By Danielle Ferrara
Bellyn is tall, with curly hair. He wears fur hats and big canvas shoes. I didn’t know what his gender was when I met him. He was doing Art History. He started groaning in Photo Booth and put his videos on YouTube and soon in spite of his manic depression and schizophrenia (or maybe because of it) he suddenly had a following that separated and came together repeatedly like summer ants on a banana. His fan following is, for the most part, mischievous, all of the people in it laughing and making those scurrying noises you hear in cartoons. They go everywhere his band goes. The Bowdry in Brooklyn, the Cave in Portland. He barely talks to me anymore.
His talent developed extraordinarily quickly. I asked him once, at the beginning of this, in a frank tone: “Since when do you play the keyboard?” I was staring at the keyboard that lay on his lap. It was mine. It was an old keyboard, dirty with a key broken. Surely he wasn’t better at it than I was. I thought he had never played before. I knew him so well. My vintage records never interested him. My bopping around to indie, to classical, he always got antsy, pulling his hair off his forehead straight up so that it hurt. He’d play with his iPhone and ignore me, scrolling through lists of filtered pictures, turning the television on so I’d pout. Yet somehow now he was playing minor notes with rising hills of cutesy major chords. Each melody debased the next, breaking my spine. It was beautiful. So much emotion. I’d been trying to make an album for years. Oddly enough I was in a band called Vengeance.
He stole my dream.
In the weeks before his communication tapered off he told me that college girls would catch up with him after shows, in red glasses and silk shorts, and ask him questions. Cameras around their necks, big luminous eyes. That’s all I can imagine.
I went to one show. Just one. Julian went with me, for moral support. Julian and I had left Vengeance shortly after college and we were doing things as a two-piece band. Those seem to be in fashion nowadays. Julian had become my best friend, at this point; he had finally come out to me and we were closer for it. Watching Bellyn moan and shriek with gold stars on his eyes broke my heart over and over again—the drummer was a girl, she was standing up instead of sitting down—every harsh beat was like a rock thrown in thick water, hurting my ears in the most pleasant of ways, crashing with a foot-stomp, and I wasn’t up there. I was watching them. The music wound me up and I wanted to be a part of it but I’d somehow been cast out in secret. I didn’t understand.
When the last song started I recognized a melody I’d written sophomore year of college and I went to get a drink.
When I came back the crowd was sprawling out. I went through the empty spaces looking for Julian. I felt like a worm burrowing through the blackest dirt. The Cave floor. It watched me back. Then I realized it’d been a long time. I couldn’t find Julian anywhere and I had refused to try to make my way backstage (I did have a pass); a few girls were sitting on the stage with their backs to it, passing cigarettes back and forth. I thought that was illegal.
After half an hour I left. I felt strangled and my bones were sore with lactic acid. Julian called me late that night; he had gone backstage, thinking I’d follow (he had a pass too), and he ended up talking to Bellyn for a while. They had known each other in college but not very well. It just didn’t occur to either of them that they had shared interests. That’s what it’s like at art school.
Dani Ferrara is a poet, bandmate, philosopher, teacher and pseudo-scientist living in Denver, CO. She helped conspire collective.off and received her MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Her work can be found in Dream Pop Press, The Dependent, and Something on Paper and is forthcoming in Black Sun Lit and swift & slows. [[[Daniferrarapoet.com]]]