“I tried to change
Closed my mouth more
Tried to be soft, prettier
Fasted for 60 days
Abstained from mirrors
Abstained from sex
Slowly did not speak another word
And that time my hair grew past my ankles
I slept on a mat on the floor
I swallowed a sword
Into the basement
Confessed my sins
And was baptized in a river
Got on my knees and said, “Amen”
And said, “I mean”
I whipped my own back
And asked for dominion at your feet
I threw myself into a volcano
I drank the blood and drank the wine
I sat alone in begged and bent at the waist for God
I crossed myself and thought
I saw the devil
I grew thickened skin on my feet
I bathed in bleach
And plugged my menses with the pages from the holy book
But still inside me coiled deep was the need to know
Are you cheating on me?”
–Denial, Lemonade (Beyoncé)
Photography by Teegee Villanueva.
Look at my closet
see the trinkets?
my rings, the bling
and my appetite
for men who trawl
the intersections at 4
or when the moon
wets the skin
between my thighs
Look at my husband
emulated by the soldier
worshipped by the throng
by the God-man
who weeps for his soul
And look at me
Plain Jane with an apron
and a miscarriage
on the way
–words by Teegee Villanueva
- I wake up at dawn. At three or four in the morning. I put on a pair of red socks (for good luck) and a knitted wool cap..
- I draw my tarot cards, and divine the day’s events–for fun.
- And then I write poetry. And when I’m not writing rhymes and verses (that make very little money…haha artist), I write plays or screenplays. The length of my scripts vary, but they’re usually short, one-act affairs that are impossibly difficult to stage.
- I write everything down in paper FIRST, in longhand, on a cheap, upcycled notebook. And then I transcribe the text on my computer, which is a testy task given how awful my handwriting is.
- I write for four/six hours a day everyday and I usually end at around 8 in the morning, tired and frustrated but somehow pleased at the day’s output.
Is writing fun? No it’s torture. Jk. It’s alright when your muse is in a cooperative mood I guess. I trawl the city and take photographs the rest of the day and I read whenever I can (a requirement if you want to write). And that’s my life basically.
The writer is alone
in his cabin in the woods
in the kitchen:
there are grapefruits in the basin
bread on the basket
milk in the icebox
a pen on the table
paper on the floor
and a gun in the drawer.
–Words and photography by Teegee Villanueva
the cross lingers
high above the confessional
it looms, leering
And beneath it, the cavity
where the voice of the consecrated profligate speaks
with an urgency not immediately divine;
the man speaks with the urgency of a shrew
what is your name, priest?
what are your sins
have you confessed them to the Lord
professed servility to the word?
Did you consume a rosary
plug your arteries, with pages from the Holy Book
apologized to the angels
offered a sacrifice, crucified a child
You are made of the same flesh
infested by the same wiles, marked by the same sins
who are you to judge?
–Poetry and photography by Teegee Villanueva
I am compiling poems for a book I plan to self-publish on April. A collection of only my best bits, noxious, toxic verses drawn from the mind of a chronic depressive. Wow, how compelling.
Saint Jude, the title, will not be a pleasant experience. It will be honest, raw, threadbare (on purpose, in the absence of a grant or a generous patron) and it will come in black and laden with expletives.
I am having difficulty selecting compositions however. I revisited several of my earlier work and found them all lacking in some capacity–forced exercises in craft the lot of them, I doubt if any of them effectively conveyed an emotion or an episode at all. I wrote poems with no subjects, no discernible personae, verses that were disconnected, that were disjointed, poems that generally made no sense. And they were all about love, what is this love, this foolish thing!
So I am resigned to write an entirely new collection; baked fresh, chapters upon chapters of verses with subjects drawn rom memory, from events in the past and the present, from circumstances new and old, from quarrels resolved and questions left unanswered, and I will not be censored, or held back by norms. I will write what I think and express what I feel. Poetry, the art of letters is not something I take lightly.
Photography by Teegee Villanueva
in between my lips
in hers, the hollow afterglow
a whimper, a song, a sigh of great relief
Billy Idol plays on the radio
Elizabeth lays in bed
her head heavy, bowed down
her body entangled over mine
she emerges from her second baptism,
distraught and yearning for a river
She rises swiftly from the precipice
and dons her favorite yellow dress,
She thanks me for my kindness
I thank her for her service
I call my wife on the telephone
I tell her everything’s alright.
–Poetry by Teegee Villanueva, photography by Teegee Villanueva
Unravel: as they come
A funeral march
A coffin, a hammer
A nail and a kiss
A sip from a poisoned chalice
Do I put myself through this?
I am trapped and isolated
Four white walls enclose me,
Vibrating with an ever quickening pulse;
The floors catch my menses
And the tear that refuses to fall
I am tired, black death
I am a specter without a name
Floating amongst the living:
Listless among the dead
Painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, words by Teegee Villanueva
I stare at my reflection
in the mirror that you gave me
I cannot forget when you were last inside me
your love was a curse .
And I cannot forget the first night
we spent together–you and me, in the room
in the space we called our home
when you said goodnight
when I gave good head and meant it–
but your youth always alarmed me.
You remind me of my father, a liar
lies all lies, until the angels took his life
his tongue, an instrument
to please a missus who wasn’t his wife;
like my father, you broke my heart
and like my father, I forgave you
but like my mother, I will always remember
the lie you said in September.
Let me linger for a moment
Let me remember
Let me find wisdom in the waves
Let me drown in it.
I can hear the water curling at the seams
pockets, pockets, full of stones
a walk, a hop, a body it seems
floating lifeless in the water
and lifeless it drifts to shore
Words and photography by Teegee Villanueva