by Scot Young
Many of us look back at our bios once they are printed and wish for a retraction. The freshness or cleverness of the time turns into the same cranked out shit. This interview needed a unique introduction for the lady who screams pussy to the world. Not the same old recycled crap of she did this after she did that. Not another list of credits either. I needed to crawl into the mind of Misti, look out her eyes and say hey fuckers this is Misti Rainwater-Lites. But who can really do that and make it believable. So, I asked her for something tender, something outrageous, something totally different. I got this.
Misti Rainwater-Lites is a cracked teapot. She has tried to sell herself on eBay but nobody wants to bid on a bat shit crazy broke ass poet who has one mixed media painting to her name. The title of the painting was Screaming Pussy but is now Crazy With The Cheez Whiz. Misti is currently working on a comedic pornographic horror script with Matt Finney and Michael Lites tentatively titled “White Trash Werewolf” with Evan Stone, the best porn star on the planet, in mind. Misti will not give blow jobs for publication credits but she might send you a lipsticked autographed copy of one of her many self-published books because she’s ditzy like that. If you would like to purchase a collection of 63 PEZ dispensers that includes Yoda (Misti’s favorite) and a bunch of other exciting characters, contact Misti at firstname.lastname@example.org. Misti is also selling metal lunchboxes, Barbie dolls and collages at rock bottom (with the depressed American economy in mind) prices. Misti is interested in writing children’s books, teaching tap dance lessons to little gay boys and learning how to box so she can beat people up and get paid for it. Misti also dreams of someday reading her poems in rainbow sequins at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Speaking of rainbows, Misti also dreams of someday owning a retro motor court somewhere in the Land of Enchantment called Inn of the Rainbow, which will include a honeymoon suite for gays only. Misti will conduct gay marriage ceremonies at the motel. She will get her license online.
Scot: What is a Misti Rainwater-Lite poem?
Misti: The smart ass short answer is “a poem written by Misti Rainwater-Lites.” Two words tend to come up a lot when other people describe my poems: confessional and insane. I’ve come up
with a new word to describe my poems. That word is “crucifried.” That is me being cute and playful with the English language. Most of my poems are spicy extra crunchy crucifried, like what you might find at Popeye’s if Jesus had been a chicken. People might read this interview and think that I think I am Jesus. No. I do not think I am Jesus. I do not think I’m a chicken. I think I’m a survivor who throws a mean pity party. I think I’m a crazed clown banned from the birthday party circuit. I think I could never hold down a job at Popeye’s because I would eat all the chicken and mashed potatoes and biscuits and would not get along well with the other employees and would give the customers too much change. Also, I would call in sick a lot.
Scot: A lot of male poets list Bukowski as an influence. Who first inspired you to write poetry?
Misti: I first started writing poems in my Snoopy diary when I was nine but those poems rhymed and went on about rainbows and unicorns. In college I wrote poems influenced by Jim Morrison. I cannot name one lasting strong influence. I guess lately I’ve been most influenced by Anne Sexton just because for the past couple of years I’ve kept going back to her poems. I’ve got almost all her books. I’ve bought more books by Anne Sexton than any other poet, with the
exception of Bukowski. I don’t like to talk about Bukowski. He’s received more than enough press.
Scot: Do you mark your successes as writer?
Misti: I crow about my successes. I brag. I self-promote. In many ways I’m still the insecure kid begging my mom to watch me cartwheel or jump off the diving board. I feel successful when someone asks me to be on their radio show. I feel successful when someone publishes a book for me. My small press success is pretty much the best I can hope for. The world is not banging on my door. Oprah still hasn’t invited me to sit on her couch. I’ve slept on Christopher Robin’s couch. Thus, I am successful.
Scot: What makes a good poem? Do you have a feeling when you know you got it right?
Misti: I know I’m onto something when I can feel my face burning and my hands shaking as I type it out or when I’m laughing out loud or when snot pours from my nose and tears pour from my eyes as my fingers fly. If I read one of my poems and it leaves me numb or apathetic how the hell can I expect a complete stranger to get anything from it? I appreciate and adore all kinds of poems. I like poems that play around with the English language and take risks but don’t make you scratch your head so hard that your scalp bleeds. I like narrative poems that don’t make me say,”So? Thanks for the page from your diary. Now what the hell am I supposed to do? Wipe my ass with it?” I like craft. I like complexity. I like poems that don’t preach (I’ve been guilty of writing those) or offer easy, pat answers.
Scot: I have had some female poets tell me, I wish I had the balls to write like Misti. So tell me…what does it take?
Misti: I’ve received that compliment before and it always confuses me. I guess my tragic flaw is that I’m like Ally Sheedy in “The Breakfast Club.” I pour my purse/heart out and invite the whole world inside. I don’t think,”I can’t dump the contents of my purse out in front of these strangers! I’ve got tampons and Polaroids of my bush in there! Eek!” Some people have told me that I’m brave. I really don’t think I am. I am simply sharing my experiences and my insights, the horror and glory of my life, the best way I know how. I’m not an extrovert. I’m extremely reserved. I put it all on the page. A girl I’d “known” online for years through a poetry community called me on the phone once and was shocked when she heard my voice. She said,”You are not what I expected.” I asked her what she’d expected. She said,”I don’t know…combat boots?” I was in the Army for a few months, by the way. People are always surprised when I tell them that.
Scot: Has motherhood changed the way you look at life or poetry?
Misti: Motherhood has made me more mindful of boundaries and time. I’ve never had much tolerance for bullshit. Since giving birth I’ve discovered that I have zero tolerance for bullshit. The women in my family tend to give to the point of depletion. The only female relative of mine who refused to give everything away was my great-grandmother, Marie Crenshaw. Mamaw Crenshaw would testify from her recliner in her trailer house, a can of beer (or in later years a Coca-Cola) in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I remember the time she told me about her second husband, about how he hit her once and she took off her high heel and gave him a black eye with it. My grandmother, Mamaw Crenshaw’s daughter, would coddle me and the other grandkids and sugar coat stuff for us. Mamaw Crenshaw didn’t play that. I had more respect for her than any other person, man or woman, I’ve ever met. I am fiercely protective of my son. I am also fiercely protective of myself. I touch on this in my latest chapbook, The Kitchen is Closed, published by Jack Henry of d/e/a/d/b/e/a/t press. If people don’t get me, I don’t hand them Cliff Notes. I don’t have time for that. The people who do get me are the ones I work on maintaining relationships with.
Scot: What books do you buy/read?
Misti: I prefer to buy small press books but sometimes I buy mainstream books, like Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield. I just finished reading that book. It depressed all hell out of me. I love anything by Christopher Robin and Joe Pachinko, two of my favorite writers and human beings in general. I buy poetry books almost exclusively but I’ve gotten into Chuck Klosterman lately. He cracks me up.
Scot: How important is marketing to the success of a poet?
Misti: I’d say marketing is pretty damn important if a poet wants to actually sell books. I’ve tried MySpace and blogspot to minimal success. I’ve done the guerilla thing. I’ve left business cards and poems of mine in mainstream poetry books in used bookstores and chain bookstores. I’ve sent letters to various magazines. I’ve sold chaps at readings. My next idea is to buy an ice cream van and paint my blogspot url and some of my book titles on the sides. I’ll drive around blaring cds of myself reading my poems. I’ll sell my books, copies of Instant Pussy, sex toys and Atomic Fire Balls.
Scot: Does the sense of place/location influence your work?
Misti: I’ve discovered an ebullient resilient geography within myself. Texas and New Mexico have
crucifried me. Or have I crucifried myself? Maybe if I’d lived in Alaska and Oregon my poems would be the same. I know when I lived in Albuquerque I got goddamn sick and tired of the provincial poetry that saturates the scene there. I would drag my husband to the readings and apologize to him afterward. We would have fun making fun of all the chile pepper/coyote/curandera poems. I’m not talking about a specific ethnic group, either. All kinds of Albuquerque poets wax poetic about the New Mexican landscape. Albuquerque is the most gorgeous, culturally rich place I’ve ever lived. I’m now living in an ugly toxic culturally bereft town that brings to mind the shit smear on Satan’s shorts but I’m writing the same kind of poems here that I wrote in Albuquerque.
Scot: Print or online?
Misti: I don’t like online for numerous reasons. I prefer print. It’s easier on my eyeballs and I like taking books with me wherever I go.
Scot: What makes Misti laugh?
Misti: I have a weird sense of humor. I have never been a big fan of “South Park” or “The Simpsons.” I don’t like most of the crap on Comedy Central. I laugh at scary movies that aren’t supposed to be funny. I laugh at pompous, ridiculous people, like the guy in Albuquerque who in all seriousness read a poem in a kilt and a Scottish brogue. I laugh at myself. I’m ridiculous.
Scot: What was your first published piece?
Misti: My first published piece was a poem called Morning Musings. It was published in the campus literary magazine when I was enrolled at Southwest Texas State University. I won over a hundred bucks for that poem (don’t recall the exact amount) and the Gates-Thomas Excellence in English Award. I didn’t know I’d won until Tuesday morning when I showed up at my British-American poetry class and the professor congratulated me. The awards banquet was the previous Friday night. I missed out because I was hiding from the world in my dorm with a disconnected phone.
Scot: What is it to be an underground poet?
Misti: It’s a bit of a tease. If you achieve any amount of success as a small press poet you might, if you’re me, trick yourself into thinking you’re a rock star like Ronnie James Dio. I’m not David Lee Roth. Not everyone has heard of me. The people who have heard of me bow down to me saying,”We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” They buy my $35 t-shirt and say everything they know they learned from me. I’m being facetious. I’m only semi-famous and that’s only online and among prisoners, thanks to Christopher Robin and Bran Scam. To be an underground poet is to be a fan of masturbation, basically.
Scot; Do you see a gender bias when it comes to being published?
Misti: I don’t see a gender bias.
Scot: What is the next project?
Misti: I don’t know what I’ll come up with next at lulu.com. I’m writing poems for Bill Shute of Kendra Steiner Editions that won’t be published until next July. He asked me to pick my favorite month for a project he’s putting together next year. I told him that October is my favorite month (because autumn is my favorite season and Halloween is my favorite holiday) but July inspires me more poetry wise, for some reason. Next Exit: Ten will be published by KSE later this year. I’ve got a 69 flip chap coming out on Tainted Coffee Press. Justin Hyde will be on the other side. I can’t wait to see how that turns out. I’ve got a full-length poetry collection coming out on Tainted Coffee Press called Cuntasaurus Rex. Rawr!
Scot: How did Instant Pussy come about?
Misti: Ever since I heard that Harvey Danger song in 1999 I’ve told myself,”Yeah, I wanna publish zines, too. That sounds cool.” In 2005 I discovered Zen Baby. Then I met this crazy Hoosier online. He wanted to put together a zine with me. I moved too fast for him. I published my first Instant Pussy in December of 2005 with much help from my husband. We put it together at Kinko’s. Instant is because I reply to submissions with a quickness. Pussy is because I used pornographic images. Instant Pussy just sounds right. Of course everyone knows pussy is never instant. Pussy takes time.
Scot: What advice have you been given as a poet?
Misti: I haven’t been given much advice. Christopher Robin sent me some poems once for Instant Pussy and wrote something like,”If they don’t bleed, send ’em back.” That has stuck with me. Poems should bleed.
Misti: Oh fuck. I’m stumped. Shit. Let me go through my files. My son needs a bath and I need a beer. Okay. Here ya go. This is a long motherfucker. I published it as a chap at lulu.com. It’s called :
red white and blue rectangles
over the parking lots
junked out with decal plastered
hunks of shiny metal
…I must be in Texas, America…
I’m sitting in the air-conditioned
haven of my mother’s white car
I am listening to soft rock
I am crying
I am trying to strengthen myself
for Wal-Mart Supercenter
Texas America is not at fault
for any of this
this 35 year old mess
in a thrift shop t-shirt
purchased in 2004
made in the 1980s
that was when
the New Kids on the Block
were most popular
Daddy your raincloud girl is bloated
Mom your eldest is in a panic
when can parents
in good conscience
what will I do
when you are both dead
and there are no more barriers
and God’s immaculate yawn?
right at this static moment
you are both alive
and I am alive
and I am doggy paddling
in this salty little sea
not much changes
the struggle to survive
goes on and on ad nauseam
much like a Bee Gees record
that keeps skipping
“stayin’ alive! stayin’ alive! stayin’ alive!”
staying alive slays me
taking plastic spare change bloated
bags to the store
hoping to find an operating Coin Star machine
hoping to have enough
for milk/bread/cookies, maybe
the sun is exploring my skin
steep some tea and make yourself
at home, motherfucker
thanks for the memories
sun spot souvenirs
from living a mile closer
to you, Goddess Sun, for five
glorious hellish delicious grotesque years
Goddess Sun you are my mama
always prying into my business
my pet name for you is Cindy
for spring break I want to take myself
alone to Portland or Peru
I want to make love to the moon
and create a black sheet blue bulb cave
that hums like a spaceship
floating aimless through an infinity of stars
but right this very cherry nOw
(just realized how fat the “o” in “now” is…)
(and wOw…how OW is now!)
I am quite stuck
I am in a box
surrounded on all sides
by jalapeno juice dripping barbed wire
imagine the scratch
imagine the burn
bravery has nada to do with it
I am not dumb enough
to attempt escape
imagination is what I got
I am afraid of variables, possibilities
I have broken bread with the variables
I have finger fucked the possibilities
a million and one crumbs later
I am what you might call cautious
a thousand cum stains since
I am what you might call careful
but is that the truth?
you see I am the veteran of cups
you see I am the court jester of hearts
yes love to me is free like confetti like candy
I am not a hippie
although I do believe in astrology
and I do appreciate candles
and omens and symbology
and the Doors
especially “The Crystal Ship”
and “The Soft Parade”
but I’m not that kind
I’m not earth mama benevolent
I’m not kind to the Earth
and blatantly stupid people
my heart is NOT:
Come on in! The gang’s all here!
Here’s a bowl. Here’s a bed.
We’re all God’s sugar cookies!
I dig your sprinkles!
but my heart IS:
than I could ever hope to be!
your style doth shine!
you’re the most brilliant writer
I’ve ever read! You should be PUBLISHED!
you should be AVAILABLE
in Barnes & Noble!
FUCK! I want to get naked
and crawl inside your BRAIN!
…I’m that kind of slut…
…I’m that kind of whore…
…I am not true…
…I am not faithful…
…I am not mentally monogamous…
…the world is filled with brilliant pens…
oh hell…write all over me, that’s my fantasy!
me! naked! in YOUR bed!
covered in your words
scrawled all over with your genius
I am stuck inside my own box.
I am living small in Misti World.
I eat cardboard cake.
I lick my finger and stick it out.
Hmmm…looks like rain.
The claps of thunder are to be expected.
I was born and will die tornado dizzy.
The thing is…I’m a witch.
I created a candy house smack dab
in the middle of Diabetes Forest.
I specialize in impulsive decisions.
I don’t think things through.
Nobody wants to blister their
sweet gingerbread tummies
in my witchy poo oven!
Lots of brimstone verbiage up in that bitch!
Ouch ouch ouch…no sugar daddy
on this planet can withstand that brand.
The brand is me.
I have created my own brand.
I am a kooky smeared unapologetic
circus casino survivor.
I lack the clarity and ooh pretty pretty
of a kaleidoscope.
My colors are not separate pristine
but fucking tangled incoherent
jumbled messy sloppy mixed…CONFUSED.
Welcome to my mindfuck where it is
kindergarten recess sack lunch scissors
paste mosaic plastic beads wooden blocks
all the day long…until it is Philosophy 101
until it is Theology Paint By Numbers
until it is Get in Touch With Your Inner
Pilgrim until it is Connubial Blistered
followed by the usual America is Powerful
and So Are You So Lose Twenty Pounds
Stay Married For The Kids Color Inside
The Dotted Lines And Be Happy Goddammit
The coffee sucks.
The coffee is instant.
The cups are Styrofoam.
The sweetener is artificial.
The powdered cream is yuck.
And the banter!
God and all his tipsy cloud puking angels
SAVE ME FROM THE SEMINAR BANTER!!!
“Do you have any kids?”
“Where do you work?”
“Have you seen that new magic show in Vegas?”
“Do you have the new Celine Dion cd?”
“Who do you think will win ‘American Idol’?”
I’m a snob but I do not speak French
and I don’t have the Presidents memorized
and I never played an instrument…successfully.
Also: I buy purses and panties from Wal-Mart.
Here I am at Wal-Mart.
There is a full circle here.
I began at Wal-Mart and am back there
sitting crying trying in my mother’s white car.
“It’s too late baby now it’s too late…”
oooh I hate this fucking song.
Where are the Pet Shop Boys
when I need them most.
I need some witty gay optimism.
Happiness is an option. Indeed.
I can go West.
Problem(s) solved. Neatly.
I really would be happy with life
if I lived in San Francisco.
The Mission district appeals to me.
I want to see rainbow flags but I don’t
want to have to live in the Castro
to see them.
The Castro is too rich for my blood.
Too many boutiques, not nearly
enough drag queens.
I want the parade.
I want to star in it.
I have drag queen envy.
I’m not a lesbian but I love looking
at truly beautiful (not plastic fake trying
too hard) women.
I want to be that kind of woman.
The kind of woman who does not exert
too much effort.
The kind of woman who can walk
around naked but chooses not to.
I want to inspire Sting songs.
I want to inspire Robert Lowell poems.
The trouble is Sting is married to his muse.
The trouble is Robert Lowell is dead.
I can be all blustery bravado and bullshit
my way into heaven by saying:
I shall write my own songs!
I shall write my own poems!
The trouble is I am musically challenged.
The trouble is I have written too many poems.
Chiefly, the problem is me myself I.
I want to take myself out of the equation.
I don’t want myself in the batter.
I turn as always to my maroon King James
Rainbow Study Bible for inspiration.
This book was written centuries prior
to my conception! Yes!
There is no Misti to be found in either Testament!
I like the lions roaring in the Bible.
I like the people fearing.
I like the old men believing.
I like the young women stirring shit up.
My kind of nigga.
My bag of Cheetos.
If life is a sandwich I want all of the above
in between two slices of rye.
No condiments necessary.
I can chew chew chew my way
into Kingdom Cum.
Evan Stone will be there.
He will be standing at the amethyst onyx gate.
He will be wearing a black silk robe.
As I approach Evan Stone crucifried
extra crunchy slathered all over
with funky plum and pomegranate sauce
the robe will fall and reveal
an appreciable erection that is singing
Misti is Worthy
Misti is Home
Misti Can Get Up On It
I Said GODDAMN
Get Your Fine White Eternally
Salacious Ass On Over Here, Sexy Thang!
I will get up on it.
I will wrap my legs around Mr. Stone
and take take take
what is so freely given.
But I said I wanted to take myself out.
But I changed my mind.
I can be in the equation so long as it includes
eternal sex with Evan Stone.
I can be in the equation if I am allowed
to Etch A Sketch away the senseless
doodles of my clumsy finger life.
I can be in the equation if given
a license to provoke rhyme
and slaughter reason.
I like myself inside my intent.
I love myself wrapped in desire.
There are hidden things, jewels,
Cracker Jack prizes, Happy Meal toys
I can’t quite grasp.
Who am I, finally?
What am I doing on this planet?
Why am I here?
How brightly am I allowed/supposed to shine?
Well. I can tap dance on rock bottom.
I’ve said that before.
I throw pebbles at stained glass windows.
The pebbles turn into Hello Kitty cupcakes.
That, too, has been said but in a slightly
I don’t have much to recommend
but I walk the mile regardless.
I invite myself to the banquet.
I don’t beg for crumbs.
I don’t ask, “Where am I supposed to sit?”
I sit at the head of the table.
I help myself to the prime rib
and mashed potatoes.
I take the cake.
I eat the cake like I’m starving.
I lick frosting from my fingers.
I can hear the whispers and titters.
I pretend like it’s all applause
egging me on.
This is how I shine.
I’ll stop shining as soon as I
am ready for the shadows.
Right this poisonous berry now
I am out of the box on a smoke break.
I don’t smoke so I’m fuming instead.
I’m breaking plates over the heads of
all the spit polished pretenders.
They have been invited.
Love is requited on their playground.
Somebody is always there to swing
them to the clouds
and spin them dizzy with delight
on the merriest go round.
The dolls at my tea party agree.
I’m the hottest bitch in town.
I wish their mouths weren’t sewn shut.
I wish they could hug me back.
I wish they were equipped
with applause meters.
I manufacture my own hype.
I am the believer in me.
You can call me trickster zero.
You can call me waifwifewonderblah.
You can call me wackadoodle poodle.
You can call me waa waa wack sheep.
Just call me, darling.
My number should be carved in stone.
I’m greedy for the tawny
I give good hum.
I give good dumb.
I give good tingle.
I give good jingle.
I can play.
I can pretend.
I can be the decoration
in your dead sea.
Let me be
your anemone in state.
I will never be sated.
You should enjoy
that for a while.
I hope the weather forecast
does not include me.
I’m tired of being the tornado
that ruins picnics.
Let me be the rainbow
hanging over the raindripping
I am mucho fragilistic.
I’m the dimlet lacking the olive
but sassy with lime pulp.
I’m Glowing Gimlet Girl.
I’m Kiss Bar.
I have omensity.
My clitscape offers instanteternity.
I’m zoopy with femineek.
My sprizzum leaves them
gasping for air.
scatters pink and purple eggshells
across decadent dawn drenched lawns.
I enshadow your intent.
I make tents out of the tangles.
My gutscrape, your thumbscum.
The id is loose.
Juice it up, boy.
The tacos and Saturn tasks can wait.
It’s pony time!
Venus trine Neptune style!
I want to run.
I want to hide.
I stand my small patch of ground
on shaky legs
with my fists to the sky.
I’m not going anywhere.
I’m winging it like the batty motherfucker
you all know me to be.
Inside my mother’s white car
I face down years like a firing squad.
I see more than I let on.
I am afraid of the bullets
but what can I do?
Regardless of my sweaty pleas
the bullets will fly.
There is no stopping the bullets.
Bullets: enter here.
Someday the bullets will be worms.
Right now I’ll take the bullets.
The bullets can decorate me.
I am holy.
I am walking across the parking lot.
I am walking inside Wal-Mart.
It’s almost like flying.
You could say I’m a ghost.
I give good boo.
Well…I give the best BOO
I can scare up
This will suffice.
This is my Valentine sex tape viscera blog
kissy kissy text message
Barge in on my party.
Bask, motherfuckers, in my
Scot: You have a lot of work self published. What are your thoughts on this market?
Misti: I know I’ll never make my fortune at lulu.com. That really isn’t the point. I’m just getting it all down and having fun in the process.
Scot: If you had a chance for a “do over” what would it be?
Misti: I had the chance to go to Lollapalooza in 1995. I didn’t go because I had to work at Wal-Mart. People can say whatever they want about Hole. Courtney Love rocked in 1995 and I wish to hell I’d seen her kicking ass onstage in Austin. I also had a chance to drop acid in 1995. I didn’t do it because of Wal-Mart. In 2004 I left my life in Albuquerque because I was terrified. I’d just divorced my first husband and was freaking out. I wish I’d stayed in Albuquerque.
Scot: Tell me something about you that most people don’t know?
Misti: I’ve been a mother since 1996. I gave birth to a beautiful healthy girl and handed her to adoptive parents I chose in my second trimester the day I left the hospital. I’ve never completely healed from that and never will but I think that was the best choice I’ve ever made.
Scot: If you could sit down with any writer, who would it be and how would it go?
Misti: I’d sit down with Tim Murray. It would go well because I would shoot him with a red water gun and he would share his onion rings with me.