You three women could not have lived more different lives. Your last birthdays, 87, 70, and 61. Politics, Television, and Poetics. Powerful, Resourceful, Powerless. Having never met her Ironness, my relationship to Maggie is based on BBC World Service and that movie that came out a few years ago. Always a Minister, never a queen. Tyranny was your darling.
Our Ms. Thatcher died on a Monday in London of a stroke at the Ritz Hotel. She had been in poor health for months and had suffered long hours losing mind to trip along the cold water of dementia. I lost my grandfather to the boatman headed for that sorrowful shore in 2003.
The last time I was at Disneyland you were there in a parade wearing your big girl ears and an Anniversary sweatshirt, I was fourteen then. When I see pictures of you, bubblegum and suntan lotion come to mind. You had the love of your country, you believed in your army, and beloved jazzy piano solos…and the rest of your life is still in syndication.
If Maggie were the TV starlette, cooing in Uncle Disney’s clubhouse without dark eyes and a sugar-sweet voice, how long would the world have waited for the unspeakable rebellion that made so much great brit-punk music?
Minister Funicello at your service? England would never gone to war in the Falkland Islands–they’d have been dancing to the beat of Rock n’ Roll with their toes in the sand spinning records and drawing hearts in their diaries.
Our Beach Party girl died from complications from a controversial alternative treatment when the blood rushed back into her head as the veins of her neck were widened to improve blood flow–she died fighting it back. Better we think of bubble gum and Maui sands rather than blood transfusions, medications, and hours of pain.
Joie was just Joie. She could never be made of iron or sand. She was a punk rock singer and a street-guitar jammer in the summer of 77. She wrote her first performance poetry in 79, when Ginsberg and the new beats found her down on the Haight picking her strings with methadone-chicken-bone thin fingers, already living on the smack. How slowly the blood disease sunk into you after you got clean it drained all your life away but its cold push never made it into your work until 99.
Heroin, Pills, and stronger will than body, frail as a sparrow child, loud as a subway train. When all the ugly turned to beautiful, that is where I found you.
I met you on Facebook in 2007 and you sent me one of your chapbooks in the mail with a hand written note that said “I love you.”
Hours with you going on about reading and writing good poetry followed in the few years we lived online together. You called my face “pretty” and my words “pretty bitch”. When we read together at the Miller Tribute in San Francisco, you held onto me tighter than anyone I ever met online.
Not even my own mother ran her fingers through my hair that way just for no reason at all. It made my boyfriend at the time feel even more insecure. You reached out in the very best way someone does–with the force of your love.
Ms. Thatcher, Ms. Funicello, I say godspeed to your ruling bodies of iron and sand. To the daughter of San Francisco who never ever swam in the sea, I wish I had known you died last month, and I wish the last time I called you your number was still in service. I wish you had never quit reading your email. You spent weeks in the hospital on transfusions you said, that it was all you could do to sleep.
When you came to visit me in L.A., we had Chinese food and you told me that you were gonna stop calling people back. You were telling me goodbye. When you dropped away from all the online sites, those of us in your dirty girl tribe knew that soon we would have to leave you alone as you wanted us to let you go.
Then your body began its deathly dance–that is just what you wanted. When Hep. C and too many allergic reactions finally lay rot. You never talked of suicide because you lost so many of your closest friends to drugs and self mutilation. Even your single daughter talked about that. ‘Mom is a strong, ugly bitch” she said, “And I have hated her most of my life.”
I cannot speak to that attitude at all, but at the time it really pissed me off. I am over it now, and with any luck, she will get over it too.
Sleep sisters three, the world is different for having known you, and as for this pretty bitch poet, I will miss you, Joie.