The London Interview
by Jeff Languid, Everclear Magazine
JL: Hello, Mr. Gishi Bian.
JL: We’d like to know a little bit about you for our files.
GB: Why is that?
JL: I have no answer…
GB: Then let me assume you’re curious about the facts of my life.
JL: Yes. That would be it.
GB: I breath. I breath the atmosphere of the planet earth. I am of citizen of the cosmos. I am from no bounded place. I was born. I was treated poorly by my meta-adults, by and large. I was an average student. I had a family. One I came from and one I spawned. I am a human being as opposed to a human doing. I have experienced all the known emotions. If you want more, read compositions from my hand. I will explain no poem. I enjoy poetry. Mine and those by others. I esteem every person equally. Even those who do not afford themselves that affirming idea. Those superior types of personalities I find unfortunately banal, yet need love regardless – perhaps even more. I think the panoply of persons is a delight. I do have certain personal opinions and act them out. If I allowed you to follow me about with a camera, you yourself would discover and document that.
I believe in no movement, faction, or camp in opposition to another. I have only agreed notions and tend to explore my environment as an exercise of logical behavior. I find an attitude of exclusion absurd. The earth is a big place. There are many traditions. I sense each has equal importance. I do not support nor subscribe to obviously aberrant behavior thought to be so by every culture present on earth. My age is of no consequence. I will neither admit nor deny that anything I write is true.
Are you true?
I will say that I enjoy being a father.
If you wish to gain information in order to pigeon-hole me in some category so that you might begin an opinion process, I’m respectfully unable to provide that.
We are all humans. History fades and shines. Change the headlines and you know the story. One half of what you read is true. And of what you hear, one quarter. Is there anything else I might answer?
JL: Let me think a moment.
GB: Good answer.
JL: Okay, tell us about your childhood.
GB: Well, I can preface that by saying I had one. I had three sisters and three brothers. I deeply loved and love my brother.
GB: He used to give me blow jobs. Who doesn’t love that?
JL: Come on, Mr. Bian, be serious.
GB: My mother was rich and my daddy was good looking. I was in an Italian gang as a child. The neighborhood was ours. Names, places and dates I find boring. I liked to take rides with the bread man in his truck. I will say we lived on the east coast of the United States and spent recreational time swimming in the rocky shores off the North Atlantic Ocean. My brother and I used to hit small rocks into the sea with a small bat.
JL: Go on.
GB: Go what? Please, if we’re to continue, exercise your noggin a bit.
JL: My what, sir?
GB: I’ll wait while you use the dictionary.
JL: Please, tell us where you were born?
GB: In a hospital.
GB: Jeff, did you tell me you have a doctorate from the University of Chicago?
JL: I do.
GB: What did you convince them to write about?
JL: The movements of amoebae while under various shades of green light.
GB: My thesis was “Why black-top pavement isn’t green.” You can purchase it on Amazon in the worthless section. Where yours is.
JL: May I redirect you for a moment? Our readers are very interested in…
GB: Yes, I’d like to know. because I find myself quite dull and tiresomely vexatious.
GB: Let me give you the phone number of my analyst. She’d know. 43..
JL: No, no. that’s fine. How about this – your favorite poet?
JL: Other than you?
GB: Clarify for me, please. What is a poet in your estimation?
JL: Um, ah, I think it’s someone… Actually, I don’t know.
GB: Would you put Coleridge, Levertov and Howdy Doody in the same category?
JL: No. Howdy Doody was a puppet.
GB: Now we’re getting somewhere. We are all puppets, Jeff. Except poets.
JL: How do you mean?
GB: You, for example, are a puppet. A mundane puppet but a puppet regardless.
JL: I am not a puppet, Mr. Bian.
GB: You get a paycheck, right?
JL: I do.
GB: Then you are a puppet of the company.
JL: In that sense I guess I am. I do what’s asked of me, here at Everclear Magazine.
GB: I do what no one asks. In fact, some are pissed-off at what I do. I’m free. Prose writers must please their editors. or they do not get published.
JL: What about Bill Gates? Is he a puppet?
GB: No. He’s more of a gunslinger, thief or magician. Each one found a way to be a poet.
JL: I’m sorry?
GB: You are!
JL: Now you’re being offensive, Mr. Bian.
GB: No, I’m a poet. I write. You perceive things because of puppetry imposed. Imposed on you all your life. It’s a joke, Mr. Languid. Someone paid you to ask me questions. If you were a poet, you’d scratch your ass a bit and laugh. You’re a puppet of yourself.
JL: Now I’m confused.
GB: Scratch your ass a bit. Laugh out loud at pennies melted in Coca-Cola on Wednesdays in bloom.
JL: What? Wednesdays can’t bloom?
GB: Okay. Let me give in a bit. Edith Stein is my favorite poet. Bukowski and Cummings please me.
JL: Go on.
GB: I have two children. Boys. I like ’em. I believe nothing can come from nothing. I’m already fond of you, Mr. Languid…
JL: What? I’ve gotten the sense you don’t?
GB: I like everybody, Jeff. My children I care and appreciate for other reasons than liking them.
JL: Those would be?
GB: How long is your dick, Mr. Languid?
JL: What? That’s an outrageous question!
GB: Hold on, I have to scratch my ass.
JL: Much better. Now, what was your question? Oh, you wanted the number of my analyst…
JL: No, no, Mr. Bian…
GB: Please, call me Gishi. And try not to be a puppet. My hand is right in your sock. Let’s talk about Rock n Roll and the book of Esther.
JL: Now I’m very confused.
GB: Facts? You’ve wormed ’em outta me. First ya have ta write me a check. Or give me your debit card. I’ll need your PIN number. Or just throw me a wooden nickel on fire. A red one.
JL: You’re not making any sense.
GB: Did you expect me to? Sense is one of those words, Mr. Languid. A puppet word. Have you ever read Dadaistic poetry? Concrete poetry? They give you license, Jeff.
JL: License to what? And what are those, anyway?
GB: To be.
JL: Sorry, the camera man was laughing at me. I’m back.
GB: When will you arrive at all? Here, take a hit off this joint and relax a tad.
GB: Go ahead, I insist.
GB: A little more. You need to be a little stoned. The puppet may leave and Jeff will then be here.
JL: Why do you think we do anything, Gishi?
GB: Who is we?
GB: If you were in Japan, Oklahoma, Argentina, Somalia, Quebec, or on top of the Ural Mountains, it would vary.
JL: How do you mean?
GB: What? Am I the “Shell Answer Man?”
JL: (cough, cough)
JL: Inhale more delicately.
JL: You mean…
GB: Don’t suck on it like a vacuum.
JL: (chuckle, cough)
GB: Do you come from a single family? As in parents who divorced?
JL: Yes. Why do you ask?
GB: You lived with your mother?
JL: I think I’m done with this now (cough, cough). Here.
JL: What about my mother?
GB: What about her? How would I know? She was your mother, Jeff.
JL: I forgot what I was saying.
GB: You asked about my mother.
JL: Oh, yes. What did I ask?
GB: If she was a bitch.
JL: Oh, yes. was she?
GB: Why would you ask me such a thing?
JL: Let me look at my notes, Gishi. I feel a bit confused.
GB: That’s why we do things, Mr. Languid. Our mother’s psychoses.
JL: Let’s just go with that. Did your mother have an analyst?
GB: Here, write down Mom’s number…
JL: No, no. Her analyst.
GB: He’s dead. Shot himself in the mouth.
JL: Whoa. Why the mouth?
GB: The mouth is the entrance to the ship captain’s waste basket. If you don’t aim there you only find yellow dancing Wobblies.
JL: I know.
GB: What do you know, Jeff?
JL: The basket. I know a lot about those.
GB: Tell me about your father, Jeff.
JL: He was a bastard.
GB: Who told you?
JL: My mother. Said he paid her no money.
GB: What did he say?
JL: He said he did.
GB: What happened to your mom?
JL: She died with her foot in a yellow basket.
GB: That’s “Wobblies,” Mr. Languid. They were yellow.
JL: I hated my mother.
GB: Listen, I’m not your analyst, Jeff. I think that’s private information.
JL: Did you hate yours?
GB: She spent most of her time on her hands and knees scrubbing the decks of schooners. How could I hate a woman who had to do that for us?
GB: I previously said that one can believe only one quarter of what you hear.
JL: How does that fit in here?
GB: You’ve been listening, Mr. Languid, yes?
JL: Actually, no. I was thinking of my friend Chucky.
GB: Here, write this down.
GB: Are you ready?
GB: “I, Jeff Languid, am an idiot.”
(studio personnel break out laughing)
JL: Hey, I am an idiot!
GB: Who would have ever thought?
JL: I’ve been hearing it all my life!
Camera man: Jeff, are you alright?
JL: Sure, sure. I’m sure I am.
Camera man: Cut! let’s get Jeff a replacement.
Sound man: Two seconds… Okay, off sound.
JL: What’s going on?
GB: “That’s what she said,” Jeff.
JL: What? we were just getting somewhere…
(Jeff is carted off)
Camera man: Mr. Bian, anything left on that blunt?
GB: Sure, here. Do you have a light?
Camera man: I have one.
Station Manager: Mr. Bian, this is a serious enterprise here. Everclear Magazine has rented time here at Bashingtom Public Television. The editor of the magazine will be here soon to continue.
GB: Your name is? Or shall I call you, “Woman on Fire.”
SM: No, it’s Ms. Moon Whip Starling. Why do you say “on fire.”?
GB: Check your left foot, Moon.
Moon: It’s just fine, Mr. Bian.
GB: Unless you’d like that flame to reach your knee, Miss Starling, you’d best take this beer and put it out.
Ms. Starling: I would like sip.
GB: Here. Been a hard day?
GB: Who’s on top of you? I’m sorry. Who’d like to be?
Ms. Starling: Since I’m fat, no one. I’d like them to be.
GB: I have a mattress in my van. We could slip off for a moment. I like fat chics.
Ms. Starling: That surprises me. You, Gishi Bian, are quite handsome.
GB: I don’t like fat chics who lie. Why don’t you stop with the chips and Coke on the sofa?
Ms. Starling: I can’t. Plus, you arrived by limo.
GB: I lie.
Ms. Starling: I like men who lie.
GB: Here’s my private cell, 671-028-7826. I’d like to write a poem about you.
Ms. Starling: What would it be about?
GB: Fat chic goes for Arabian poet with one arm.
Ms. Starling: You have two arms.
GB: You thought your leg was on fire, too.
Ms. Starling: Could I have another sip on that beer?
GB: I have a case behind the couch here. would you like one?
Ms. Starling: yes, my leg is on fire.
GB: good reason. here.
Ms. Starling: thanks. Hmm.
Ms. Starling: the area code on your phone, was on Guam, per my cell. I understood you lived in Manhattan. on the East Side.
GB: looks like the Editor is here. nice being in your shorts, Ms. Starling. look for that poem, I’ll send you a copy.
Ms. Starling: they say you’re a sexist.
GB: define that in three words.
Ms. Starling: Ahhh…
GB: nice meeting you Moon Whip. oh, are you into planetary bondage? there are green whips on the dark side of the moon.
Mrs. Starling: how did you find out?
GB: I read it in People Magazine. everything in there is true.
Mrs. Starling: I’ve always thought so.
(Editor of Everclear enters)
Mrs. Starling: nice chatting, Mr. Bian. I’ll call.
GB: can’t wait. your arm is on fire now.
Editor: he’s “pulling your leg,” Ms. Starling.
Mrs. Starling: it burned off.
Editor (incredulously): what!?
Mrs. Starling: I’ll leave now.
GB: I hope she calls. and you are?
Editor: the editor of Everclear Magazine.
Editor: why? what did I do.
GB: here we go. please, tell me when we’re rolling.
Editor: okay, Mr. Bian…
GB: please, call me Gishi.
Editor: I’m Bilbo Dent.
GB: nice to meet you, Mr. Dent. how did you get that first name, Mr. Dent.
GB: no, Walter.
JL: excuse me?
GB: never mind, let’s begin, Walter.
GB: Of course, Bilbo. my dad’s name was Walter. you look like him.
JL: In what way?
GB: Same twisted cheeks and dripping eyes. Also, the pink shirt.
JL: May we start?
GB: Start what?
JL: Did your father have twisted cheeks and dripping eyes? Also, did he wear pink shirts?
GB: No. You do, Walter.
GB: Oh yes, Bilbo Dent. How did you come by the name, Bilbo?
JL: My uncle’s name was Charlie Billboard. It’s short for that.
GB: Have you read my poetry?
JL: Yes. who hasn’t.
GB: It hasn’t been translated into the Amazonian languages. I’m just a poet Mr. Dent. I write. I write what the snowflakes have written on them. I try not to write on purpose. I follow the muse. One line to the next. I have more poems that I’m bored with than you’ll ever see. The next will be about Ms. Starling being whipped mercilessly by her lesbian lover on the dark side of the moon while singing, “More, more.”
GB: Obviously you have not been clued in.
JL: To what?
GB: Never mind. I have to recall. You’re a billboard. They only signal what the guys paste up there.
JL: Mr. Bian, I’m the editor of Everclear Magazine here in the Backwash suburb of London. We paid you $30,000.00 to be here, paid the air-fare and all expenses.
GB: I always thought you Englishmen were less than optimal mentally.
JL: I’ll have you know I attended London University.
GB: and your other problems? I’m sure the Frenchman have convinced you there is no discernable truth therefore no known morality? And your girlfriend is Mr. Do-Dent.
JL: Wait a minute!?
GB: I have about an hour.
JL: There is no truth; it’s a settled issue.
GB: Now we have a starting point.
JL: And where would that be?
GB: You’re the questioner and vaulted editor, London educated.
GB: Sorry, I wandered into a track meet. There are pole vaulters with kangaroo legs.
JL: There’s no such thing…
GB: I see one behind you.
(Mr. Dent looks)
GB: See. I told you.
JL: Are you crazy?
GB: My Analyst tells me so.
JL: I would agree.
GB: Truth is, Mr. Dent, you just discovered truth.
JL: And it…
GB: You just accused me of insanity…
JL: No, I…
GB: Excuse me. Let me continue. You looked for the pole vaulter. Therefore, because I said it, you looked. either I am a reservoir of fantastical knowledge, or your easily fooled. Which is it? which is true? One has to be. If there is no truth, it cannot be determined nor put forth. You’re probably a philosophy major who’s lost his mind or you’re using it to misbehave.
GB: Do you believe in a discernable right and wrong?
JL: No. What’s right for me is right for me. For you, you.
GB: Now I know whom I’m speaking with. Let’s switch back to dandelions drooping on a June petal in Winter – while the Queen waits.
JL: Waits for what?
GB: There you go again, Mr. Billboad.
JL: Mr. Dent, please.
GB: I like Billboard better, don’t you?
JL: I thought we were talking about your father.
GB: Yes, I had one. He was a thief, molester and a con.
JL: Let’s talk about that. It seems it would be significant.
GB: So you, too, want my analyst’s number. Here, 871…
JL: No, no. That’s not necessary, Mr. Bian. We convinced you to do the first interview of your career. Our readers want very much to know about you. We don’t even know where you were born. By the way, that’s not a Manhattan exchange.
GB: I lie. I said earlier, to Mr. Languid, that I was born in a hospital. If I was born in 1360 AD would you want the midwife’s address? Please, explain the significance of that?
GB: I was born in North Carolina in 1956. What does that tell you? Nothin.
GB: You’re Londoner. And by the way, I have an appointment in Exeter in two hours. A woman there runs a Hostel with her husband and she wants me to check out one of the back rooms.
JL: How did you meet her?
GB: In Mexico.
JL: Wouldn’t that be adultery?
GB: She wanted to show me her etchings. Your mind is racing, Mr. Billdent.
JL: That’s Mrs. Billboard, no, Mr. Dent.
GB: Sorry, Billboad. Your signage is showing.
GB: Never mind. My father was a soldier and my mother an heiress. He got her pregnant and some arrangement was made. Regardless, they were eventually married. My entire family is Roman Catholic. I wanted to be a priest. Obviously, that did not come to fruition. I now live in Manhattan with my wife Cecelia Banntenfort. She’s from Buffalo, New York. I met her at a poetry reading, years back. My first wife I met in California and she hates me. Do you find that believable?
JL: Yes! Go on.
GB: I knew you were a philosopher. No, she was a batterer. I married my father. It’s complicated. Eventually I split, and found Cecelia. Been married 22 years. The nice thing about her is that she doesn’t throw things at me or tip over the tall glass knick-knack holders with porcelain figurines on them. Mind you, I have no use for porcelain figurines.
JL: Go on.
GB: I was poisoned by the water on the military installation in North Carolina and contracted an indolent form of Leukemia.
JL: Thank goodness.
GB: Yes. Though various medical problems plague my existence…
JL: There are others?
GB: Let me just get out what I can get out, so I can depart to look at closely at Mrs. Meriweather’s etchings.
JL: Fine. Excuse me, Mr. Bian.
GB: I’ve never given interviews because I dislike banter with those wishing to slather over the personal details of a writer’s life. I will say that, by theme, all of what I’ve said so far is in fact true. Except for Cecilia. Her name is Beatrice. I write poetry because I’m allowed. I started in 1966 in a small New England town after a particularly unpleasant moment with my mother. She was convinced of some travesty on my part and my father was soon arriving home to assault me. At her behest he’d do anything. Lysistrata, the play by Aristophanes? You recall how the women stopped the fighting? Right?
JL: Yes. Well, I’ll take your word for it.
GB: My mother’s tactic was the same – only used it to manipulate my father.
JL: You mean she withheld sexual favors in return for his compliance?
GB: To my despair. My first poem was a one of escape. I was 10. It was 1966 while looking out the bay window in the living room of our home. It had a ledge one could sit on and gaze out. I discovered that in writing I felt less fear. Also, I found it to have been inventive and pleasing and that God was with me.
JL: Yes. Are you able to say more on that?
GB: Only to underline that writing pleases me, still. We all have fears. They just change.
JL: I’m sorry to have heard these things.
GB: You think you are…
JL: No, Mr. Bian, I am.
GB: Have we bumped into a pole vaulter with kangaroo legs?
JL: It seems we have, Mr. Bian…
GB: Please, use Gishi.
GB: You see, Mr. Billboard…
JL: I’ll let that pass.
GB: I believe in kindness because of the lack of it (outside of this damnable interview). In principle, kindness is why Beatrice and I coexist. That’s all I’ll say about Beatrice.
My children I could talk a bit about. My former wife and I had two wonderful children. Both are young men now. Accomplished and following their heart. One speaks to me and the other does noes not – presently. The reasons for that are unknown to me. His courage will build as he becomes a man. It has to do with the present complications within the LGBT community and their supporters of which he is a staunch one. His life is laudable. He’s brilliant and has few peers unless you check with Mensa. He was a superlative swimmer, leading him into a career where he now excels.
JL: Your other child?
GB: Yes. the other son. We maintain regular and amicable relations despite the efforts to dissuade him by his mother. He’s much like his brother. Both were Eagle Scouts and successfully completed graduate degrees from fine universities here in the States. The younger is soon to have a family of his own. I find that, well,
Life is complex, Mr. Board. Or Billboard. Sorry.
JL: Just call me Bilbo.
JL: Of course.
JL: I, too, find life complex. I say I am an atheist, but I often have second thoughts.
GB: An honest comment.
JL: Thanks, Gishi.
JL: Sure, Bilbo.
GB: Anyway, my children are young men able to decide things for themselves. Just as a sheet pinned to a clothesline blowing in the summer breeze on a yellow Tuesday afternoon. We move within the confines of our reality.
JL: I believe I understand.
JL: We’ll stop here.
GB: Thank you. I need to sit on the Bay Window shelf a bit and write on the way back in the Limo and across the pond to Manhattan. Then walk a while. I think I’ll skip Exeter. I’m thinking of the crags standing strong against centuries of the Atlantic’s wild shore crashing against them, in the deep of winter. Yet they stand.
Mr. Dent: Cut. Spot off. Studio lights up. We’re done here. May we have another round in Manhattan?
GB: Sure, anytime, Billboard. Any particular dent you wish to hear of. Any. Send Ms. Moon, though. I do like fat chics. If Beatrice is not around.
Mr. Dent: Come on?
GB: You should fly over. Sounds like a vacation in the States might help.
Mr. Dent: It would. What was the name of that Hostel in Exeter?
(Director climbs on stage)
Porter Woods: (clap, clap, clap) That’s a wrap, folks. Dress is tomorrow. Be here by 4 PM.
Porter’s assistant: What ever happened with the guy anyway? In his bio it said he had six daughters. Lived to be 96. His wife outlived him. Kay, yes. Kay.
Kay was the daughter of a Chemical Company owner. He and Kay lived near the cranberry bogs of central Cape Cod. They had 8 great-grandchildren. All there when he died. I got to thinking. He must of been a good fella to have known such a recluse. I heard he kept up correspondence with a guy he knew from kindergarten.
His poetry, though, if it’s made accessible, it’s only by virtue of his occasional efforts to have it be. He did not write to be understood, nor ever explained one poem. Except very occasionally.
Porter’s assistant: I’ll get the Stage Manager ready for tomorrow with your notes. You did say to warm it up slightly on the lights. You did, didn’t you?
Porter’s Assistant: Loosen up, Porter. It’s just a short play about a flippin’ poet.
Porter Woods: Yea. Sure. Ah, umm, yes. I’ve got to get home to Mrs. Woods, Anne. Just enough time to catch dinner with her. And I’d like to.
Porter’s Assistant: (Porter slowly exits behind the curtain) Alright then, I’ll just have it warmed up.
Hope I get paid. I have a mortgage to keep. Damn. Being an atheist does nothin’ for me.
– gishi bian
21 January 2016
7:07.pm mst usa
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