Monday, February 29, 2016

psychologically speaking of zero

it goes like this: 

one night from out the centre of your being
you lay your durable body to the coil thick mattress 
in the middle of a house of bricks and mortar, 
your family safe and heavy with sleep all around,
yet you lay awake with your eyes lit, 
pine-wood knots burning in an urn shaped iron basket 
on a shuddering and shunting platform of sand.

another night your self slides down like a torn envelope
to the surface of some haphazard blankets,
while outside the night is wringing a tornado's portent,
the wind flapping your windows like laundry,
your fragile house hanging inverted from a paste petiole,
the colony depleted - you're all alone, 
yet you sleep the peace of a thousand white winged angels.

Friday, February 26, 2016

from out of the stone flows honey

does the earth feel those places which cup the seed like little ovens of heat?

the sugar in marmalade cracks something open in me beyond its sweetness

the stray dog's amber eyes are a humbling incursion into the nature of humanity

when a child cries, any child, ghost milk percolates up through me

earth's gravid scent writes the cold emptiness

Thursday, February 25, 2016

while watching the vultures circle high in the sky at the acres trust, a rabbit bursts forth from the bushes

who knew that at 45, while heating water for a bath,
february raindrops translating themselves back into snowflakes outside
and drifting down between the dead foot stalks of last year's sunflowers,
deliberating over where to live and how to make the best decision, 
not just for ourselves, but also for the children,
i would discover, in its entirety, the meaning of life
which translates, quite simply like this, 
come, spend a little time with me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

walking through the streets of the market

down one street a foreign man is wagging his tongue through the center of a sound, nearly irresistible siren

down another a rooster is strutting 

beside the swaying thatched roofs and their banners a thunderstorm is brewing - how exciting!

avenue "a" hosts women, with water bowls, in bolts of coloured fabrics, and even a few who circulate with painted smiles like reversed umbrellas over their dangerous stilettos

and in a laneway of sunshine your children are playing in sprinklers - always children, their t-shirts red and yellow

on one street the bulbs are all broken and the crepe table cloths which line the street sound like corn husks - you hurry by

another is composed of green hillocks swelling, one after another, with seagulls in the distance wailing (suggesting further on, perhaps, cliffs? the ocean?)

while one street proclaims order and efficiency and most likely - profit! another hosts a self-sustaining party on until obliteration parade

oh! which life will you buy to take you further away from your own?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

manifold to one

it's like luring the horses back to the barn
or the dead back into the corral of living
trying to coax the self back to its core

come, a little scratch
come, a little salt lick
come, relax your corybantic bodies to the shelter

if the ghosts come back and align themselves
their eyes lock
a series of lenses brightening and aligning
abyss to forever

Sunday, February 21, 2016

desire

the silver needle wants to move through the dark cloth
like the skin wants to move at a runner's angle
to close the wound like the dolphin wants to
faithfully swim as its body through the stygian sea

Saturday, February 20, 2016

architecture

small people
good fine small people with all your smug thoughts

what i know in my mind is as big to me as the accumulation of the vista
out each window of this building

you, with buildings of your own

sometimes i am on the roof looking down at you
sometimes i am on the ground looking up

Friday, February 19, 2016

corpus me

my right arm belongs to the body of the world
it says things like, i am but an adjunct to a body in time

my left arm belongs to me
it raises its fingers at the end of its stump and points

my two hands can be found in my lap
sometimes they clap; sometimes they wring 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

creatures

it was simple. i was walking. and i could have reached out my hand. or not. i could have smiled. or not. i could have used a sweet voice. or employed none. but i was walking and i was the sum of my parts.


two days before i saw the fox. which i saw two months before. and two months before that. and i could have loved the fox. or not. but i was walking and i was the sum of my parts.

said fox was a fine specimen upon first sight. a curious specimen. curious of me. me, curious of it. were we both then fine specimens?

it was newly mangy two days before, when i saw the fox (rough egg-sac-in-skin winter). the sum of its parts. it pattered off into its ailing lot.

i tried to alert the authorities. (who has authority over earth's creatures?) i thought about treating it myself. then i read about mange perhaps being rabies (they eat their own tails and then set to work further into their bodies).
and it was gone. and i was yet here. and i walked on.

it was simple. i was walking. and i could have reached out my hand. or not.


have i told you i'm a mother? i see my children in two days. it was two months before. and two months before that. 

said children are fine. said children are the most loved and lovely specimens. really healthy (i think). i am curious of them. they, less curious of me. am i remotely fine? are they remotely damaged?

i try to be an authority. (who has authority over earth's creatures?) i try to treat myself. i try to read up on potential problems. i try.

and they are gone. and i am here. and i walk on.

so when the stray dog came toward me yesterday. it was simple. i was walking. and i could have reached out my hand. or not. i could have smiled. or not. i could have used a sweet voice. or employed none. but i was walking and i was the sum of my parts.

i smiled. i reached out my hand. it followed me for miles. and i was awash with pain for i could not offer anything but my walking on.


—dear little black mongrel, how terrible of you to respond so willingly to my sweet voice.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

now we have the freedom to

in the old days she wore an apron
in the old days paisley was a strong enough print
to hold the four world seasons together with string

*

the stone for the mill
the mill for the mouth
the mouth for whispering the name

the mill for the stone
the stone for the grain
the grain to sway in the breeze

*

in the old days she was strung by an apron
in the old days an apron might be as strong as a shackle
now, as we choose, we can import avocados through winter

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

unfinished notes on the death of holiness and the rise of represenation or image

with ever increasing luxury our greatest accomplishments and catastrophes in understanding have occurred through the ability to analyze with an ever increasing distance (through progress) the image of self and reality.

something between these things...some energy...some truth... 





"In winter camp (Jaime) de Angulo began to translate the Dilasani qi, the old time stories of the Pit River People, the spirit history of the tribe. In the beginning was the Word, the stories...he felt, dated back into the furthest reaches of the stone age, were more ancient than myth. And the Word was with God...in these stories he felt he had found one of man's earliest attempts to make articulate the movement of the Spirit. And the Word was God..." The symbolism in these stories is little disguised...Ideas are still immanent in objects, and have not yet separated either through identification or projection. In these stories we find the Tinihowi —the primitive religious spirit—reflected throughout...and yet, the reader might ask, if the Pit River Indians have no religious ceremonies, no priesthood, no ritual of any kind, and not the slightest approach to any conception of Godhead, how can one speak of their having any spiritual or religious values? I grant that it may sound somewhat paradoxical, but I must answer on the contrary, the life of these Indians is nothing but a religious experience....The spirit of wonder, the recognition of life as power, as a mysterious, ubiquitous, concentrated form of nonmaterial energy, of something loose about the world and contained in a more or less degree by every object—this is the credo of the Pit River Indians. Of course they would not put it precisely this way. The phraseology is mine, but it is not far from their own." Jaime de Angulo had rediscovered the Logos. Formed and transformed by a hundred Sierra mountain Homers, sung back and forth through these hills for thousands of years, The Dilasani qi were born that first morning. Dilasani qi. The Origin.

from Bob Callahan's "On Jaime de Angulo" in Alcheringa: EthnoPoetics, volume 1, number 1, 1975


*


...A paradox: the same century invented History and Photography. But History is a memory fabricated according to positive formulas, a pure intellectual discourse which abolishes mythic Time; and the Photograph is a certain but fugitive testimony; so that everything, today, prepares our race for this impotence: to be no longer able to conceive duration, affectively or symbolically: the age of the Photograph is also the age of revolutions, contestations, assassinations, explosions, in short, of impatiences, of everything which denies ripening. —And no doubt, the astonishment of "that-has-been" will also disappear. It has already disappeared: I am , I don't know why, one of its last witnesses (a witness of the Inactual), and this book is its archaic trance.

 

     What is it that will be done away with, along with this photograph which yellows, fades, and will someday be thrown out, if not be me—too superstitious for that—at least when I die? Not only "life" (this was alive, this posed live in front of the lens), but also, sometimes—how to put it?—love. In front of the only photograph in which I find my father and mother together, this couple who I know loved each other, I realize: it is love-as-treasure which is going to disappear forever; for once II am gone, no one will any longer be able to testify to this: nothing will remain but an indifferent Nature. This is a laceration so intense, so intolerable, that alone against his century, Michelet conceived of History as love's Protest: to perpetuate not only life but also what he called, in his vocabulary so outdated today, the Good, Justice, Unity, etc.

 

from Barthes' Camera Lucida

 

*

 

"The greatest poverty is not to live in a physical world, to feel that one's desire is too difficult to tell from despair."


from Wallace Stevens' "Esthétique du Mal"

 

*

 

III

The point of vision and desire are the same.
It is to the hero of midnight that we pray
On a hill of stones to make beau mont thereof.

If it is misery that infuriates our love,
If the black of night stands glistening on beau mont,
Then, ancientest saint ablaze with ancientest truth,

Say next to holiness is the will thereto,
And next to love is the desire for love,
The desire for its celestial ease in the heart,

Which nothing can frustrate, that most secure,
Unlike love in possession of that which was
To be possessed and is. But this cannot

Possess. It is desire, set deep in the eye,
Behind all actual seeing, in the actual scene,
In the street, in a room, on a carpet or a wall,

Always in emptiness that would be billed,
In denial that cannot contain its blood,
A porcelain, as yet in the bats thereof.

V

Inescapable romance, inescapable choice
Of dreams, disillusion as the last illusion,
Reality as a thing seen by the mind,

Not that which is but that which is apprehended,
A mirror, a lake of reflections in a room,
A glassy ocean lying at the door,

A great town hanging pendant in a shade,
An enormous nation happy in a style,
Everything as unreal as real can be,

In the inexquisite eye.Why, then inquire
Who has divided the world, what entrepreneur?
No man. The self, the chrysalis of all men

Became divided in the leisure of blue day
And more, in branchings after day. One part
Held fast tenaciously in common earth

And one from central earth to central sky
And in moonlit extensions of them in the mind
Searched out such majesty as it could find.

VIII

We fling ourselves, constantly longing, on this form....

XII

...In the end, in the whole psychology, the self,
The town, the weather, in a casual litter,
Together, said words of the world are the life of the world. 

from Wallace Stevens' "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven" 




*

 

"We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man."

 

from C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity

 

*

 

To live here, to love here,
as Jack our friend the Gilbert would say,
sighing, smiling,
requires an extraordinary knowledge of freedom,
unhistorical and reinvented by us here in every
act, as when I brought for you for a love token
the plastic sack of just sprouted lilies-of-the-valley
to plant around the steps of our arched doorway.
That was phenomenon, not poetry, not symbol, the act
without a proof, freedom-in-love. 

 

from Hayden Carruth's "Poem Catching Up with an Idea" 

 

*

 

Elem Klimov's Farewell, a Russian movie, 1983

Monday, February 15, 2016

winter vignette

it was thirty below, nearly forty
when we stopped the car and i slid out
beside, into the cold white drum

how hot my piss shot through the ice

me there, beside the car, open, vulnerable
my ass hanging out

and so it is always the case -
the vast inhospitable universe
and the pleasure of the small fire

Sunday, February 14, 2016

letters to february

dear february, i dare you.

why is your face so pale, so solemn?
what happened to you, february?
                                              (will it happen to me?)

dear february, when first i respected you -
now i just grow weary. can't you have the decency
to just step aside to let march through?

ha, february! you're not so strong!
me, with these muscles and these walls and fire!
ingenuity! without doubt, i'm stronger!

shh, february, i forgot your long nights,
how small your dark makes my candle.
no words set to the page cast enough light
to weaken your unwavering endurance.

february, you are the embodiment of doubt, aren't you...

february, can't we negotiate?
wouldn't you like to go home too?

here we are, february,
you're bound by time, i'm hurt by time -
this puts us on one side.
take my hand; we'll travel together.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

february, beside the big water

somewhere above the sky the heavens dared pour amber
down   which filtered through the turbulence of clouds 

a swell of waves beneath which comprised the horizon were continually 
heaped   like sacrificial sea lions against the ice shelf

i sat in the car protected from the buffeting with heaney's "flaggy 
shore"   while you wandered the huron's brutal winter boundary

we did not know what we would do but we knew 
regardless the choice   something would happen

Friday, February 12, 2016

the bell and the blindfold, notes

i wanted a bell and so i put on a blindfold
to experience the moment. I walked to a window 
and traced the frame, leaned my head
without thinking, toward the absence of the image,
heart sick lover. touched cold. walked through
the house counting footfalls, counting nothing.
then the skin of the walls, the fortuitousness
of doorways. i climbed the stairwell
and let my hands move through the unfettered space
towards my son's bed (gone now some months), 
finding by accident the cat's packaged womb. how surprised
we were with this unusual attention. in our bedroom
i searched the stack of pillows for james' and my scent,
finding instead what always remains (which we sentimentalize),
the smell of a woman's handbag or ash. at my husband's desk
i measured how the chair was moved out with the perfect distance
for his body to slip out and then back into again. i held my shoulders  
while in his chair wishing i could understand 
the width of them, but my hands began inside me.

what is there to do, so limited, so removed from 
the world?

     —everything.
      
beginning with listening from here for the bell. 

*

less a poem and more an experiment in being...

and so after moving around the house, i felt my way through the living room to the only music i knew to play without sight, ólafur arnalds' the chopin project, which happened to be sitting out on a shelf. with my hands i placed it inside my laptop's compartment and hoped it would play on its own. it did.

it was a battle inside the darkness. a constant tussle with the mind. expectation. and self. 

to hear each movement meant to remove the siding from the house inside me. over and over boards were wrenched free. and over and over new boards appeared. but i persevered until i swam upward far enough to see the black sea of sky overhead and feel the music enter me like stars through the forehead.

after an hour of listening. profoundly. of being present. it was the most difficult thing to return to here. to leave from there. it was such a loss to gain sight and world's sound again. it was, for a time, utter sadness.

blackness had become sight. attention had become the auditory sensation. and full-bodiedness (in this case) was but a deficit. 
 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

not incongruous moods, notes

something interesting has been happening lately through sleep. i have been letting go of everything. keeping nothing. giving myself over to space.

(whatever this means) the first night i dreamt in japanese aesthetics. then, another night, with a careful and lush language like proust. then as though the good clean notes of classical music were born like black substance to void. asking for nothing in return. struggling from or for nothing. recognizing that while these were descriptions of what passed, what actually happened inside the dreams didn't look like the descriptions at all. (i vaguely recall hitting at something with a broken board, not for sound but for movement, during the classical music night. maybe it wasn't even a board but a dead and stiffened animal.) but i have trusted the descriptions to be just.

last night i went to bed with only the word almond filling with presence my mind. how sensual the skin of my feet became against the white duvet. how peacefully erotic and perfect and seamless the world.

it is with slight trepidation, fear even, i think of it now. so pure it has been - i want it again. but i don't believe it can be attained by asking for it.

*

february

there is so much snow
the crows have been forced
to the treetops like blisters
my neighbour's dog shits
at the only driveway opening 
that is not his own - ours

my parents have already begun
to climb down from their ladders 
their spring cleaning almost finished
ceilings, walls, table tops and shelves
75 tea cups 
and their matching saucers

my son hovers in his bedroom
my daughter in hers
(remember being a teen 
and needing to find your dominion) 
my husband is calm on the couch
and i'm pressed to the back kitchen window

the sun's shining out 
on and over the snow
throwing shadows 
like serpents 
or black and white rainbows
glittering the fractured flakes frozen atop of it

what is there to want?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Visit To St. Vincent de Paul's

I listen to them long before I see them,
two men arguing passionately
amongst the stacks of chipped cups
and discarded undergarments;
topics such as: the beginning of the universe,
art - methodology and its value,
and what makes classical music classic.
One has very dirty hair.
The other cranes his decrepit wheelchair
to face and feed on every conflicting morsel.  
The evidence for all arguments, they claim, 
is scattered atop the coffee tables in each of their homes.
All would be revealed, all claimed -
if only there was some way they could visit.

As I pay a few bucks for a piece of cracked Spode,
a cup that was fractured but has been glued whole,
I think of the ending of Wittgenstein's Tractatus,
"What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence."

The men carry on.
They are all of us.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

when we were one

i want what we had,
saturday nights bashed
in the living room, 
compact, dancing from
our throats, gender rapt,
his chubby legs in tights,
her queer hiplessness all that,
and me with the nest of my throat
thrown up, over and over,
like the adam's apple 
thrust from the trampoline's mat.
i want what we had,
that reckless unlimited skin
of earthbound flight
and self-struck abandon.

once, two weeks past
having given up 
on the breast,
i brought the baby 
back to my nipple 
which was losing
its dark cast fast,
my milk draining
out from me,
an inverse rain, maybe
from out my back -
the baby didn't drink.
instead she became distracted 
with her tiny fingers,
their perfecting of her own 
swaying cat's cradle.

i want what we had...

Monday, February 8, 2016

When We Try To Eat The Kore or The Kouros

It was because we were hungry
we opened our mouths at daybreak
to take in the sky and whatever bird
crossed in front of us. It was because
we were hungry we wandered
over the hilltops and through the
stables and shops of one another.
We were hungry and nothing real
could feed us. Nothing real existed
in the same shape as our emptiness.

We met men, women, strangers and took
them inside and felt, we know you - a little.
And then the children flocked out from us,
taking our blood chutes and increasing
our hollows. They left to wander over
their hilltops, deep set eyes, already malnourished.
We shouted to the constantly fleeting configurations,
"Come back and reform us as we were.
So we can know again our first aches.
So we can remember the precision
of our first incomplete forms."

Then there were years of hauntings and echoes,
a few rare hopes, and plenty of time, time—

Friday, February 5, 2016

Tracks Disappearing Over Field

Late day bruise of clouds -
     does the sun love the world and show it most in its leaving?

Stippled fringe of conifer and a crosshatch of white birch,
     breath freezing around the collar into a stiffening mast.

It is a painted glass plate you walk toward which holds the ache
     like art, cows sheltering from cold in a copse of divested trees.

Queen Anne's Lace, its lesser known sister-self -
     who warms to its skeletal presence, empty palm thrust upright through ice?

A bus delivers a child home, late, maybe the last run of the day,
     to a dog's bark dying down in the distance.

A crow passes overhead and caws three times,
     a signatory to existence, removed, inviolable.

You carry inside of you an opening of possible hunger that sharpens
     as you move, a hot dinner heating the edge of this cold landscape.

Fox tracks leave the road, enter the field, then disappear.
     What does this warm red drum amble after? What could there possibly be? 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

god's tongue is two people

after we are done, after we have returned our hands to their posts
and our bodies to the earth, i turn to him and say,
now you should lift me with your arms and hold me by my nub overhead
and we should pass together over the smooth gleam of ice,
not because we have done something athletic, but artistic,
because we have spun and spun 'til ice was world, 'til body was word,
and word once again god.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

servants of the household

it's morning again.
i long to have a shorn head.
i long to sit still and be prostrate.
i imagine someone's hands moving 
up over my back's skin,
up my neck, over my head, 
along the particular curves of my hairline,
down over my forehead, my cheekbones,
as though they knew what they were doing.
yes, it's morning again 
and this longing returns.

when i was young and sick
my mind went off into the main entrance
of a house i knew as home, 
a place i'd never been before, 
but whose rich woods were knowledge in my skin.
the foyer, a grand room with high ceilings,
was ringed in portraits of the dead, 
who were not exactly dead 
but still somehow present, the canvas itself a myth -
yes, something like this, and i knew each one of them,
although i didn't recognize one face, not one grim grin.
my presence from the center of that room
was a pure question beaming out, 
the answer an invisible vine which climbed 
like stairs through the whiteness of air.
     something there was nearly unlocked— .

this longing to be naked and touched
each morning through prayer
by someone who surely must exist,
is something akin to this.
so i sit, drinking my coffee,
pushing back my hair, wondering where
they are, this sage, this stroking implement, 
and where under all this familial balk, 
the bald and naked body of me is.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

world of plenty

there is a woman in new york
who can't read
i read for her

a woman in beirut
with throat cancer
i eat for her

there is a woman in pyongyang
who can't carry a tune
i sing for her

a woman in delhi
with broken legs
i run for her

there is a woman in london
who has been broken into so many times
i honour myself with one for her

a woman in kampala
with no permission to work
i work for her

i am a city of one
who can barely speak aloud
i write for you

(sitting and thinking in particular of two women who are dear to me and who are limited in body, i sat with my son's globe in my hands considering the cities in the world where women live. as i held the globe and turned it in my hands lovingly, it became irrelevant where any woman in particular lives, in which nation, in which city, with which prescribed rights - a woman's world is simultaneously large and small, emblematic of the whole and yet always, from its core, personal. holding the globe in my hands was such an act of intimacy, like holding the two crescents of a woman's hands between my own.)

Monday, February 1, 2016

formation of a universe

it started like this,

three words unfurled from above my eyes in front of me:
limitless, singularity and christening

then i felt my body opening up like the petals of a poppy or the flocculent 
tail feathers of a trumpeter swan

when i touched his wrist his pulse was transferred into my forehead 
like crimson rain or a fever

then my body demanded that black books be flung until freedom 
against a stone wall