Dennis Cooper, in collaboration with the New Museum and SPANK Magazine, has selected three young queer zine writers (Mark Edmund Doten, Robert Smith, and Max Steele) to join him Thursday October 14th for an evening of performative readings and provocations
Robert Smith has been published in Spank, Ganymede, Mary Literary and Evergreen Review. He is the host of the monthly reading series Brother, My Lover in New York City.
photo by Nodeth Vang
i wake up from a dream. u were in it and dancing really badly on stage. i was taking pictures of you. it was a huge camera with a bunch of bulbs and attachments that i didn’t know how to operate. they were almost growing out of my head like antenaas and the pictures were polaroids. they were shooting out in front of me and sliding across the floor. i am winona ryder in beetle juice taking pictures of ghosts, except im taking pictures of you. i pick one of them up and it’s still white like it hasn’t developed. i shake it around and look at it again. it’s still white but i realize it’s a close up of ure pale skin filling the frame. i wake up hating your body…
i wake up and have to go to the hospital.
i take off my shoes. empty my pockets. go thru a metal detector. they give me a new pair of socks and i sign a piece of paper that gives them permission to keep me in lock down if they want. i have a seat next to the other patients. there are two older patients in there already. they are both black and bickering with each other. an overweight woman with unpicked hair and a man with wild eyes and no teeth.
“u do NOT fuck with me motherfucker! the last person who fucked with me left in a body bag. i’m NOT tryin’ to git up in the penitentiary again. I done did 8 yrs already!” says the woman.
the man with no teeth gets up and walks back and forth like he needs to calm down or somethin’s gonna happen. like if this woman don’t quit bitchin’ he’s gonna do something he regrets.
the security guard tells them to shut up.
a girl my age comes in the door. they ask her to take off her jewelry and she loses it. she says it’s not gonna go down like that.
she says this is not her status. She says she just came here cos she needs to refill her medicine. she ain’t been to sleep in three days and this is buggin’ her out.
the older couple’s getting worked up; trying to console her, but the girl is just getting more hysterical. i motion for her to come sit next to me. as if in a trance she does. she’s a pretty girl.
“i got a baby, man”, she tells me. “at home, and i gotta get outta here…”
“it’s ok. im here to get refills too. just take off your gold. or they’re gonna keep you.”
she bows her head and slips off her chain…
“this aint my status…” she says.
i’m starting to get a little nervous so i look in the two way mirror at my reflection and straighten the part in my hair. i pull a dead piece of skin off my lip. i sit up straight, uncross my legs, uncurl my toes.
when the doctor comes to get me i follow her into a room down the hall and into her office. When she sits behind her desk she seems to be having a hard time organizing whatever paper work she has on me.
then finally: “wanna tell me why ure here?”
“I’m tryin’ to make sure i’m able to get my medicine without walking thru metal detectors”, I tell her
“no. u wanna tell me why u were referred here by the ER?”
she doesn’t even look at me. she’s flipping thru papers.
i point to them.
“i mean, what do my records say?”
she looks up at me without lifting her head.
“so far? nothing.”