Dead Beats : A Series by Andrea Becker and Andrew Byrds

Spring

Dear A,

Escaped winter again, so I went to Hua Hin, where young women sat solemn
in the storefronts with rotten old American men—someone told me, “You
can’t eat love.” At sunrise, fishermen laid their fish on ice, women in flowered dresses
sat streetside under tattered blue and yellow awnings, shelling garlic and mollusks
for the day. Reddened old expatriates flocked to the beach, pouring out of
swimming clothes, skin falling over their dense silver bones like old drapes,
and for two days I laid among them in the sun, saying “Ko pun kah, ko pun kah.”


Departing, I saw a shantytown of corrugated steel, bent and glittering
beneath the new skeleton of a superhighway, exiting Bangkok to the west.
Between long rows of rust-flecked shacks, Thais bathed in tall cement pools –
they emerged, dancing, reincarnate clean, bare and lustrous in the copper light,
shaking the dew from their day-browned skins—I could almost feel the mist
from the train but in half a second they were gone, down the track ten meters
more, my window opened on a lone man riding the ridge of the skeleton’s back,
showering the darkness with steel-red sparks.

 
I thought of cornflower on the prairie as the last light melted below
the horizon and the women in the opposite seat dozed across each other’s loins,
communal baths and livable shacks, forlorn men welding infrastructure
onto their dreams, and asked myself, “How did I get here, really
what do I need?”

Missing,
A

/A

It’s one of those copper-flavored mornings and I slept 

On a bed rat-nested by old towels and torn blankets with 

The purls draped over from the sides fishing dust/tumefied food scraps. 

An overcast jeweled by slivers of travel, the neighbor’s birch limbs 

Stripped raw of their paper-skin—I remember I used to call them krispie

Trees as a child, their frames warmed in summer smelled exactly 

Like Rice Krispies, but no one else ever even gave it a chance. 

Anyway it’s seven thirty here trying my damndest to incite a vagrant

Gospel or some crude riddle furled out through sockets unravaged, but 

For Christ’s sake it’s too early for poetry and rosemary-tonic Epiphany. 

Allow me to lie in the piles of old clothes near the ventilation that accentuates 

The sugared-vinegar miasma of sweat from the cotton and notching my feet

Into the woodwork folding tongue over teeth a corkscrew of the flesh and 

Forgetting about the outside for a while, and letting go of everything. 

You always tell me how admirable it is to be this honest, 

And you ask how I can see the truth in those stoic little ways and all I can say

Is that there is no truth to find, no truth to extol, no truth to figure out. 

I don’t find the truth because it was never there, I find the beauty as best 

As I can and play god for some time if the mess the mess that comes out looks

Beyond repair—in this way no matter how bloodied and raped I become, I 

Can always mend and treat the wounds whereas others simply become the wounds.

After all, we are just bodies, that’s the only promise we were given.

/a

dear darling A,

it’s summer now.

where are you? are you happy? I worry

about your joy, you know, and just in case

you don’t know – here I am, here 

i am again and again

doing what i’ve done again,

but somehow i still don’t learn

to expect the curb where 

the mall begins.

my friends are chemists and working writers

and foreigners and vegans 

and fucking goddesses— 

i’m the waif missing

the paint-peeled porch,

your tawny locks, the wit behind your eyes,

the pith in your mouth when you tell

me about the books you’re reading.

here, in the university, pods, their stupas

laugh on the soft green lawn. 

i received a secret teaching in a pine-hewn hut

atop a berry strewn mount 

where the red-robed shaggy guru didn’t 

rap my head when he saw i was afraid. 

the pain is a blessing, he said,

and waved me off, laughing.

i opened secrets in myself, and they were strange ones:

like the pomegranate does not shed its petals 

in the heat, the flower itself is the fruit.

yes, here i am, if you come searching

worry not – i will seem the same, but know

something here was lost or gained.

loving you still, A

Process Note:

These three exchanges are from a manuscript that my longtime friend Andrew and I wrote together in 2017. We hadn’t seen each other in some time and decided to engage in poetic correspondence until we could get together again. This experimental exchange began in a Messenger conversation when I returned to Naropa to finish my degree after a three year adventure/hiatus: we wanted to satirize our own correspondence in the Beat lineage, so we gave each other nicknames (both “A”) and wrote these “letters” for the better part of a year. They ultimately culminated in two beautiful visits and a lot of really bad jokes about Boulder’s poetic history. Incidentally, only one reference to an obscure string of jokes appears in this selection.





Andrea Becker is a poet, photographer and full-time snack-eater living in Boulder, CO.

Andrew Byrds lives in Portland, OR and is a writer, actor, and the interviews editor for Entropy.