Untitled (Rosemont) | February 17, 2019 | The Rosemont, Brooklyn, NY
Part 1 of 3 | Past
I am a visual artist, drag queen, and graphic designer living and working here in Brooklyn. My work is like a small stream you come upon on a grassy moorland and you peer over the edge and see bits of shimmering stones, a bubblegum wrapper, some broken twigs, and a little fish swishing in and out of it all--gathering and playing and getting stuck in places. I am the fish in this fluid universe of images, objects, and performance with no beginning or end. I invite you to look into this stream that for tonight I shall call Untitled (Rosemont).
I am an island queen. I come from Governors Island and my parents are both from islands. Puerto Rico and the Philippines respectively.
I only loved the scent of flowers in one period of my life until I turned 12. And it wasn’t the general scent of all flowers. It was only one kind. A honeysuckle bush. One large one that was near the ferry station on the island. And I would visit it purposefully on walks by myself. When I left the island, my grandmother had died and I got sick around her funeral and I remember the intense cloying smell of so many bouquets and the body and the parlor and suits. And I left it when I moved. The smell of the honeysuckle and my memory of its scent. I haven’t smelled one since or been near one.
Perhaps it’s my job as a poet writer person to distill this memory. In a clever and subtle and nuanced way. Maybe so you could feel it, and I could again. But idk. Maybe that’s it’s magic. That I didn’t do it with thought. That I can’t remember why I went there other or why I went alone. And I’m sure I was daydreaming. Because i did so often. But about what right then? The smell was pervasive. Sweet? Maybe? Honeylike I don’t think? I think that is a way of human things. We pretend often to assign meaning and memory and purpose. Sometimes we love without reason. Or all the time.
Upon visiting my eldest sister's home recently she showed us her garden and at the end of it there was a honeysuckle bush she tried to plant. And I realized although she didn’t say anything, she was chasing the same memory I had inside. I don’t think we ever talked about that bush on the island. But to her disappointment, the ones she grew had no scent. Just the flower.
The island I grew up on was named originally for growing nuts. It was originally called Pagganuck. Nut island. This is before it was settled and taken over by English governors. And then at once was a us army outpost. And then a coast guard base when I came along. An artist I know hadnt ever heard of a potters field. And she thought that idea was sad to have unmarked graves built on. And I said we are all living on one, but the deepest ones are of first Americans. They’re probably disgusted to even be referred to as first Americans. A first version of a something, a naming they preceded. A backwards history. They are the Lenape, the original settlers of this land we stand upon.
Where is it we come from? A poetic place of childhood flowers and lonely walks or some non-memory of brutal forgotten historical pasts? Could we be some form of both? My interest wavers amongst the two. But I think of this place so fondly. So strongly. My strongest ghost is out there. And I am merely a ghost of that ghost.
This song is dedicated to Governors Island, a place I loved. A place where I gained more than I ever lost.
Part 2 of 3 | Present
There are stones gathering here. Are they a ruin? A new island forming? or fragments from the big bang, if you believe in such things?
some are heavy.
a plymouth one.
What can I grasp in the present that hasn’t already been taken? how can i acknowledge my privilege and status and be better? how can i reconcile being born into a country, built on exploitation, genocide, death, so deeply woven into its foundation?
some people are so much better at the future than I.
I can barely keep up to the day to day.
I don’t know what i can do so far in the future, but I know right now, right here.
I can be present with you, truthfully, emotionally, and openly.
This is my best self, my best offering
This next song is about the day to day of being a queen, bringing your light and reality to the world, and being grateful for all that you have and giving it back.
Part 3 of 3 | Futurepast
for chinese new year, a coworker taught me you eat noodles during the celebration for long life.
and I thought, ok i’ll avoid ramen for a few days. Not that I believe in good fortune or astrology or such rituals, but I still find them fascinating. My grandmother was deeply superstitious, and I love that about her. My eldest sister Cora still places a penny inside of a bag or wallet or change purse as a gift. I still take shoes off of a table if I ever see one, because it signifies death.
even tho i don’t want to live that long.
this future goes back to the past. to brooklyn 2012 when I first started doing drag. And Merrie recently messaged me a photo from a night out from that year, and said back then we didn’t care about likes, about drag race, about followers, and it was so true. not to say that isn’t something for artists now, because i hate hanging onto nostalgia, but there was definitely something more experiential, live about that time for me. Now a presentation of a time had has become more of an object than the time had. Perhaps the future i wanted about being remembered is becoming less important. Maybe it should be forgotten with those that felt it, so they experience it that much more, it becomes the more special.
This song is dedicated to Brooklyn. A home I came into and still haven’t left.