Poet Of The Week

Ben Fama

     September 23–29, 2013

Ben Fama is the author of New Waves, Aquarius Rising and the artist book Mall Witch. He is the co-editor of Wonder. His work appears in the Brooklyn Rail, Action Yes, jubilat, Notnostrums, LIT, Poor Claudia, Denver Quarterly, Maggy and on the Best American Poetry blog.

Pearl Lakes

There are things

You can’t get anywhere

But we dream

They can be found

In other people

No one can fuck

With my love

I’m on this boat right now

Kylie Minogue I believe in you

Is coming up from the cabin

Off an iPod dock

Bobby’s talking about his next tattoo

I’m thinking I wished Claire

Had actually died

I’m in the sun

We’re both smashed

All I did was to come to a funeral

And it’s like I fell into a dream

To live among the orchids

My last gift to Laura

Who hasn’t

On an awkward night alone

Laid back and pleased themselves

Thinking of the girls at Horne’s perfume counter

Their slim fingers

The make up tones

And that one soft true thing

Or the disgusting and sweet leather

Of Bobby’s jacket

Or James’s

If you like guys like that

Did I read somewhere

That Special Agent Dale Cooper

Was basically a boy scout

From the dog star sirius?

Or how David Foster Wallace said

If you’re ever in a situation

That evokes the capacity for feeling

David Lynch creates

You should get out of that situation

As soon as you have the chance

I think

David Lynch

Creates worlds

That are not like our own

Which is not the way television is supposed to work

Usually you have a soft abstraction of everyday events

Detached enough from reality

Canned to be like the lives we live and breathe in

The deviations therein hold our interest

I believe

In dark magic

And the dark woods

And the times our real lives

Mimic the currents of Twin Peaks

Cause dread and uncanny temperament

In the self


My mom use to watch this show

Unsolved Mysteries

And this one particular scene

From April 4, 1991

I know that because I am good

At using the internet

Showed 20 year old

Bank clerk and college student

Angela Hammond

From Clinton Missouri

Get abducted while talking to her boyfriend

On a gas station payphone

There were long shots,

Where the viewer saw her

Freaking out when she realizes

This guy in a truck was waiting for her


The boyfriend she was talking to got in his car

The lamest fucking station wagon you’d imagine

And tried to find her, and he did find her

Cause in this small town there was no one on the streets

And he heard her scream

When she passed him in the abductor’s truck

So he chased them for a few blocks

They showed the girl struggling with this guy ­the kidnapper

His truck had a decal across the small windows

Behind their heads

Of a fish jumping out of water

A detail that was backlit by headlights

And pressed upon my unconscious during this

Terrifying dramatization

They even played this shrill slowed down version

Of a woman screaming

Basically just like Maddie Ferguson dying

But anyways, the station wagon

Died out during a shift into reverse

And they never found the girl

When I was a young teenager

Buffalo Bill was the scariest villain

I’d seen in a film

I didn’t know as much as I do now

About drag culture

To think it was very funny

The best part

About writing a poem

For Twin Peaks,

Is that

There already is a poem

In Twin Peaks.

We hear it from Rita Hayward

Donna Hayward’s little sister

Right after the youngest Hayward sister

A piano prodigy

The real baby of the family

Performs in a pink tulle leotard

And rhinestone tiara

She’d make the perfect tumblr girl

–Originally published in Similar:Peaks::, May 2013.

Tell us about the making of this poem.

“Pearl Lakes” was commissioned for an event at the 92Y Tribeca on Saturday, May 5, 2012, under curation by the Silent Drape Runners. The event brought together performers whose content was in conversation with David Lynch’s body of work.

What are you working on right now?

A novel about crowdfunding.

What’s a good day for you?

I wake up at 4:30 AM. I never really sleep much and often start my day at this time. When I am very lucky and sleep through the night, I might get up at 7:00, but that is rare. The first thing I do when I get out of bed is weigh myself. I do this every morning, and if I have gained more than two or three pounds, I try to eat fruit and vegetables exclusively for a couple of days until my weight is back to my ideal. I make myself a tall glass of iced espresso (I don’t like warm drinks), get into a hot bath and slowly sip my drink as I come to life.

How long have you lived in Brooklyn? What neighborhood do you live in? What do you like most about it?

I’ve lived in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Crown Heights, Fort Greene and now I am back in Crown Heights, a few blocks south of Andrew Durbin’s apartment. After a decade among pre-war brownstones and screenprinted shirts of the Brooklyn Bridge, you’re really ready to see some pastels.

Share with us a defining Brooklyn experience, good, bad or in between.

That wonderful feeling when out-of-town guests leave.

Favorite Brooklyn poet(s), dead and/or alive?

I really shouldn’t say.

Favorite Brooklyn bookstore(s)?

For the past year, I’ve been living in Fort Greene, and Monica has been living in Crown Heights. There is no public transportation between our neighborhoods, and the best route is simply to walk. You develop routines doing this. For instance, we begin at a restaurant on the edge of Fort Greene, usually discussing our individual plans for the day while having Bloody Mary’s. During our walk, while each in our own world of texting, we may stop off here or there, depending on the weather, somewhere on Vanderbilt in Prospect Heights. We stop in Unnamable Books, and we always try to buy something. Then the large greenhouse that sells tropical plants on Washington and Dean, by then it is time for a glass of rosé. I think “rosé” is, indisputably, the most beautiful word.

Favorite places to read and write (besides home, assuming you like to be there)?

I’ve been doing all my reading and writing at the Adam & Sophie Gimbel Design Library on 13th St. and 5th Ave. Simply because it is deadly quiet.

Favorite places to go in Brooklyn not involving reading or writing?

The BBG on member nights, when it is closed to the public and you can sit in the grass and drink.

Last awesome book(s)/poem(s) you read?

Moira Orfei in Aigues-Mortes by Wayne Koestenbaum. I also revisited a recording of an Ariana Reines piece that I like to stay in touch with. It’s a reading from her book Coeur De Lion that appears during an interview on KCRW.

Why Brooklyn?

Brooklyn is a playground, but Manhattan is undeniable. As Bloomberg elegantly stated, it’s a “luxury product” worth paying for.