SWAMIJI. PERFORMED BY THE ARTIST FOR THE CULTIVIST, 2016, ART AGAINST TRUMP, 2017, AND AT PAUL KASMIN GALLERY 2018 AS A CHAMP PROGRAM.
The sluggish Swami sat, slumped
on my Bredrin’s sofa,
of 117th Street.
Dressed in orange Puma gear,
his chubby upper-lip was sprinkled with wispy hairs
that I’m sure were feeling quite scared
of this chilly January blitz.
He looked about… 19?
He looked bored.
He looked like he was less than keen,
but he asked me why I had come to see him
and I decided to, yet again, be ingratiating.
Cos he was in all-orange and I was in jeans?
“Psssh. You should know better, Buckman”
I say to myself
whenever I replay
this fucking scene.
So I sit there
and I try to respectfully explain
that I found some of yesterday’s talk difficult to maintain.
I mean, amazing, of course,
what with him being so wise and well-taught,
and us being so keen
and hungry for the knowledge
and so pleased
that he’s come to visit us
and chosen our group of enthusiasts
to impart some of his wisdom to…
“Of course I am honored, Swamiji.” I said.
“But… I do… I do find some of it hard to wrap my head around
because, of course, I’m a woman,
a Western woman,
and I’m afforded certain freedoms
and so it’s difficult for me to receive some of the teachings you were teaching you see,
because well, some of them Swamiji?
just some of them,
sort-of seem to pitch women below men, that’s all really.
I mean… Respectfully.”
And then the sluggish Swami learnt forward, right?
and began to recite
what I can only call the most
I’ve ever heard anyone spit in the flesh.
Like, yeah… I’ve read backwards shit and I’ve seen it on the telly and all the rest,
but I’ve never sat inches away
from someone who was actually trying to say…
that in his village women must stay in the home or else they’ll be raped by Muslims.
And whilst in the home
it’s better for them to cook
because women can’t possibly receive
the same spiritual fruit as men because they bleed…
and the pain of the menstrual cycle
is not conducive to learning the Vedas which is basically the Hindu bible.
I am my Mother’s daughter,
I am my Grandmother’s granddaughter,
I am my Father’s daughter,
and because I am my daughter’s mother…
and because I am sister to my brothers:
I challenged him.
Like, I really tried to challenge this stupid, now slightly sweaty, sluggish Swami, and as I did
I began to get a little sweaty myself,
and as I went round, and round, in cycles
with the imbecilic completely ridiculous wannabe-Rishi
I realized that I wasn’t actually sweating at all you see…
I was bleeding.
In my jeans.
On my Bredrin’s sofa just south of 117th street
was the walking proof of a western woman who had exercised
her right to choose.
And they told me I should probably expect some bleeding
but my mind had always been two steps ahead of my body and my body had been holding on…
so I hadn’t experienced anything.
Other than the weight of our decision,
and the grief of it.
But in that moment sat on that sofa
I smiled for the first time in a week.
And I let the ramblings of this
unfortunate, ignorant, infantile boy
blow away with the Harlem wind…
And I thought myself
“I’m gonna be here in the spring”.