Home > Mutating the Signature > We Wrote a Letter to Jesus and He Told Us To Buy a New Car

We Wrote a Letter to Jesus and He Told Us To Buy a New Car

March 5, 2009


There were sinister red marks on the dog where its hair came off

I had just moved back to the city after having been away for three years at school

It was around the same time I went out on a blind date with someone and dropped my keys under the bar at the Villa de Roma

Although I had no money I had several typewriters

In our childhood, we were all victims of DDT

I kept wiping my mouth on parts of the table napkin that I hadn’t soiled with my lipstick

The more I learned about my driving from rude strangers, the more I understood extinction

It seemed like everyone back then was making a film using one of those toy video cameras Fisher Price had come out with

On the ground, an egg sandwich absorbed the rain and disintegrated down the gutter

The sound of the CAT scan was just gaining prominence, getting louder and louder with each passing season

Poor as I was, I had friends with less

The museum was free on Sundays but I had to buy them coffee and once, a tuna melt

Since that day at the beach my digestive tract began to exist outside of my body

In the back of our heads somewhere—voices of our great-grandparents speaking in German, comfortable in their lonesome canal-town

The new car turned out to be a rainy-blue ’64 Buick Skylark with taped-on plastic material for the rear view mirror instead of glass

The way I’m lighting all these candles to save electricity makes me a real fire hazard

A lot of pretending goes into the appearance of water and electricity

For larks, we used to pretend we were courtiers, and our dog was of the 5th rank

I documented many aspects of our lives, but not our dog’s

Fifteen years later I remember the look of the crowd but not what the speaker said

Once I start listing them I can remember hundreds of these crowds

That must mean something

I see plenty of famous people (celebrities) around town but I forget them within seconds

Dear Me, I used to start a lot of letters that way

One conversation stands out, on a beach in Atlantic City

We had nicknames for everyone both consequential and inconsequential

I got a bit of advice from sisterly types about what to do about my name at the neighborhood bar

We heard people spray graffiti on the side of our house and it wasn’t even that late

Homes were sinking too, there were sinkholes

The whole time everything was happening I kept trying to find words to describe our own small, austere circumstance

Dogs woke us up early each and every day

It was alright to waste our time as long as we could choose how to waste it

by Arlene Ang and Valerie Fox

Download the MP3 (reading by Arlene Ang and John Vick)

For process notes, see “In retrospect, 1984 made a fine sausage

  1. March 5, 2009 at 3:37 pm | #1

    I find the fragmentary nature of this piece quite attractive. there is something exciting about leaving it to the reader to put the mortar around the bricks.
    :-) and oh, my, i love the title.
    and the lines”The more I learned about my driving from rude strangers, the more I understood extinction”…
    “Since that day at the beach my digestive tract began to exist outside of my body”

    i am curious as to why there are no full stops in the poem. did you do that on purpose?

  2. March 5, 2009 at 4:54 pm | #2

    this is a very rich and wonderful reading, a real object.
    i wondered what an accompanying video might look like.

  3. March 6, 2009 at 1:22 pm | #3

    I love this style, it reminds me of the work of Jenny Holzer (example: http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~field/holzer/living.txt), who I’ve admired for many years now. So many evocative lines, I just keep re-reading it.

  4. March 7, 2009 at 7:09 pm | #4

    Thanks for these lovely comments–they’re inspirational, really, will give us ideas…
    I think sometimes not having full stops can create a fairly pleasant kind of floating feeling…you sort of have it both ways, connected yet unconnected (meaning-wise) if you know what I mean!
    Valerie

  5. March 12, 2009 at 11:55 am | #5

    From the title I could already tell Arlene is involved in this piece – marvellous titles the pair come up with (and also “In retrospect, 1984 made a fine sausage–”).

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