Sunday, October 4, 2015

Debridement - Corrina Bain (Great Weather for Media)

Today's book of poetry:
Debridement.  Corrina Bain.  Great Weather for Media.  New York, New York.  2015.

Debridement - is to clean the wound, to remove the dead, damaged or infected tissue so as to promote the healing of the remaining healthy tissue, or so says my Oxford.

So here's Corrina Bain tearing away at the rough edges of your discontent with a chain saw and a laser.  Bain gouges out huge and harsh pieces of our misconceptions with a buzzing Husqvarna and then cauterizes them with her laser tongue.

Debridement is constantly one step ahead of the beat.  Think of Joe Harris playing drums on Charlie Parker's Ko-Ko, jumping one step ahead of Parker and Gillespie as though they were giants chasing him through the woods.  It is disconcerting and delightful.

First Time

I tried to take it. Not a real
a figurine
from a happy meal
one fused piece.
It was not mine, but so pretty
I thought I needed it. She
belonged to some girl
my parents thought
I should be friends
with but I did
not see
her. The girl had red ears
and light brown hair.
I had eyes only
for the tiny, mute princess. Ballgown
rigid opalescent plastic, deep
pink with light
pink bows. I wanted to
own it.
A picky child, my list of beautiful things was
short: My mother
white flowers
some birds
but not all
the doll's pale yellow hair
like a cartoon sun. I shoved her down
my pants. Bulge
in my Levis, imagined what my
innocent face would have
looked like, tried
to copy it. Found out, I cried, claimed
I only meant to borrow it.
Everyone forgave
the obvious lie.
I meant to have her. To measure
and study. Her small
peach-colored neck. To glean
the lesson my parents refused
to teach me, what a
girl is supposed
to be. Then, with
the big rocks
in the yard, to crack her
To find out
how thick the
skin, how thin.
What she was made
of, underneath.


"First Time" is a bit like a fairy-tale introduction into Debridement and perhaps a little unfair but we did a straw poll around the office and it was agreed.  Today's book of poetry laments our three poem limit frequently, but never more than today.  These baby's are hot.

Bain is absolute in his resolve to take NO prisoners.  You are going to hear the word 'fearless' used by almost everyone who writes about these poems.  Make no mistake, this is high-wire act stuff, no nets and high wind.  Bain solves this by stomping across that wire with authority and menace, as though he were on rails.

The Means


I was made for war
and game. Those were
happy years.
I was a late bloomer when
it came to girls, but once
I'd been introduced
how could I ever get enough?
Tunneled past whalebone
and crinoline, opened
a wet blooming under
their dress. Now the
ladies, they love me. They
know my names and my
aliases. I do what
your man can't. Smuggled
or paraded, stripped
and shined. Don't let the
tough-guy act fool you,
I love the ladies back.
When it seems I am just
laying heavy in your lap
I am asking for a kiss
your mouth's soft ceiling, pale,
heavy, lady's
brain up there, still
and helpless as a sleeping cat.
Bury the senseless, disposable part
of myself inside you like
a stopper. Even though
I won't care for you as much
in the morning. Even though
a kiss is never


Gender is not a diaphanous pool that Bain swims in and out of, although he sometimes creates that crafty illusion.  No, Bain's poetry is an assault, it is battery, it is bawdy and it is beautiful like a matador's coup de grace.

Corrina Bain's swath cuts across political, sexual and social boundaries.  These are exactly the sort of poems we need more of.

United States Army Private First Class
LaVena Johnson to Sarah Palin

Dear Sarah
             from the moment I saw you
beatific, anointed in news-ticker light
I knew you were meant for me
             that you would change my life
we are so alike
             I don't just mean the woman thing

your small town, a place
where nothing bad could happen
             photographs of you beside your husband
halos of animal fur around your pink faces

what a terror for you to be there, Sarah
under the midnight sun
to know your body
would make you a meal in times of famine
thighs rendered for lard               hair stuffed in
to soften a sawdust mattress
I see you running             desperation
to feel yourself God's chosen daughter
decided all the other lives were second
inferred sanctity into the function of ovaries
God's will in the dropping of dirty bombs

If you were not you
if you were some housewife
stranded in middle America
you would be so forgivable
but you are you--

you cunning pillowlips
you are the chosen

So when you said, in Wasilla
             that rape survivors
should pay for their own forensic tests
I knew what had happened
that you had passed
through the curtain
into a place where women
             are not women.
Where women do not live

now you're there you think
the power they gave you will protect you
like moss green poplin
and brass buttons would protect me
they would have to admit I was human
if I showed that love of country

You know what they did Sarah--
the contractors in our own employ
             abrasions        loose teeth        burns on my hands
the acid           they poured into me                 to burn out
their DNA                        the hole
they put in my head
could not have been made
by my shooting hand
and they told my mother it was a suicide

the molecules of my last breath
spread out over the desert
glinting sugary sand in the dawning light--
it looked like snow

if there is a god like you believe in God, Sarah
He keeps me here
waiting for you
my mother's anguish twisting me four legged--
I scan the horizon
             my time will come

you will fall from your helicopter
your rifle will kick and jam
I will feel your throat pulse
against the gray fur of my jaws

and you will know me                 Sarah
flesh of your flesh


Get that into you!  Debridement doesn't deal with issues of gender, Debridement opens them up like an anatomy textbook, then blows them up like an abandoned building, Bain blows them up with the very strong wind of wounded angels.

Next dinner party on Dagmar, I'm giving out copies of Debridement as people come through the door. We'll read our favourites for dessert.

My wonderful nieces, Larry, Curly and Moe, are going to go ga-gag for this book.

Corrina Bain
photo: Syreeta McFadden

Corrina Bain is a gender non-conforming writer, performer, and teaching artist. He is a former member and coach of multiple national-level poetry slam teams. His writing has appeared in anthologies and journals such as Muzzle Magazine, PANK, A Face to Meet the Faces, and the Everyman’s Library book Villanelles. Corrina’s work engages the nuances of the body as a source of identity, pleasure, betrayal, and shame. While deeply rooted in the personal and specific, his vision extends to encompass history, mythology, and politics. No injustice, hypocrisy, or human weakness escapes this poet’s gaze, especially his own. Searching beyond violence, he suggests there is power in trusting the body’s wisdom, in witnessing suffering, and in speaking what you do not dare to say. Currently, Corrina lives in Brooklyn where he practices roundhouse kicks, twerking, and emergency psychiatric counseling.

Corrina Bain writes poems as mean as the headlines, as true as a scalpel. To debride is to tear away the rotted, so everything can heal. Corrina Bain knows that what looks like savagery can be salvation, and has written us love poems from the church of the wound. Bone-heavy and scalpel sharp, read these poems, let the poison flow, and celebrate the beating, beating heart.
     —Daphne Gottlieb, author of 15 Ways to Stay Alive

Corrina Bain’s long-anticipated first collection, Debridement, shows what’s possible in poetry when you pour enough blood into the page and craft what rises to the surface. With a formal inventiveness that serves the brute bravery of this work, these poems have no qualm reaching down your throat and pulling out your living heart just to say look at it, look. Look.                                                                     — Sam Sax, NEA Fellow, author of  A Guide to Undressing Your Monsters 
Corrina Bain writes with utter fearlessness. These poems unveil an intoxicating examination of body and its complicated—often unhinged and relentless—affair with the mind, how inextricable the two. Here, the body’s boundlessness and betrayal. Here, too, the mind’s. Debridement is exactly that: a probe into what must be eradicated in an effort to survive. All this, Bain sees and sees. Among these texts, an unblinking sight.
     —Jeanann Verlee, author of  Said the Manic to the Muse and Racing Hummingbirds

Corrina Bain
(Poetry Observed)
video:  Button Poetry



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