On Other Banter by Rivky Gee: The Magic Inside a Poet and Her Conversations

Reviewed by Jared Benjamin.

What started out as a hybrid essay for a micro-pamphlet manuscript without a publisher, turned into a glimpse at a vibrant performer belting out her transition from  music to poetry. Rivky’s set of four poems kept me lost in the mix of topical humor and found imagery. Rivky purges the expressions of her own journey as a musician, and each and every poem is another pit stop for another world tour. Rivky’s experimental use of witty dialogue and happenstance collaborate beautifully throughout the work.

Other Banter is a quartet supporting such praise. It starts off with a memento to a catch 22 of a modern-day lost romance, relaying personal romantic issues with the bigger issues of humanity, such as social unrest. The piece is entitled, “Final Closing Number.” This spoken word piece, which begins with an intro quoting Maya Angelou (in the original recording). A particular callback to the theme of a love lost in a digital chasm can be found in this poem

 

“…By the fame, by the frame inside your talking cell.

In the flame, we’re all the same, such a shame inside a facebook shell.

Netflix welling up my mind,

paying by the dime

And time again, waiting by the lion’s den.

And ads are selling, one by one, no one’s yelling, I’m *mispeling, always texting, Waiting for the next thing.

Feeling painful pleasure building by the next ring.

November came in loudly.”

 

As we hear about a love lost, we not only see a glimpse into the falter of two flirts gone wrong in a digital age, but are lead in to a grand distraction from the issues plaguing our society today such as war.

The second poem in Rivky’s quartet is entitled, “I’m empty, my lord” a memoriam poem, paying tribute to the late great Leonard Cohen. In the first stanzas, Rivky reads,

 

“If you’re the composer, I’m told of your fame

If you are the singer, let me sing of your name

If thine is the poet

I’ll remember your name

They want it darker

You are the flame

Magnified sanctified, this melody shall remain

Vilified, crucified, in the human frame

A million candles burning for the legend speaking pain

 

They want it darker

For money, their money?

I’m empty, my Lord.

I hadn’t known your story

But the dream is still the same”

 

The lines throughout this poem speak of much more than what’s been accomplished, but the painful journey it took to achieve said accomplishments. Rivky balances the genre of elegy and ode fairly well throughout this piece.

The next poem deals with something a little more personal to the author, in which Rivky speaks about her struggle with schizophrenia, entitled “Rouging the Aces”

 

“I am sharply awake

From when twilight first faded,

Un-rested

This maddening heart.

 

Those thoughts, illuminated

Those words aching.

Definitively, cut off.

 

Oh my purple sevens,

Fragment heavens

Of color, greens and nines

Of latent blues and silver two

Written inside this gold, mine.

 

Fractioned, Falling one by one,

Even, tipping, edging,

Oddly numbing, resolving none.

 

Hued, shaping, slightly

Mooded.

Indeed, draped, muffled, sorted,

Muted.”

 

Through these stanzas and further into the poem, it almost feels like Rivky speaks of entirely different world, always on a tipping point through her eyes, one that is composed of fragments and always trying to rebuild itself up again.

The last poem, is brilliant in re-introducing humor and ending on that note rather than on a sadder one. Entitled, “C is for cellphone. Nom, nom, nom.” It is more of free-form prose than a typical poem. It’s actually pretty hard to categorize in terms of overall genre but in sub-genre terms I would say dark comedy. This dark humor story captures the imaginative and whimsical wit of Rivky’s own relationship with technology. A relationship, that I feel so many of us can relate to.

“Again. I mean, certainly I knew that, what I was seeing in front of me was really all but some kind of hallucinatory, audio-visual Telly box, Matrix. Purely just a psychedelic experience of fleeting, flashing lights. But, then, really not. You know? I force-blinked my eyes tightly shut for like a few micro-seconds to outright refuse the oncoming text traffic. I did! Really I did.

But after the omg’s, wtf’s, tmi’s, lol’s, brb’s, the sound of loud bloody red-flagged notifications and alerting dings, dongs and dangs, it just couldn’t be silenced.”

And further we see how that relationship with our technology can take a unfortunate turn:

 

“…As I sat there reflecting blue-nosed, with my chin brightened by this frame, I wondered.”

 

Was I indeed paying a high price? My Cookie Monster nostalgia has faded from my consciousness, replaced with an immediate consumption of something else. Cookies seem healthy in comparison.

“C is for cellphone. Nom, nom, nom.”

Whether it’s on the basis of dark comedy, existentialism, fading romances, or homages to the fallen, Rivky’s themes interconnect to show you her world, through her eyes, in a way to make you aware of your own.

***

(As there is no manuscript of the poems available for purchase, we have included them in their entirety below for your reading pleasure!)

***

Final Closing Number (Catch 22)

(Recently also transformed into musical composition of spoken word, with intro by Maya Angelou: https://soundcloud.com/rivkygee/catch-22-feb-25-2018-1)

 

I never fully fathom

What these little feathers tweet.

Another feed, another blow

Dragging loudly in the street.

Chirping things I do not know

Offering nothing simply nothing

-But something to excrete.

By the fame, by the frame inside your talking cell.

In the flame, we’re all the same, such a shame inside a facebook shell.

Netflix welling up my mind,

paying by the dime

And time again, waiting by the lion’s den.

And ads are selling, one by one, no one’s yelling, I’m *mispeling, always texting, Waiting for the next thing.

Feeling painful pleasure building by the next ring.

November came in loudly.

Facing me.

Mirroring me.

Oh, what is it what is it?

These days inside of nights and days of light and nights picking fights

In the state of an affair with both of them.

For the love of us, them, you, who, me too

Humanity is restless?

What are we in?

Why have we possessed such a nature?

For who?

For myself?

For you?

For the land we live in?

For the world we keep safely under our pillow?

Oh, but the feathers have all but blew

To the upward winds, with a sleight of wing

You can hear him sing,

He’s a catch, a 22

Ticking, timeless, Common Cuckoo.

Another Carob Spring turns over

A sweet honey be that as it come to May

I can already feel the warmth, sticky, oozing

From the hive.

Nesting in my ear.

Above the jive,

Resting in the clear.

How clear is my head, really?

How clear is anyone’s, really?

To stop. To question. To wonder.

Am I being good enough today?

Bold enough today?

bad today?

Flip a coin.

Take a side.

Any side.

Don’t worry, Don’t be fooled

They’re both right.

They’re both wrong, it’s trending.

You’re safe on my side

Protected, we’re pretending.

From who? I don’t know.

Them bad ones. No, no, no, no, no wait

Them good ones.

Ah, I don’t know,

Just safe from harm.

Stay close…

Change is a’ comin’.

One people at a time. One nation at a time.

One religion at a time.One tradition at a time.

One country at a time. One voyage at a time.

One evolution.

revolution.

One solution

No solution

One solution

No solution

One need at a time.

One NEED.

It always does.

In a day, a month, a year,

A decade, century, millennium,

A myth, dynasty, a kingdom,

An inquisition, coup d’état, revolt, coup d’état revolt, coup d’état,

Crusade, a bomb, a weapon,

war, march, movement. War, march, movement, war march, movement.

Humanity is restless.

What will it be?

That burns in our breath…

What will it be….

Humanity is restless…

Falling falling closing slumber.

He’s a catch. A 22

Final closing number…

 

 

***

 

I’m empty, my Lord

(In memory and inspired by Leonard Cohen’s Hineni)

 

If you’re the composer, I’m told of your fame

If you are the singer, let me sing of your name

If thine is the poet

I’ll remember your name

They want it darker

You are the flame

Magnified sanctified, this melody shall remain

Vilified, crucified, in the human frame

A million candles burning for the legend speaking pain

 

They want it darker

For money, their money?

I’m empty, my Lord.

I hadn’t known your story

But the dream is still the same

 

There’s a lullaby for suffering

I’m inside a different game.

Devil stitching letters

Threading scripture, bleeding stained

We want it darker

 

You were the flame

 

I left my voice a prisoner

 

Inhibited and tame

I struggled with some demons

 

Seeking something else to blame

 

I didn’t know I had permission to write and sing this way

We want it darker

For money, their money?

I’m empty, my Lord

Magnified, sanctified, this melody shall remain

Vilified, crucified, in the human frame

A million candles burning for the legend speaking pain

 

We want it darker

You were the flame

 

If you’re the composer, I’m told of your fame

If I am the singer, might I token the same

If thine is the story

We shall remedy the stain

We want it darker

 

For money, their money?

For money, their money

I’m empty, my Lord

For money, their money

For money

 

You’re dying, I’m born.

 

 

 ***

 

 

Rouging These Aces

(Compartmentalizing sparks of the Schizophrenic mind, inside synaesthesia)

 

Who are these visitors

That choose to call my name.

Colors, symbols – the trouble of a game

 

I am again uncertain

Brooding in bed,

Wearily wide-eyed.

I am sharply awake

From when twilight first faded,

Un-rested

This maddening heart.

 

Those thoughts, illuminated

Those words aching.

Definitively, cut off.

 

Oh my purple sevens,

Fragment heavens

Of color, greens and nines

Of latent blues and silver two

Written inside this gold, mine.

 

Fractioned, Falling one by one,

Even, tipping, edging,

Oddly numbing, resolving none.

 

Hued, shaping, slightly

Mooded.

Indeed, draped, muffled, sorted,

Muted.

 

Painfully firing across

Cliffs and valleys with such

Astonishing speed.

 

Like those shimmering

Bright stars that see.

Me.

 

What is it like, observing

The violent chaos?

Taking note.

Clearly, through

My little, opened window.

 

Fully moonlit, all aglow

Starkly naked, shivering.

Distant, alone.

 

Millions of tiny specks

Pearly flecks spiraling,

Clustered.

Silent.

 

Quiet from right here.

I understand them though,

To be not.

 

And they are, now.

Moving about,

Like these frenzied,

Flying bumblebees.

Clumsily appearing all

–Graceless.

 

Intermittently shooting, hurling

Bits, Shards,

From their Solarisphere.

 

Preparing for, perhaps a battle

Waiting to shield and

Safeguard their powerful,

Gushing light.

 

To deceptively hide from April’s

Blue dawn which will

Brazenly veil their

Silvery points.

 

A tinted, sheer orange, a shy violet cloud,

And an angry streak of

Radiant yellow, zooming

The ephemeral highway of sky.

 

But, quite enchanted as I was…

There was nothing. Significant?

No thing even remarkable,

in their customary exchange.

 

Nothing –noteworthy.

In their final epistle.

 

Come what May hem

Juniper letters, five blue petals

Your binary too then

Spiral the prickle and sharpen your nettles,

Doubled now two, decaying in ten.

 

Broadly, you prattle in your sequenced

Fibonacci stem.

 

Perilously, stacking up

Like a house of cards and dimes – Le contraire de solitaire.

Delicately magnificent, deceptive

Foundation,

On a Bluff.

 

Trampled down on

The suit, dressed in nines,

In which you were,

Dashingly decked out in…

 

 

Rouging these Aces.

Three of a kind,

Blackened, these spades, eleven

Dead blind.

 

But what caught my eye, this time around

Was that the King, just now was trumped,

Resigned.

 

And the Queen, bedazzled in her

Paragon of diamonds, was

soon stabbed

–Sadly, spaded.

By Jack, Be Nimble

-Without a bloody heart.

 

So, as it did happen

Dawn broke even

And the noontide meridian,

Was Crowned.

 

Be Still.

 

My purple sevens,

Fragment heavens

Of color, greens and nines

Of latent blues and silver two

Written inside this gold, mine.

 

 

Once again, dancing in their finery

Prancing in their giddy fashion.

Seductively jestering the joker boy

With a peevish grin, a swift blow,

And her poker-faced bow.

 

I have, for the time being, tranquilized the tempest.

 

***

 

C Is For Cellphone: Nom Nom Nom.

 

Before using a blue oil pastel to color in one of the Sesame Street muppets, I had been deeply immersed inside a blue screen.
On a speaking device often recognized for damaging, sometimes even, paralyzing thee…muscle movements located between the thumb and the index finger. Also, known I’m told as, the Digitus Secundus.

 

Thus it had begun in my hands. The biological elements moving inside the skeletal frame, froze. Phone cackled while bone crackled, fingers stiffened in ways not yet recognized by the normal course of nature as we knew it. With what also seemed to be a noticeable change in brain-wave activity soon to follow…

This Millennial  had become securely siamesed to a peculiar cellular proliferation. To this black buzzing, vibrating companion that repeatedly had been causing this rapid-fire rush of symptoms. Quickly. And in no particular order:

Feverish, dizzy, jittery, coked up, shaky, high, low, fer-flushed, fer-tempt, fried, trippy, panicky, sometimes nauseous, occasionally even affecting my hormone levels causing me to get my period way too early.

 

Now, I wanted to desperately loosen from its vibrating, bzzz, brrr, rrrring, BING!, hum-slipping, skedaddling, slick, stuckiddy, splitting headache. From that plastic, black and orange lined device that made me swipe, slide and press things to a crippling excess, ad nausea. My pupils dilated, in, out, in-out, in-OUT, bulged and ached from that disturbingly long scrolling-read that just, seriously? Eye-ball sucked me dry. Again. I mean, certainly I knew that, what I was seeing in front of me was really all but some kind of hallucinatory, audio-visual Telly box, Matrix. Purely just a psychedelic experience of fleeting, flashing lights. But, then, really not. You know? I force-blinked my eyes tightly shut for like a few micro-seconds to outright refuse the oncoming text traffic. I did! Really I did.

 

But after the omgs, wtfs, tmis, lols, brbs, the sound of loud bloody red-flagged notifications and alerting dings, dongs and dangs, it just couldn’t be silenced. I then remembered that just two hours earlier. No, three hours earlier, I could’ve sworn I needed to pee like really badly. How does the bladder suddenly know when to forget the desperate need to release such a high volume of pee, when there was even this mantra on a mission: “Oo gotta go, gotta go, gotta go, gotta go!!!!” And in that same perplexing P-pondering moment, I suddenly bolted to the nearest bathroom.

It was there, finding myself peacefully sitting on a toilet that my right, claw-clenched hand released itself simultaneously. I had begun miraculously moving again. I witnessed this almost poetic scene. It was a burgeoning, five-fingered, “Filipendula Ulmaria.” Just an elegant palm beauty as she was. Like yesterday’s unfurling of an early Spring. Relief washed over my wiggling pinky and thumb as I exhaled. Gently, my inner muscles eased. Pointed fingers up, in high-five style, stretching out, more now, opening my hand slowly, ah-eeh-oow-ow-Ow, easy, steady now, ouch-ouch, that’s it, sigh, breathe, ahhh. Better. Shake it, you know, like a Polaroid. MUCH. Better.

 

Mobile…it seemed.

 

Then I gradually became aware that there was my face. Unaware of the mouth on it? Moving. Between two peachy-reddish cheeks. That were human. And mine. I had realized at some points I had been sinking down…down, way too low, my mouth inching closely nibbling on the current Twitter feed. Even bird-like I imagined. I certainly may as well have been tweeting. My parched lips were almost but not quite clinging yet to the moistened electronic screen, hot headed, phony frame, encased in a sheer, pure, s-HELL.  At this point I had started to sharply imagine opening up my mouth really wide and taking in just this huge chunk. Out of the corner piece of my cellphone. Well, kind of like, Cookie Monster. Only perhaps consuming, an exorbitant amount of browsing history that could make ANY Sesame Street character, quite ill-equipped for all that unwanted, er, cookie, data.

 

Maybe I was just hungry? I hadn’t been nourishing myself well lately.

 

I bet this contraption was like one of those newer non-GMO’s on the market…phone-y screened for any genetic…cellular…mutations.

 

You ‘know, probably known to the underground Techno-Pharma Beatnik Squares, as

 

“Fluorescent Flora.”

With only the purest

batteries, copper, silver

and other naturally

occurring metal elements.

 

 

(Loudly advertised under, oh I don’t know, T-Mobile for Tasty).

 

“Organic…down to the last molecular…Cell.”

And the highest bid goes to?

 

As I sat there reflecting blue-nosed, with my chin brightened by this frame, I wondered.

 

Was I indeed paying a high price? My Cookie Monster nostalgia has faded from my consciousness, replaced with an immediate consumption of something else. Cookies seem healthy in comparison.

 

C is for cellphone. Nom, nom, nom.

 

***

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.