Other voices house show

By Griffin Rae Birdsong

May 31, 2016

Illustration by Dig Reeder 

Illustration by Dig Reeder 

As I recall, the evening began with Dig, Diana, Nic and I walking through the Jackson’s in downtown Boise. I was explaining that Monaco was the greatest possible drink to bring to an all queer/femme poetry house show, but the rest of the group seemed unmoved by my appeal. All except the courageous and noble Diana, who was kind enough to let me have the last mango flavored one.

If you don’t know what Monaco is, it’s a canned vodka cocktail mixed with a fizzy, fruity concoction that tastes of taurine and vitamins. It’s power is lauded in discarded legends from old worlds. Mango is the best flavor.

Anyway, I bought two.

A seasoned performer like myself is always on the lookout for new and interesting beverages that cost under three dollars. As I said before, I have found that Monaco is the perfect beverage to drink before a reading of any sort. Regular drinkers of Monaco report that it helps their slow-burning, primordial rage burst through to the surface during a performance; which is obviously ideal.

I occasionally suffer from a profound, persistent and crippling feeling of impending doom. To counteract this I sometimes take medication. In spite of my upbeat mood, it was the sort of day that needed a chemical fix. Normally I would just sleep a day like today off, but that dog wasn’t going to hunt.
Deep down, I knew I was excited to read at the show. I just needed four shots of vodka before I would realize it.

As we walked up to the house, I noticed the Bernie Sanders 2016 sign in the window as I cracked open my first Monaco. As soon as it hit my tongue I felt something stir inside me. Something terrifying. An old friend? I didn’t know. I swallowed my fear with another mouthful of Monaco and knocked on the door.

The house was slightly smaller than I expected, which was more endearing than not. Our host, Kate Lange, greeted us at the door and lead us inside. Walking through the living room was like navigating a ball pit at Chuckie Cheese, except the ball pit was made of people and I was a full grown woman.

“No cis boys allowed” was what Marshall had told me when he first mentioned the show to me. To some people, I’m sure that sounds like more of a trope than anything. To me it was a chance phenomenon, a coincidence. A quiet, triumphant voice inside of me told me that it was a call to arms, but the prevailing voice in my head told me that I was just screaming into the abyss as usual.

I drink the second half of my first monaco in the back yard before the show starts.
I am a picker of scabs.

I bum a cigarette off Dig.
I am a squasher of spiders.

I crack my second Monaco.
I am the wailing in the abyss.

The show starts and I take a seat on the floor in back of the living room.
I am leviathan in an ocean of champagne.

My spirit was slowly leaving my body at the time of the show, and there were several readers, so I’ll just give you the broad strokes.

Maggie Rose 

Maggie Rose 

Diana Forgione

Diana Forgione

Kate Lange

Kate Lange


Alex Alexander (Boot Pony) opened up. This person, in my mind, can’t do wrong. They put too much of themself into their work and into their performance to do wrong. A most desirable characteristic for a fledgling abyss-screamer.

Emily Herbster might have been my unbiased favorite that night. I knew her first as a quiet, unassuming attendee of poetry slams, but she surprised me with passionate, sometimes sultry, poetry that made me feel deeply proud to know her.

I can’t help but feel a certain kinship with other gender wizards, but that isn’t the reason why I would recommend listening to Maggie Rose read excerpts from their science fiction flavored short stories. Imagination can be such a rare thing in the abyss.

Anything I might have to say about Diana Forgione is going to be bias as hell because we work so closely on various poetry things and also because I love her so much. However, it should at least be said that Diana is the only warrior I trust to slay me once the darkness fully corrupts me and for that you are all in her debt.

It is my personal belief that Kate Lange, in addition to hosting and organizing the event, is also the last surviving member of a long lost order of MOON PRIESTESSES. Many from her order would have surely have become poets if they had survived THE FIRST CATACLYSM, but none of them would have surpassed her sass.

Lydia Havens was our feature for the night, hailing all the way from Tucson, and she did not disappoint. After hearing her poetry I was surprised to learn later that she was only eighteen years old. Maybe it’s just because I was hopelessly repressed at that age, but I don’t remember having that sort of emotional depth at 18. If you want to see what I mean then you can find more information on her latest book here.

By the time Kate was done yelling at the moon it was time for me to go on. I had dropped the second half of my second Monaco during the intermission and my chest felt like the embers at the base of a fire fizzled out just moments after it finally it began burning. The prevailing voice in my head spoke to me, but the voice was not human.
It told me to walk in front of the mic.

I’m sure the moon was hanging in the sky, but it reflected no light.

Finally, there was no Griffin. Only Monaco.

I thought of the mango flavored vodka cocktail resting in a puddle on Kate’s back porch and cried out in a voice I did not quite recognize:

2000 years ago, it is said, the one you called Griffin Rae Birdsong clawed herself out from beneath the ice of a frozen mountain river.
It is said that she has no mother or father, but rather was conceived in the dank darkness of the loneliest of human hearts.
It is said that one day she shall return to that empty, dark place from where she came; wearing the broken hearts of your sons, and your brothers, and fathers on a string around her neck.
It is said there can be no hope.
It is said there will be no tears.
They will go willingly into the arms of the white witch, the heretic, the child of the proud abyss.
They will go willingly with her to roost at the bottom of that fabled mountain river.
And when the light finally takes them all, each and each, it is said that her heart will swell with pride in the knowledge of what it means to be truly, truly loved for the very first time.
Loved as nobody has ever been loved.
Love that will, at long last, button the mouths mankind
            and lay this wicked world to waste.


THE SECOND CATACLYSM was upon us!
Diana then, after a lengthy battle, recited the necessary incantations to seal me away at the bottom of the ocean so that mankind might have a second chance to flourish.

And then Lydia went on.

At the end of the night, there was no cataclysm. Dig and Diana gave me a ride home as if nothing had ever happened. In retrospect, a part of me believes we assign more importance to these things than we need to. Sometimes I think there was never going to be a cataclysm. This was just a house show. Just friends reading their poetry to other friends. Readers reading to readers. A Monaco headache completes the ensemble.

Of course, another part of me believes it was just as important as it seems. Another part of me believes that the day to day cataclysms are still cataclysms. There’s no light in the abyss, but there’s poetry if you’re willing to speak it out loud. Dusty old witches brush themselves off to be seen and heard in the world of the living. Fanatics seek the solace the moon brings them. Young Sages speak their heart.

This is not the substance of fantasy.

In fact, I’m certain now. It’s just as important as it seems. Other voices will be, must be, heard, eventually.

I know why mortals love poetry.

I know why I’m screaming now.