April 12, 2009

Things You Should Know About The Girls

by Cassandra Dallett

You should know
that The Drink Team was so good at what we did
most of us were sober by our 21st Birthdays.
You should know
that we never “fit”
but we were always “in”
We hung with
Punks in the pit,
Skins on the stoop,
Head bangers at house parties,
Cholos in low riders,
Bloods off the block,
freaks and fiends
funding our highs.
Misfits at every phase
I was the only white girl
Winnie & Juju the only Chinese
and Passion the only Hawaiian on the scene.
We were every man’s dream.
Galileo High in 1985.
Me fresh off a plane from Vermont.
Judy approached me first
in the hall
I was a towering skinhead in doc martins.
Judy in all blue-black
liquid liner expertly applied,
layers of torn hose webbing her legs.
“What’s up?” She said with a generous smile
On her pretty moon face
and invited me out to "The Wall"
where the white kids and “The Others”
loitered and smoked
refugees from a sea of typical Chinese
and Black teens.
There I met Wendy and Passion.
Wendy cute in a reddish brown perm, converse and leather.
Passion in her Silent Bob overcoat rhythmically swaying.
The shape of a bell always tolling.
We cut out
to boost diet pills and ended up
In Chinatown at Wendy & Judy’s.
They introduced me to huffing Wite-Out
from small paper bags.
Me clinging to my Mickey’s 40 ouncer.
thinking these girls sure were weird.
It wasn’t long till we were inseparable.
Wendy liked her liquor hard
and we were pros
at the five finger discount
two of us hiding the booze
the other two lifting it.
We drank Jack, 151, Seagrams 7, and Peppermint Schnapps.
Wendy only showing her drunkenness
By the redness of her face
I only showed it
trying to fuck or fight.
Over the years we kept journals describing our perfect men
too often believing we needed one to define us.
We navigated the city on buses and hitchhiked rides.
None of us knew how to drive.
But we knew the rooftops of Chinese projects
Had a pigeon’s eye view of Broadway’s lights
Knew every stairwell and park bench on Haight.
Our crew grew and dwindled but it always
came back to us.
dropping out of school
and re-enrolling.
I finished
only because I kept showing up
looking for direction
loving the access to brothas
I brought down the hill,
teaching them how to fuck.
My bedroom a tall box
the Old English 800 tiger
roaring down at us.
In unlikely combinations
guys who supplied highs
and those we were really digging
God help them.
In that beer sticky, smoky room
slept the likes of
Terry Bash and Toby Rage
Cisco and Flaco, Headley (R.I.P.) and
Smoke n’ Raym from the block.
Everyone stayed at my house
Some stayed for weeks
Our drunken guests leaving
vomit trails down the hall.
My aunt threatening to kick us out all,
A few pushed, some stumbled straight through
our front door’s glass
or pissed slamming the metal gate
leaving the whole flat shaking in their wake.
Passion always on the run from a cramped studio
her parent’s intoxicated madness bouncing off walls.
Instead she chose to sleep in the back of a camper truck
in Kezar’s parking lot.
where other runaways and homeless hippies lived.
All of us crowded in, frying on acid
freezing mid-sentence every paranoid time
“Rollers” was loudly whispered.
In the dark and quiet each of us tripping
pictured the black and whites rolling silently by
waiting for their flashlights,
our stiff legs stretching to scatter.
They never did come and eventually
we lapsed back into important conversations
of where we would pull a runner on breakfast
or other feats of robbery and petty theft.
You should know
that we are all artists.
Even if our talents
lay dormant for decades.
Together we toted
Wendy’s canvas
painted with ladies high heel
on our backs.
We cried and laughed
the four of us.
Wendy’s boyfriend and his fatal ex
-fought us all, strengthened
by her obsession with that white boy
something we could all understand.
When she grabbed the phone
and called Wendy a bitch
we crossed town fast
swinging through his door we threw
bottles, speakers, bitches and motherfuckers,
as if he had cheated on all of us.
Later that night after storing
the painting at my house
and heading off to a party.
We danced and sang
“We are family, I got all my sisters and me”
His tubal baby almost killed Wendy,
but we survived
accompanied each other
through future births
and abortions.
Passion the first Mom
At 19, she suffered through labor
kicking me and my rustling classifieds
from her hospital room.
I thought, that with the birth of our first
I would get a job and stop fist fighting
with my boyfriend.
Some of us were strung out on dope,
some of us on love.
Through breakups and clean ups
spiraling depressions and near suicides.
We woke to three little birds
singing each other back to life.
We did that,
And you should know.
All of us were born in the fall.
Three roosters and a dog.
True to our horoscopes.
Balanced in our differences.
We are family people,
loyal to each other and to our blood.
All of us damaged
but grown up survivors.
We four
hope for children
not to go through all
that we did.


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