Penny Arcade

4 poems by  Penny Arcade

Photo of Penny by Jasmine Hirst

photo of Penny by Jasmine Hirst

No Poem
No word, no sound emerges
Just a loud silence in a dark cave
Where an ancient spring trickles a
rivulet of primal salt.
No wound or all wound
Just gape
No crust or seepage
Just open and still
Like death or shortly after death
Stillness it’s only attribute
Stillness, a kind of gray blue
Envelopes and defines it’s own space
No heartache but absence of heart
No feeling but feeling
No emotion but emotion
No thinking just thought
The empty space of conciousness
Alive in it’s function but empty of idea.
Eternity looms like an empty place
In a flat plain landscape
With neither tree nor bush nor meadow
Without person, beast or thing man made
An endless pale blue sky
Almost colorless
Without wind  or shadow or sun
Without breath or holding  breath
Without tear or smile or frown or pain
Or all pain
Pain like the sea between continents
Without light
Only depth and more depth and endless depth
Of endless dark and salt and cold

No word , no poem
No song no lament
Just dirt
Damp and heavy with no smell
No taste
No end of depth of dirt
That burrows deeper and deeper
With no end.

No memory, no mood
No small thing to differentiate it
Just wood and wooden
No living thing to give direction
Neither tree nor road nor moving thing
Just stillness and dead air
Heavy and thick with the weight of nothing.

The end of history, the end of dreams
The end of plans
The end of problems, of issues
of retort , of statement
of question
Silent , empty
The sound after the crash

Beginning arrives soon.
Alone and without plan
Without question or statement
No rustling announces it
nor sound
All begins in stillness.


Bandit Queen
Today I read that a photographer was releasing a book
called “Laws of The Bandit Queens”
It features Sandra Bernhard, Janeane Garofalo and others
I had no idea how underground I am.


Beat Bitch
I am the dog under the table  waiting for scraps
I am the beat bitch shuddering on the welcome mat at a closed door.
I am the empty road, the cloudless night
I am sorrow in sunshine
I am strength in the face of  victory
That holds back it’s  sword from the neck of  the  oppressor
That  gives a drink of water to the enemy making  thrice sure it is cool and clean.
Is it true that I am a fool for love?
But what if I already knew, playing backwards, what I owe?
What if no price is too high?
What if it is worth every penny to me?
Yet what if my sacrifice does you no good?
if it is  you who are called to sacrifice and my running out in front of your
Sword negates the glory you aspire to?

I know every hair on your head
The curve of your neck to the shoulder
The place where your brow, inner eye and nose meet

The way you come at the back of my
throat or at my womb
Though right now it embarrasses me to say
What you have forgotten

I was your queen

Although I loved equally the role of your whore
The table laid with silk was my domain
And every role I played I relished
Because it was with you

The darkened house

Without you
To know no footstep comes
That once lifted my heart
My joy was only you
Though I possessed the world

A simple bench to sit next to you was enough
Despite the throne
That was our inheritance
It mattered not to me
And still does not
From my jail, my dungeon
Lank and fetid
With your abuse
Though unintended

But even if it were
Would thwart me not
Does this make me a fool
Or worse
One who throws herself on an
empty pyre
That burns not yet neither is it green?
Am I standing still to admire
A mirage
Made lovelier by my thirst?
And sacrifice if that is my lot
Is this less than victory
Or just a  dream of a sleepless night
A fantasy of love conceived
By one who fears to live
Out their destiny?


Haiku # 1
I thought you were Kurt Cobain
but then he died
and you were still around.


Penny Arcade (Susana Ventura) is an internationally acclaimed and respected writer, poet, essayist, cultural critic, director and performance, theater and video artist and cultural icon. She is one of the few Performance Artists to gain international renown in the mainstream theatre and entertainment world. Penny Arcade occupies a rare position in the American avant garde and counter culture and is a link between the present and the ethos of the 1960’s. At 17 she debuted as an original member of The Playhouse of The Ridiculous, NY’s famed queer, glitter/glam political theatre, that influenced everything from David Bowie to Punk to current performance.  At 19 she was a teenaged superstar for Andy Warhol’s Factory, featured in the film Women In Revolt available on DVD and is one of the few artists from that scene to become internationally known in her own right. She is one of the very few independent American artists able to sustain a 40 year career in the arts and she is at the top of her game in several arenas she helped define.

She is the author of ten full length perfomance plays and numerous solo shows, including) Bitch!Dyke!Faghag!Whore!, (1990-1995) her sex and censorship show, a blend of political humanism and erotic dancers, whose influence is incalculable as a mainstream, commercial hit in 22 cities around the world and left the new burlesque movement in it’s wake. In 1991 Quentin Crisp identified Penny Arcade as the woman he most identified with, naming her his soul-mate and anima figure and they performed many shows together for almost a decade. In 2009 Cynthia Nixon, of Sex in The City portrayed Penny Arcade in a film on Mr Crisp, An Englishman In New York.  Her award winning documentary project LES Biography Project, Stemming The Tide Of Cultural Amnesia with long time collaborator Steve Zehentner, has broadcast weekly in NY since 1999. A hard cover book containing 3 of Arcade’s performance scripts: La Miseria, about growing up as a girl in a Southern Italian immigrant, working class, peasant family in America and the clash of compassion, racism and homophobia, Bitch!Dyke!faghag!Whore!, and the book’s title piece Bad Reputation about the commodification of the Bad Girl, the links between sexual abuse, drug addiction and prostitution and of how women betray women leading to the failure of feminism, with the first four essays on Penny Arcade’s theatrical philosophy and aesthetics and a full length interview, archival photos spanning 1968 to 2009 was published by Semiotexte(e) and MIT Press in 2009. She is a passionate and gifted lecturer, teacher, coach and mentor.  Visit for reviews, essays, blogs and to contact Penny.