A poem written by two people is pretty unusual, and here Lopez and Drake tackle one of the most complicated and passionate relationships that ever existed: that of Frida Kahloe and Diego Rivera. What an incredibly rich piece! Perhaps the only thing better than reading it would be watching them perform it...so a video of them doing just that follows. Wow.
Christian Drake is a six-time National Poetry Slam team member, including the Albuquerque 2009 & 2010 Teams. He has been featured at hundreds of venues across the country and Canada. Jessica Helen Lopez is a Poetry and Creative Writing Teacher/NM History Instructor at Robert F. Kennedy Charter High School. She is a former member of 2006 and 2007 City of Albuquerque Slam Team and the 2008 National Champion UNM Lobo Slam Team.
Frida & Diego
Love was the mistress in our bed
a house I painted from the bedroom out
and I from the boulevard in
the canvas was the front window
where our paintbrushes met like lips
She was my little Chinese New Year,
Frida, my elegant stalk of lightning
in a peasant skirt, picking oranges at market
My little Diego, swollen
belly with a hankering for
the flesh of women,
blue agave lips and
I loved her color, how like a parrot
with her breastbone jangling with gold.
A parrot, but nude she was colored like a dove
in a clay church, so I called her mi paloma
in public, to keep her naked to me.
We painted one another into mortality
I painted her leading the guns and shovels.
I painted him like a emperor's bust in adobe,
her red skirt as the new flag of Mexico.
paper doll Frida with firm breasts,
bird bones held up by a tree of blood
spine like a thin paintbrush.
We painted each other:
In bed, I left a bloody fingerprint on his
thigh the shade of Scarlett #5
stroke by color-wet stroke
We were corazones sagrados
with one valve like a rubber bottle spewing flames
The heat between us set an ocean on fire
a pyre of linseed oil-soaked paintings.
It made such a crash, the world turned its head
a marriage that couldn’t be kept
in the perfect circle of a wedding band.
Some paints don’t mix.
There was always the seduction of revolution,
We were an imperfect, blood-tinged portrait
the smoke in the kitchen when the bread burns,
and the afterbirth of the same
child I miscarried over and over
his unspoken child,
I am not an easy-built woman,
but I stitched myself together by my own paint,
cross-dressed lover to myself
decadent and wing-clad
And he painted vast walls,
mansions with the proletariat at the gates,
farmers of rifles, flower-sellers in revolt,
I painted self-portraits as violent as the akward angles of sex,
Watching the world in the window of her mirror
I painted girls with universe bodies, round arms.
I painted him painted on my forehead.
I painted rich wives reclining on jaguars.
I painted her little sister.
I did not paint my Frida.
but s/he was always there;
she was the great bundle of lilies.
A man in the shape of a coffin
We toppled like a city burnt down by dawn.
Do not call us a love story
we were sacrifices, burning altars
to one another
We had the love of the broken dish
on the floor, the wine bottle stolen
and taken to bed. There is no revolution
that didn't start with an angry love,
no art in a perfect marriage.
Love is a subversive thing,
and every righteous movement in the world
was born in radical hearts that loved
like four-chambered guns.
Love was the mistress in our bed
it was our bed in a strange house
the tireless farmwork of lovers
the endless conversation of paintbrushes
two hands drawing each other
more than a gallery of portraits in Paris
it was the room we shared painting each other quietly
after a fight
after making love,
that was our masterpiece.
--Jessica Lopez and Christian Drake
The following video was taken at their Church of Beethoven performance July 4, 2010 in Albuquerque.
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