Lisa Martinovic: Fare Thee Well, Brenda | Street Jazz

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lisa Martinovic: Fare Thee Well, Brenda

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 3:57 PM

Lisa Martinovic has written a beautiful tribute to Brenda Moossy, which she has given kind permission to reprint here.  What follows in an excerpt; the remainder can be found at Lisa’s website, given below.

All the poems and excerpts in this piece were written by Brenda Moossy.

“What if……
I stare at the heavens and the sky cracks wide?”
Angels could slip through in the blinding.
Stars rip from the firmament
form letters words prophecies of light
No matter
No matter
I will watch for the miracles to fall.
I want to see the stars, Mister.
I got to see the stars.

from "What I Said to the Man Installing the Hot Tub"

Those are the words, the inimitable poetic voice, of Brenda Moossy: poet, slammer, mother, nurse, extraordinary soul, and beloved friend.

There will be no more poems from Brenda. She's gone on to dazzle the heavens. For the earthbound, she left a body of work that deserves to be treasured for as long as people treasure poetry.

Brenda Joyce Moossy was born on January 21, 1949, in the small east Texas bayou town of Gladewater. She was the youngest child and only daughter of Lebanese immigrants who raised her up to be a good Catholic girl. Instead, Brenda harvested her strange and fertile roots to create poetry of stunning power and originality: she became a conjure woman of her own making.

In my prime,
I could make a creek run backwards.
I could steal food from out a buzzard’s beak
an’’ if my skin turned silver enough,
I could even fly.
I could stalk a winter sun thru naked forests,
screeching the song of the peregrine.
My legs were strong of bone.
My toes would splay flat on cold, wet ground
leaf and mud would cling
to my feet like fussy babies.

from "Legend"

Like many of us who came of age in the 50s and 60s, Brenda fled home as soon as she could chart her escape route. It was 1967, the fall after the Summer of Love, when Brenda lit out for Austin to attend the University of Texas. Freed from the expectations she was born to, she thrilled to the social liberation and political tumult of the times, discovered feminism and drugs, became a hippie. Brenda took a certain pride in telling people that she flunked out three times——because “the streets were far more interesting than the classrooms.”

The adventure migrated to rural Arkansas where Brenda and a group of friends formed the Blunderosa Commune and attempted to live off the land. They lasted about five months.

“We didn’t have a clue as to what we were doing,” said Brenda about this chapter of her life. The locals would drive up to the commune fence just for the entertainment of watching the hippies bungle their daily activities. Thus humbled, the hippies moved back to town.

Brenda settled in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and resumed her formal education at the University of Arkansas, intent on becoming a doctor. When pregnancy intervened, Brenda accelerated her studies to graduate with a degree in nursing and life as a single mom.

Her son, Peter, has always been the precious centerpoint of her life. Those of us who knew them both could always feel the immense love and respect between them. Peter is now married to Jennifer Price, and the father of Jacob, 4, and Eli, 1. The grandchildren that Brenda adored, and with whom she had so little time, called her Sittie, an Arabic term of endearment for grandmother.    

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