Expectation of Deliverance
I first met 'Billy Mo' in '76; it was the American Bicentennial and we were freshman at The Maryland Institute College of Art. I believe it was early autumn and I was a greenhorn poet going to my first group reading at the urging of my poetry instructor, Joe Cardarelli. At that time, performance art was a big deal and I used props as visual aids in my poetry. I carried my beat up suitcase full of weird objects to the reading. Walking down the street from the opposite direction was 'MO' also carrying a suitcase. We climbed the steps of the main building asking each other what was in the suitcases. As it turned out 'MO' also had a bunch of weird junk in his luggage. At the reading, I read a piece about the City Fish Market Master being arrested for molesting little boys and the article told a sordid tale. His sister was a Catholic nun and no one knew of his perverse hobby. My props included rubber fish, a crucifix, a rosary, and underwear, among other stuff I do not recall. As I read the poem, I would pull objects from the suitcase which illustrated the story and then tossed them into a nearby garbage can. Then 'MO' came on to do his poetry. He opened the suitcase and started puling out paper plates that had comic faces drawn on them. A mother, a small boy, a father among others too numerous to remember. He held the face plates in front of his head and became the characters in voice and gesture. It was hilarious as he switched from one paper plate to the next. I believe we were the first prop poets, mixing tragedy, comedy and poetry to create a new form. From that night on we became brothers in the world of art, music and poetry. As time passed we began doing one act plays and poetry readings all the time, everywhere. Growing more dissatisfied with the status quo of the art/poetry world at that time, we dropped out of college, in 1977 and started a band called 'Da Moronics', Baltimore's first punk rock band, formed in 1977. He sang and I played guitar and we wrote songs together. For the next five years we lived a crazy life of anarchy, chaos and punk rock. We traveled to N.Y.C. and played C.B.G.B.'S. We played in D.C. at the original 9:30 Club. We were living the life of original PUNK ROCK GODS. As The 80'S creeped up on us, and punk rock died a quiet death, the band broke up and Billy MO pursued his other passion, painting. His images were so striking and fantastic at the time. Looking back now, they seem prophetic. Large canvases of clowns with guns and bombs wreaking havoc on ordinary people, like the terrorism we deal with on a daily basis. Ordinary images of a pie cooling on a windowsill took on double meanings. Paper money, on fire, falling from the sky. Nude women jumping out of cakes surrounded by men in business suits wearing dunce caps. A nude, carrying a gift box, past a T.V. on the bunk, into a room where 3 men in dunce caps sit playing cards. His burning nudes take on a spiritual aura, like The Phoenix rising from the fire. His use of vivid colors and surreal situations burn into your memory forever and in this collection of poetry and stories his works will too. TOM DIVENTI.