Kalamity J's Mother's Urn, Memoir Dust
“Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children.” - The Crow (1994)
What happens when our gods fail us? How do we rise above the shattered clay feet of formative idols? Do we choose to - or not - reinvent ourselves? Kalamity J, poet and author, explores these concepts in her graphic novel, Mother’s Urn, Memoir Dust.
Mother’s Urn charts a young girl’s observations of her mother, a nameless, beautiful bohemian, who, despite her gifts, falls prey to a disastrous marriage and drug/alcohol addiction. The story, illustrated with a quixotic and colorful Dali-esque style by artist Antonia Gribikova, is divided into four parts; “Christmas Myth,” “No Refills on the Photo Album,” “Somebody’s Mother,” and “New Lesson.”
The heavily influenced goth-punk lyrical prose in Mother’s Urn is a bit stilted, but lovely to read, similar to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, and even Ovid’s Metamorphoses, except the vampirism exhibited in Mother’s Urn is not physical. Instead, it is masochistic, emotional, and psychic, as in the first chapter, “Christmas Myth”:
School started. Always believed that
Santa would come. Please say that Santa
isn’t daddy. Christmas. The day it all
comes together. Like before, when things like memory
can remind you of something sweet. Crooked cookies
waited until morning. Crumb-lipped dad asleep on
the sofa, waiting for it to be over. Mom put away
her nose straws for sleepy pills. …Daddy fast asleep
now. Please, don’t wake him. He was angry when
awakened. Liquor bitter mother can’t remember
when he became the bitter. Shit on the fan. Blood
on the nose. Hand to the face. Hand to the face. Through her hair he’d
one fist snag some sense into her. Nose numbed.
She was draining all the bank accounts. All the
smiles from his face, all the flesh from her bones.
The babies cried from the closets they hid in while
he hit her.
The mother in Kalamity J’s stories is almost a child herself; one who falls in love too easily and gives of herself to the point of abnegation, and sadly, to the detriment of her daughter, and then, later, her son. The chronicle of her descent is callow, poignant and fascinating, as illustrated in the third chapter, “Somebody’s Mother”:
Midnight pill talks
started getting out of hand
never outside the house
always outside her flesh
eating disease on her brain craving knowledge
or just something really sweet
or how bout a cigarette or that old college boyfriend
package deal, in walks domestic violence stage left
right-left-right, left hook, and she down down
downers for breakfast
take a little get away runaway college boyfriends.
Skin slipping sliding down
with losing pounds to keep
still got that really hot head
of hair, all knotted up, twisted, tied hidden
smokey smelling stinkin’.
Front teeth diving toward oblivion
leaving stumped remains to sidetrack conversation.
Tooth decay decoy for the hasty gas station judge
Human, hard handed tired floppy sloppy rag doll.
She’ll wash your windows if you ask her
and she’ll offer if you don’t.
The author in the Mother’s Urn is left to face an uncertain future, true to the literary tradition of an uncommon vampire tale. What happens after the vampire disintegrates in the light of day? Where will the weary heroine go to now? What will she become? Will she evolve into a masochistic vampire like her mother, or will she outgrow her fragmented legacy? If you want to find out, and I highly recommend that you do, then buy the book.
Mother’s Urn, Memoir Dust, Kalamity J, copyright 2006 Ink Pen Mutations, www.inkpenmutations, ISBN 0-9776961-0-0, 46 pages, $10.00)