Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Memoirs of a Banana

Men creep around,
take my measure,
denigrate my size,
discuss Freud's theory
about penis envy
in loud voices
ad infinitum.

I ignore them.

Women peel me
with gentle hands.
Swallow me
with warm mouths.
I have given my life
many times
for the love
of a good woman.

Once I starred in a movie.
W.C. Fields.
Mae West.
Lord, that woman
adored me.

That was my finest hour!

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Woman Next Door

She was odd, they said. Eccentric. A strange one.
Blind in one eye, a Cyclops, she hid in the attic,
wrote dirty poems and, just to keep them all guessing,
she sometimes howled at the moon.

I saw her downtown, trolling fast-food dumpsters
for bits of tossed burgers or left-over potatoes.
Dressed in black from felt hat to laced slippers.
Patch over that obscene bottomless space
on her forehead, I expected her to soar suddenly
upward, broom under one arm, chanting incantations.

At the time, I was prone to odd fantasies of my own.

Once, the unexpected feather-like touch of her hand
startled me--not harsh, like the rough beating wing
of a killing hawk, but more that of a baby bird.
Lost. Hungry. Frightened. In search of its home

Pris Campbell(c)2004

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Saving The World

Grace Slick photo from one of her fan club sites

Segue back in time. Last year of graduate school. Sprawled on the apartment sofa of the man who is to become my first husband 14 months later, after his time in Viet Nam. He plays his latest LP. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds fills the room.

Not since Bill Halley came out with Rock Around the Clock in my childhood, causing instant sermons on the sins of Rock & Roll all over the country, had I heard a piece of music that I knew would change the face of music in a major way once again.

We all thought Lucy was about the Beatles tripping (and yes, as we found out later, they did do that, too), but they claimed that the song came from a drawing by one of their six year olds. I'm not sure I believe them, but we'd have to play Revolver backwards to find out the truth on that one, I suppose. If you were born after the sixties, ask your mom or dad to explain that last reference.

Enter Grace Slick. Wilder than the Beatles could ever be. A sensual Janis Joplin in white boots, springing up on radios all over the country. Jefferson Airplane, her group. What could be more glamorous than the combination of San Francisco, the Filmore West, Haight Ashbury, and Ken Kesey blowing the scene , all at the same time. Grace was every wild woman's alter ego. She was music. She was sex. She was drugs. She knew no boundaries. I heard White comes Alice..and she's ten feet tall...and no-one could say GRACE was singing about her six year old's drawing. Grace Slick and the Airplane became the music of the times. She made your heart thump, your feet long for adventure.

I finally saw her perform in the mid seventies. The band had changed names. Grace was older, tired-looking on a platform stage in a gymnasium somewhere in Massachusetts. The fire wasn't there like before, but the man in my life at that time and I sat on the gym floor in the dark, listening to that famous voice and were swept back to times when our generation believed flowers, protest marches, bell bottoms and free love would still save the world.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Original photograph by Sue Baker Wilson of New Zealand

Monday, January 17, 2005

Day of the King

In the summer of 1963, before graduate school started that fall, I headed to Manhattan to live with a racially mixed group of twelve in a Columbia University frat house, rented for the summer.

Our stated goal? To study international relations. Our real goal? To party and explore Manhattan as much as one perched on the threshold of adulthood can do with barely a cent in pocket.

The requirement was to find jobs during the day to pay for our room and board. The study groups would be early evenings. Having no workable skills, a Black church in Brooklyn was kind enough to hire me half time to teach a summer class of five year olds in a tiny sweltering room, its one window frozen shut by paint, loosened only after hours of frantic scraping.

When the cook for our group threw up her hands and quit after one week, our erstwhile chaperone offered that job to me and another group member with only a half time job. We grabbed it. Cooking meant no dishwashing duties. We weren't dummies. One problem. Neither of us knew how to cook.

Sue and I found ourselves staring at a cast iron stove in the cellar, pots reaching chin height, with no clue what to do. Our group good naturedly suffered through blackened pork chops, burned mashed potatoes, and undercooked vegetables throughout the summer. Our evenings, after group study, were spent wandering the streets or sitting on the fire escape out back, searching for stars through the smog enveloping the city.

This also was the summer of the Great March on Washington, an event no-one thought would be more than a simple protest, quickly forgotten.

We didn't count on Martin Luther King.

A friend and I rode down on the church bus. When the folk singing was over, King stepped to the mike to tell us his dream. One important thing I discovered that day: Martin Luther King was not only a great orator, he was a poet, a man who knew how to hold his audience by the rhythm and repetition of his words. As he sang his poem of promise to us, a thrill swept through the crowd. We saw his dream. We believed it would come true. We laughed. We cried. Our differences disappeared.

Summer ended. Time has passed. The dream hasn't manifested yet, but I still hear his song. It plays over and again in the jukebox of my heart. I still believe what he told us. I still believe that, one day, skin color will no longer mean hatred and prejudice.

We need another poet like King to come along to song us, to pied piper us the rest of the way home.

Could that pied piper be you?


(note: I use the term, 'Black', since that was the preferred usage during that period of time)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Jack In Sepia and Nothing Else

This is a cropped/darkened out(modest, shall I add?) version photo from a nude male calendar I did, some years back, with a good friend from Boston. Some day I'll post about our experiences doing this, but not today. For now, let me say if you do this, expect the unexpected AND the men we worked with didn't mind at all taking their clothes off for a photo for women they didn't know. And all for no pay.

Readers...tell me one of the most outlandish--and fun--things you've done in the comment section. Dare you.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Watching Over

To see a full sized image, click HERE

Original photos used in this collage, except the background are by Sue Baker Wilson of NZ.

The graphic is dedicated to Pat Jakubowski, my apartment mate in graduate school, who just wrote that she is struggling with a serious disease. Please keep her in your thoughts.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Dreaming the Dead

Click HERE to see this haiga, since it's animated. The link goes to a page on my website. Turn on sound, and scroll far enough to see the haiku below the image. The original photograph was taken by Sue Baker Wilson of Katikati, New Zealand, of a graveyard angel near her hometown. Thanks, Sue!

Comments welcome.

Friday, January 07, 2005

After the Rains

Image by Marquis Vickers
copyrighted and used with permission

After the Rains

You spoke of her
many times in the days
before our first sudden embrace.
Her scarlet blouses...
the scent of jasmine perfume.

After our first night together
you spoke of her, never.
Did I replace her,
erase that space
that once filled your heart?

As anticipation fueled our days,
and lust kidnapped our nights,
with your many caresses marking
my body as yours, misgivings faded.

Until, last night, after the rains,
in that moment of mindless oblivion,
you called out her name.

Pris Campbell

Published in Limestone Circle

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Forgotten Dreams

Whan I was young, I wanted to be a ballerina. In fifth grade, I was first on my toes in the ballet class--then the ballet teacher moved away and our small Southern town could no longer sustain the salary for a new one. I don't honestly think I would've made a good ballerina, but the dream still captures me at times and takes me to bright stages, fluttering arms, and graceful leaps, the audience gasping.