RADIO HYPNOSIS in the US of A x bart plantenga


bart plantenga

yr raging glory from
a basement of crates

cream puffs combing the
streets for their cream

the speeding Hawaiian
in a boring belt of dogs

lets argue the virtues
of our 3 fave saints

& see the geek urn go
& see the bleak burn slow

piled up plates swivel hips
caved in faces & a moon that dips

gimme yr tan lines
yr football teams washed ashore

the giggling hordes dragging
their feet, horsepower & g-strings

what was it that choked the river
& dented the 127th revival tent

& those who strafe so righteously
fumble for tradition & for tyrants in cement

I wrote “Radio Hypnosis” in 1982. Propelled by the kinetic-dynamic love between myself & artist-stripper-provocateur, Valerie H. [founder of the Girls Gang, a pre-Guerilla Girls art-activist group], it morphed into a spoken word sculpture. It appeared in a group show on the Lower Eastside, “Group Sculptures” at the Sculpture Center, 167 E. 69th St., NYC & “Young NY Artists” at the Mill Gallery in Malone

Each couplet consisted of a slide that slid into a glass box that usually holds microscope lab specimen slides. 

The objective: visitors/participants/readers could pull individual slides out & read it in order or randomly aloud to a small group & place it back in the glass box O. Inevitably the poem’s order would ske& that was absolutely OK – & expected, leading to desired permutations over time. It appeared in several fledgling BOs poetry zines & an experimental-punk poetry compilation cassette – & eventually in our chapbook Before It Gets Lost *[ValBar, 1985).

I read it aloud as a scurrilous parody of a pompous, fatuous Preamble-to-the-Constitution type declamation at various joyously chaotic readings in NYC at places like ABC No Rio, where I read it next to a bare-bulb-illuminated bucket that caught leaking drop-drop-drops of rainwater, lending the evening an organic beat.

Recently, reading it to Paloma, I noticed it still sounded vital, funny, disdainful & … of the moment seeing as Trump Times are just a logical extrapolation of Reagan Times – to my ears anyway.

  • bart plantenga

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