Saturday, January 23, 2021

18 Dodi…Letter to a Daughter on Turning 18


Spring 2003. Dodi and Dad say no to the WTO.
Photo by Diane Green Lent.

A first demo eighteen years ago, among other heroes, 
Ari, Jean Paul and Jean Jean Seberg, Howl,Jules and Jim. 

Look who showed up at the drag march 2019!!!! — atGreenwich Village.

Every year I write you a poem on your birthday.
This was the one I didn’t want to write.
But I have to.
My heart wants one thing.
My head knows you need something else.
You need to dream.
Our whole world turned upside down, and right side up, when you came that January day in 2003, the war looming, you saying hello to us, to my Dad after the riots,
When none of us knew what when I didn't know what to do.
So we learned together, for better or worse, making meals, listening to Janus Joplin records, chatting, going to Coney Island. Remembering if I need a coat, you need a coat.
And fighting the WTO in Union Square,
Your first demo Earth Day 2003, secure in a backpack.
Then fracking demos,
Going to art shows, charming and mature, like a wise soul.
This one’s been here before, they’d say.
Biking around the city, strolling about as you became a person.
Living and Breathing, growing and moving through time.
We tried to hold you with open hands.
as you made your way forward, through the bumps and bruises; triumphs and losses
toasting failures in karate.
Going to school in Prospect Park,
And skating in Bushwick,
And then to Dyker Heights and the Lower East Side,
Through changes, dragging you to sing happy birthday to Pete Seeger and ‘Hey Jude’ with Paul McCartney dancing on stage with Belle and Sebastian and Shonan Knife. 
You are the lead singer: sing loud!
Lead bass through time.
Through a Fairy Tale of the Supermarket.
Dancing to Bridgette Fontaine in Bowie makeup.
With Helga in the Cabaret.
Lola and company falling in love again,
down to Sunset Park, through time.
The kid’s job is to fly away.
The nest will be here,
Right here in Brooklyn, right here in our hearts.
Let’s remember where we’ve been, between 331 Sackett Street and Long Beach,
Where we both went to school together. Where you passed long days with mom at the aquarium, or beach, or learning to swim in that giant pool.
Swimming back in Garrison.
And then to Hoyt Street where we went to demos and Judson and walked to Red Hook, and dropped off supplies during quarantine and watched Truffaut movies and punk docs,
Old Woody Allen, and everyone grew.
In between trips to Garrison and Princeton and Berlin and Visby,
Selling lemonade for everyone.
And hiking through Spain and Italy, taking all night trains to Budapest, walking all night talking about Chet flying from the roof in Amsterdam, and listening to Kermit in New Orleans.
Meeting your cousins in France over and over again,
Eating the stickiest cheese ever,
Wandering Brick Lane, from London to Dorchester, to Falmouth and back.
And thrift shopping in Toulouse,
Cheap, Italian Make-up,
Finding the ‘Slammers' jacket.
Making our way, your way, finding yourself
Enduring as your friends changed.
All that’s solid melts into the air.
And you hiked in the summers, played bass and jammed,
finding something else in the public spaces of New York city.
Chicks in bowls,
Public space for the people, for women,
Red hair flying, music playing, Viv Albertine cheering you on,
Rebel Dodi staking her claim,
Battling the blue demon,
"Dad, I just couldn’t do it," you said all those years ago.
But you kept on going.
Kept on running, getting up and going.
Dodi Shepard on the move.
Through time, from Santa Cruz, ring that bell Dodi,
To Brooklyn, to Charlotte, to Fat Kid, Trash and Vaudeville, to the East Village,
 jamming and modeling and writing and writing dream journals,
Images of apocalypse and escape, punk bands and a lunatic fringe: throughout the pandemic as the dreams have intensified.Always movin getting away. Time is always changing,
Now and forward, skate the wave…
Have faith, follow the unknown end.
I’m still lost making my way down and up the winding staircase.
I didn't know what to do when you came.
But you opened us up to an unknown, a life force hurling through time.   
We chose to never stop growing, and you helped us be better.
Reciting TS Elliot in the morning,
Let us go there you and I, wondering what the day will bring,
The women they come and go, talking about Michaelangelo.
Taking the F train to 40th street for a job,
Reading Punk memoirs,
Writing poems,
Shattered mirrors broke her spirit,
Thinking about the secret history of dreams.
That kid shivering on the stage is now a star,
From New York to Tokyo to Paris and Back.
Reading through the copy of Howl that your grandfather listened to in college, 1956.
“I can’t stand my own mind. 
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?”
Soon, gorgeous, soon.
We can always go to the art store on 4th Ave and 2nd and back to the grocery store, for a morning stroll.
Or walk to Five Strides in Bushwick and the galleries in Williamsburg, looking at comic books.
And get tested 14 times, down to Red Hook, back down Clinton to Court Street, quick right, rhyming and chatting, jay walking all the way home, a hot chocolate in hand.
And looking at Jules and Jim and Breathless, a cigarette in Jean-Paul’s mouth the whole time, wondering what happened to Jean Seberg?
Learning to ask a million questions.
As the world changes, presidents come and go
- From Bush to Obama to Biden. 
Remember home is inside of you. 
Home is not out there. 
Home will always be here for you.
Now go and fly.

At first I didn't know what to do when you came.
You let me grow, holding and letting go, and seeing the poetry in it all.  
And now that I've figured it out, you are flying.  
You’re as free as a bird.

Go and fly. 
Remember you need a coat and gloves.

But come back too!




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