Maria Allocco / Haunting Harvest


a fall gathering of bay area writers

Progressive Grounds

san francisco


Ventured out into the early evening greeted by a fog and rain, a gloom appropriate to the season and bussed and waited and bussed again into the Mission District full of ghosts of night rides past, not all malignant, not all tame.

Progressive Grounds, a conscious cafe and

community arts center, created THE BLOOM

produced by 14 Black Poppies, hosted by writer

Nayomi Munaweera.

Women of color gathered to say, to sing the praises and trials of existence; writers in an electronic age; paper over plastic,you might say.

My head full of the voices of dot-com.ers in plaid and back packs on the way over, manically and matter-of-factly talking of launches, platforms and unusual demographics, and for all their obscure futuristic chatter and electronic strategies, it can all be reduced to yuppie con-men fronting a company that

makes pay-day loanspay-day-loans, and for all

their self-satisfied pea-under-the shell-gaming,

Willie Loman lives still-born in their hearts as

lousy, as losing as lost as that doomed character

only wearing younger, more pampered skin.

I am here for Maria,

Maria Allocco, a friend and a great dramatic writer,

an inhabitor of words; mercifully, she is first, (this

is unfair because the words of all the women are

worth the ink), my time is limited and there is a

long night of work ahead for me.

I am here for Maria and for her I stay.

“Stay”, for me:

suspend thinking / smile / remain open / don’t judge/ there’s a nice woman seated next to me; she’s asked me to guard her chair while she grabs something to drink /

Jason the proprietor is lively, excitable, sincere;

this is forward and way back time all at once…hey

Carl, it is only THIS time and shut down the brain

( a sometimes decidedly bad neighborhood)…and

to an extent, I do.

When I do, I am fully “there” and surprisingly having a good time; don’t have to work so hard to ignore anything; people are genuinely kind and interested in the going’s on; I can momentarily put the fear away if I choose, and I choose to.

Maria is introduced, and as alphabetical “first” is first to break the ice, to test the mike, to feel herself and the crowd and she does that as any sacrificial lamb must do. Her voice is clear and she is among friends, she is in her element. She will find her way.

Half the opening poem is done (MY BODY IS A RENTED ROOM), and she inhabits it, finally; her voice warms to the occasion, her back is straight, there is a widening stance, she, in leather boots and form-fitting dress, arrives full-on into the tone and pacing letting metaphors of heart, hair and limbs shape the movement of the words and the convoluted terms of issue of the flesh takes form in words and meaning and soothes the audience letting us in by means of trust and assurances that we have arrived and the lamb will rest in peace for the remainder of the night.

Nothing is disposable and there is great victory in the dance, the movement of voice to sound; the voice, the movement, the words; the reader lost in the words, smiling the words, coaxing the words; what we pluck of meaning and identification from a cafe air , it too, resting in peace of forgotten espresso machine gurgle and counter top slaps: Maria has offered herself, her first words her body/ mind/ presence/ intention/ voice to sanctify this Mission space.

It is the season of the witch, of harvest and loss and gain and gathering, of assessing what has brought us here; what has borne us through the door of memory and experience.

Allocco’s  STORY OF MY BIRTH recalls, with profound

insight, birth as redemption and karmic

prerogative; birth as horror show where we/she

pays them dues, even as we arrive, for past

transgressions and transgressions in the past of

our progenitors wholly, claimed and laid at the

feet of the bearer: all of us, any of who

harvest/gather; are harvested/gathered (in her

case, via mechanical intervention) through whim

of the men in white with savior complexes, who

make it up as they go, in this, a life or death

matter, a birth of pain into pain ending in pain and

repeated; of obedience’s to the doctors and fathers

and priests who are all doctors, fathers,

executioners and priests to any one of us who

contemplate whether to “pull the plug” on the

other, the dreamer, the iconoclast, the helpless,

the frail: any one of us

Maria reminds us of systems larger than ourselves that mightily miss the mark, likely to overlook the labored breath of a dreamer transitioning as best they can from death to sleep to life again.


Carl Heyward