Oh Moses, Moses


It’s true. I did make Nick, Toni, and Gary watch The Ten Commandments on Easter Sunday. I later found out that the networks aired it the same day. How eerie is that? Must be a voice-of-god thing.

It has been one of my favorite movies since I was a kid, and along with Busby Berkeley soundtracks I heard on the oldies station (before 50s meant oldies), it was one of the major factors in developing my aesthetics, which resemble nothing so much as those of an older gay man (e.g. Kenward Elmslie, the poet with whose sensibility I believe I feel the most sympatico). I remember how excited my mom got when it came to the scene of the parting of the Red Sea — “Look, look!” she said. I still love in particular the scene where the sheik’s daughters are throwing their hair around to entertain the traders in the caravan, and everything about the golden calf party scene.

In my third chapbook, Lip (1988, voces puerulae press), I included three poems that addressed the film — or more properly, Exodus and Mosaic law via the film. I really love these poems, and kindly quote them for you here:

god, huh

only the father of a
wand

only the wander of a seer

only the brisk bangi ng harm

of open ing your ear

*

who is blame?

The children
of Israel
went astray in
the desert and
worshipped
the golden calf.

They were threatened
with severe
retribution
and Moses
interceded
on their be-
half.

*

law

I want to say I love you but the words get in the way

Helmets and billy clubs.
Dot matrix tongue.

Fixed monoliths constantly erasing
the attempted carved thought.
Brilliantly accessed chemical
reactions stopped
at a road block, let’s see your id.

The theory behind it pushes against the rocks, press-
ing the old woman whose job it is to grease them in
between. Moses saves her just in time. It turns out
she’s his mother.

Would you stop to save the life of every slave. I want
to say I love you, but first you must make bricks with
no straw (Pharaoh, how can he make bricks with no
straw?) I want to say I love you, but I’ve seen the
burning bush and sprayed white paint in my fake
beard. I want to say I love you, but my breath is
garlic and my skin is not white like the Egyptian
women. Oh Moses Moses, you poor sweet adorable
fool Moses.

Look: fascinating Ten Commandments trivia!

And guess who Moses’ wife became in a later incarnation?

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One thought on “Oh Moses, Moses

  1. I would definitely recommendGreen Pastures, the black Ten Commandments. Infinitely Coolerand Funkier than the White Ten Commandments.Watch it and be floored by pure genius!!!They Ain’t nuthin’ meaner than killin’ da babies, Pharuh..Putchabrainonit!

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