it’s the Promised Land. Disappointing her is not an option. So I repeat "hello". She chins up at the same time readying for the blow, at the same time urging me to strike. I feel like I am moving inside of her. Any time soon she will be purring. We are always within a few prudish cm from one another. I jump to the final stanza. She clings to me I embrace her. Comes the final words of the poem. "Give me more.” She holds me tighter. “Come home.“ She doesn’t let go of her iron(wo)man grip. The poem is over.

Not a word from the audience. Not a single handclap. I kiss her forehead once. Several times. I whisper that it is over. Gently I mumble “it’s over”. I caress her hair she still holds on tight her face buried in the nap of my neck. Now it is I who melts. The crowd applauds. The young woman elopes off stage. I remain alone with my astonishment, amazed.

Yes, I feel rejuvenated.

Usually after a show, whether I played Figaro, or made an announcement, I have nasty stomach cramps. Now I am excited. My blood boils in my veins. I want to do it again. I just lured a woman on stage and had her eating my very words. With words. Neither she nor I ever expected what we just went through. Not for a second had I expected to live with such natural the words and their feelings. And with a total stranger! I had planned to manufacture feelings according to the vocabulary.

I learned something. I learned improvising being two, is an exploration done with charm. It goes down very well. And really deep. I learned that by nourishing the person who is in front of me with energy, this person will return nourishment through and with energy. The osmosis of our combined vital energy gets out of hand, it creates a life of its own, we and it become alive, true etc.

I forgot to mention. At the end of the poem, I was surprised to feel my heart beat so loud. I could hear it like I did as a child, pressing my ear to the iron spring mattress, lying flat on my belly listening to my heartbeat pounding my eardrums. And I wondered that my heart could beat so hard whereas hers did not beat at all. Until I realized it was my heart beating in her chest. “It was fun!” She tells me later on.

Since that night I do not want to dance the tango. I hold in horror being pressed against somebody to play footsie. Aggressive compassionless footsie. I have butterflies in my belly I yearn so much for this magic of energy osmosis. Of my life which enters the other while simultaneously the other enters me. I will dance the tango again but not before testing the water for cold slimy dead fish. I want feeling.

Besides the ever-fixated tango connection, what excites me so much is that I have learned from this outcome that I can explore the nature of the various characters I created in my novels/short stories. I shall transfer this “energy projection in order to gain understanding” to the actors and the dancers who in turn will get acquainted with my characters, and create a life for those characters on stage. (Next writing project: live show). I wish in the way of Poker Kiss to seduce, to project the essence of those characters in my actors. And they in turn, will project this creative energy to breath life in these characters. Have I stumbled across a standard method of acting or am in on something new?

The floor is open for comments. My exploration goes on...
Gatineau Canada, July 8, 2007

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