the louderARTS Project

Photo courtesy of Peter Dressel

Lynne Procope

Lynne Procope is a poet and teaching artist from Trinidad and Tobago. She is a founder of the New York based non-profit, the louderARTS Project Inc. and a director of its Workshops and Outreach Program as well as curator of the experimental performance workshop, synonymUS. She was a member of the New York's 1998 National Poetry Slam Championship winning team. She is co-author of the collection, Burning Down the House (Soft Skull Press, 2000) and her work appears in the Summer/Fall 2000 Drums Voices Review, Poetry Slam Anthology (Manic D Press, 1999) and How to Read an Oral Poem (University of Illinois Press, 2002).

In May, 2002 Ms. Procope was a featured writer at Jamaica's Calabash Literary Festival. Her writing and performances were commissioned by Vision Into Art as part of Sounds by Kandinsky and Democrazy (pt. 1) at Lincoln Center's Clark Studio Theater and the Thomas S. Kenan Institute at North Carolina School of the Arts through the Spring and Summer of 2002. She is currently writing newly commissioned works for performance in the 2003 edition of Democrazy. She has been a featured poet/performer at several venues across the US including colleges and universities such as Pace, NYU, the University of Texas at Austin, Macalester College, Hampshire College, Bryn Mawr, Boston College, Amherst College and Mount Holyoke.

Lynne Procope's poems are imbued with a vivid sense of language and style. A master at her craft, each line is structured with sparse grace and beauty. Deeply rooted in the political and personal, she gifts her readers with a critical view of the world, and a new and daring way of looking at the self. Resonant with clarity, her poems are frank, saucy and introspective. Her poems remember, her poems teach!
• Cheryl Boyce Taylor
Author of Raw Air (1997) and Night When Moon Follows (2000)

lynne at louderARTS dot com




Butterfly Nut House Ė in memory of PJC

We buried you, in a cold snap, during
a transit strike, nothing moving except
under the power or our own energies.

We whispered, a cancer, what made it?
and there grew a fear of our rash rough throats,
everything a threat. We shifted uneasy,

shoulder to shoulder, almost as in love
as we all were in the old days but for
this thrall of absolute ice, we owned

no explanations except perhaps sucrose,
and red wines too sweet for grownups. Peter.
how did we arrive here, without you?

Tonight I write at our old holy place.
The bartender does not know youíre dead,
He gives me free beer; cold benediction.

He begins the list, asks after our circle.
This one still hungry, another married,
the youngest carries tumors; mistaken babies,

the loudest gone to where he can praise
an easier god and you; each time Iím asked,
I forget which words mean that youíre dead;

underweight, 90 lbs when they cracked
the ice bound earth. I have not spoken aloud
since your first call to say, Cancer. Perhaps

your bare back exposed as a scandal and
all your lovely hungry boys. The last thing
I said was, How do I apologize

for letting in the monster that is eating you?
Was it your fatherís ministry, his holy,
the cracked closet door, your motherís deep cough,

or the voices that leached onto your ear?
When you stopped listening, did they migrate
south, inhabit your spine? You abdicated

madness. Was that it? You, younger, crazy
more naked, you louder, willing to sing
off key, off beat, all the wrong words. You said

you wanted babies and a lover with
a jaw like your fatherís, but a fistless,
godless man whoíd look just like you. I said,

you were too young. I said, we had time for
all our vain mistakes but you murmured,
a baby. I want to be beautiful

for someone- want a body to love me
so that Iíll be beautiful.
i think
I promised that weíd love you, always.

I hope that I did and that itís enough now.

Still it seems the monster took a faster
path than love, arrived at always before us.
Perhaps laptops, black-pepper, pesticides.

Was it red meat or 10,000 bacon sandwiches,
the old days or our fashionable inhalations,
our mystic vegetation? we canít have been

so innocent. Perhaps naked to the moon,
something in the ether would not forgive us
and so had to have you.

Perhaps menthols, lead paint, asbestos or lye.
Something must be at fault. Perhaps religions
that swallow a gay black man whole in this

precious America where faith is what
we wear on our t-shirts. Dear Peter,
here is our religion. you are 1st generation

of this butterfly nut house, beekeeper
to us sons of immigrants, comic book inker
of scar wristed superheroines.

you, Peter, keep our brilliant boisterous,
protect our cartoon alter egos, our truthless
selves. know, please, how I wish

that Iíd lied when you called to ask if,
finally, we were growing up. forgive us
what we do in your memory.

© Lynne Procope



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .