Friday, August 26, 2005

1947 - 2005 Henry Flesh -- Mr. Flesh! 

Please join us for a celebration of the life and work of Henry Flesh
(1947– 2005)
Selections from the author’s works will be read by friends and colleagues

Tuesday, September 6th, at 7 pm sharp
Cooper Union Great Hall
7 East 7th Street @ Third Avenue

A reception and art show will follow at the Pink Pony café
Ludlow Street in the Lower East Side between Houston and Stanton


The above is an announcement sent to me today about the passing of Henry Flesh. I'm shocked that he's been dead since June and I had no idea. I KNOW I KNOW, the picture of him above is strange because it's out of focus, but it's perfect. At least I think so, like, his molecules are going-coming-leaving-starting all over. Flesh, flesh doing a step to the left. Oh boy.

Anyway, wow! I'm sad about this. The first time I met him was at a reading and book signing he did in Philadelphia for his book MASSAGE. Novels don't interest me too much, but his reading was powerful, a sort of sexy brutality. Not brutal in that Dennis Cooper-let's-kill-them-THEN-fuck-them kind of way, but human, very human. Like he was saying This Is Who You Could Be kind of brutal, all of you, all of us. He had the We down in the story, if that makes sense.

The next time I saw him was at a reading I gave in New York, and we were suddenly SHY around one another. He knew that I knew that he knew that I knew how we felt, how I felt that we felt. He was the Elvis of super nerds to me, and I was ridiculous around him. But he liked that, and I liked that he liked that. We just liked it dammit!

When he first heard that Soft Skull was publishing a book of mine he said we should read together, and that made me very happy. Funny because I've never been happy before about the idea of reading with a novelist. But it was him, Mr. Flesh. Hehehe, when I would e-mail him back in the days of working at Giovanni's Room I'd always call him Mr. Flesh! It just sounded so cool, where saying Henry or Henry Flesh, well, you get the idea. Mr. Flesh! You are so damned cool Mr. Flesh!

But then we fell out of touch. And the next time I saw him was at a reading in New York for Eileen Myles's book of poems SKIES. She had done this interesting thing where she asked others to come and read from the book for her. So a bunch of us were there. I arrived with Hassen (Hassen you must remember this). Henry told me he was reading the poem "Bone" and I said, "Great, we can both read it." He wasn't sure if he should read it if I too was interested in reading it, but I insisted we both read it. I mean, WHY NOT give a poem two different readings, especially if it's a beautiful poem. No one writes breakup poems like Eileen Myles, and "Bone" is a beaut! Wow, I remember just HOW different the readings of that poem were too, because he really emphasized the break of the breakup, and I was sucked into the love surrounding it. For me it was the What of the roses of it.

         each lack each pit
         of the rain slowing down outside
         reminds me of your missing
         warmth, your regularity.
         I hated living with you
         I had enough
         I know you hate me for
         having said it with Roses
             --from "Bone" by Eileen Myles

That was the last time I saw Mr. Flesh. He hugged me goodbye and I was kind of jelly, stupid, in fact I giggled and it didn't seem to matter because it made him smile. That's nice, his smile the last thing I saw of him.

Anyway, he was a sweet, beautiful, sexy man, and I'm sorry I didn't spend more time with him like we said we would. Life is so fucking short. It's times like this, when you have someone in your mind, someone you liked being around, someone you were even attracted to, and you find out they've died -- well, you know where I'm going with this. It's got to be something that you keep in mind, death, to keep the living moments more alive!

Dear Mr. Flesh,
keep the burn alive for the next incarnation,
yeah, see you then, I'm looking forward to it,

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