Shake the Shaker Till We All Lie Down

A three-voice performance poem by Michael Dylan Welch, Lorri Lambert-Smith, and Jane Silberstein, read by three poets lying down with feet to the audience (see more photos below). Lines in the same rows below are recited simultaneously. Written and performed 2 November 2008 at LitFuse in Tieton, Washington for Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), in response to a workshop exercise led by Mimi Allin. Not previously published.
 

 

Begin by shaking conch-shell shaker to summon the dead.

 

Michael

Lorri

Jane

We are the dead.

 

 

We are the dead.

We are the dead.

 

We are the dead.

We are the dead.

We are the dead.

 

I am your little girl, and my braid is still intact.

 

 

 

I walked the lands of Tieton when mother did not know its name.

I am between two passions, slipped away to rest.

 

 

 

I am happier here. Where you are, for me, there was no staying.

 

 

 

I saw the weeds in the sidewalk cracks, and you saw that garden too.

I made lemon meringue pie for your birthday.

 

 

 

I am enjoying the cigarette you left me in nag-free peace.

 

 

 

I helped you plan the picnic we had in the rain.

I am the father who died before your graduation.

 

 

 

I am the child who collected pine cones.

 

 

 

I thought pigs looked good in lipstick.

I am poppop, smiling at you in your dream.

 

 

 

I picked apples and gave the best one to you.

 

 

 

You knew my secrets. I took yours with me.

I am the baker with flour still on my fingers.

 

 

 

I was your first kiss; you were my last.

 

 

 

I played Clare du Lune on the piano when you came home.

I am the grumpy uncle who farted in public.

 

 

 

I am the grandmother who peeked through blinds I never opened.

 

 

 

I purred at your feet, and licked your fingertips.

I am a flutist. Did I win your heart?

 

 

 

 

I am the dead.

 

I am the dead.

I am the dead.

I am the dead.

I am the dead.

I am the dead.

I am the dead.

I am the dead.

I am the dead.

I am the dead.

I am the dead.

I am the dead.

William, Kay, Debbie, Jerry, Bill, Kazuo, Daryl, Marco, Grosvenor, Elizabeth, Francine, Bob [repeat and fade]

Adeline, Lawrence, Irene, Kathleen, Nicole, Stephen, Raymond, Farel, Jack, Robert [repeat and fade]

Sylvester, Jenny Annie Dots, Edith, Bill, Pam, Martin, Uncle John, Goggy, Moppet, Larry [repeat and fade]

 

Shake the shaker again to end.

 
 
 
 
 
Bottom four photos courtesy of Mimi Allin.