Sunday, December 21, 2014

Roger Reeves

Roger Reeves [Julio Jimenez]

from Roger Reeves's King Me:

Self-Portrait as Vincent van Gogh in the Asylum at Arles

The moths in the orchard squeal
with each pass of the mistral wind.
Yet the reapers and their scythes,
out beyond the pear trees, slay wheat
in sure columns. Christ
must have been made of shocks
of wheat. When they lashed him,
four bundles of fine yellow burst forth
from each welt. And the women,
tarrying as they do now behind the swing
and chuff of the reapers' blades,
gathered and plaited the stray pieces
of wheat falling from his hips into braids,
long braids that would bind a tattered sail-
cloth over his yellow mouth, yellow feet.
Oh to be bound by one's own blood
like a burlap sack cinched around the neck
with a leather belt. Father, forgive me
for the moths shrieking in the orchard
of my mouth. Forgive the rattle and clatter
of wings inside the blur of my brain.
Even if these iron bars queer a field,
queer a woman standing too close to a reaper's blade,
a half-moon hung and wholly harsh,
even if this woman, burdened like a spine
carrying a head and a basket of rocks,
forgets the flaw of a well-sharpened tool,
let her not mistake my whimper and warning
for the honk of a goose in heat. Father,
she is not made like our savior,
of straw, of a coarse tender. Nothing will stop
when her blood runs along a furrow.
The sun will not sag with a red scowl.
The field will not refuse water, Father,
I am unsure of what I am —
a fragrant mistral wind or a pile of moth's heads
at the foot of a pear tree. Father,
give me a scythe. Father, let me decide.

Every Casket, a Pause

Leaking white into the plum-crushed tunic of night,
the geese drop their tiny anvils onto the lake,
our heads, as if your brother floating below our boat
weren't forcing enough silence into our throats.
Should I gather and burn what falls? What beast
should I press to your back and breast, let suck
at the fine ribbon of grief knotted at your neck?
I have an animal for every occasion. And another
for the occasion after. Our boat tangled in the crown
of a pine. Your hand, hacking at the needles. Too much
blood in the water. Dead Love, Dear Pine Piercing
The Top of This Flooded Lake, who will cut us down,
burn what remains, leave feathers to clot our throat?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag [Architectural Digest]

from Susan Sontag's Antonin Artaud: Selected Writings:

Artaud wandered in the labyrinth of a specific type of religious sensibility, the Gnostic one. (Central to Mithraism, Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism, and Tantric Buddhism, but pushed to the heretical margins of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the perennial Gnostic thematics appear in the different religions in different terminologies but with certain common lines.) The leading energies of Gnosticism come from metaphysical anxiety and acute psychological distress — the sense of being abandoned, of being an alien, of being possessed by demonic powers which prey on the human spirit in a cosmos vacated by the divine. The cosmos is itself a battlefield, and each human life exhibits the conflict between the repressive, persecuting forces from without and the feverish, afflicted individual spirit seeking redemption. The demonic forces of the cosmos exist as physical matter. They also exist as “law,” taboos, prohibitions. Thus, in the Gnostic metaphors the spirit is abandoned, fallen, trapped in a body, and the individual is repressed, trapped, by being in “the world” — what we would call “society.” (It is a mark of all Gnostic thinking to polarize inner space, the psyche, and a vague outer space, “the world” or “society,” which is identified with repression — making little or no acknowledgment of the importance of the mediating levels of the various social spheres and institutions.) The self, or spirit, discovers itself in the break with “the world.” The only freedom possible is an inhuman desperate freedom. To be saved, the spirit must be taken out of its body, out of its personality, out of “the world.” And freedom requires an arduous preparation. Whoever seeks it must both accept extreme humiliation and exhibit the greatest spiritual pride. In one version, freedom entails total asceticism. In another version, it entails libertinism — practicing the art of transgression. To be free of “the world,” one must break the moral (or social) law. To transcend the body, one must pass through a period of physical debauchery and verbal blasphemy, on the principle that only when morality has been deliberately flouted is the individual capable of a radical transformation: entering into a state of grace that leaves all moral categories behind. In both versions of the exemplary Gnostic drama, someone who is saved is beyond good and evil. Founded on an exacerbation of dualisms (body-mind, matter-spirit, evil-good, dark-light), Gnosticism promises the abolition of all dualisms.

Artaud’s thought reproduces most of the Gnostic themes.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Saskia Hamilton

Saskia Hamilton [Star Black]

from Saskia Hamilton's Divide These:

Year One

If the eyes move to the right: no.
If they stay in the center: yes.

The left is for listening because they sit
on the left side of the bed.

Only the eyes move. Someone
swabs her lips.

The first nurse is too cheerful.
The second does not know

how to speak to the speechless.
The third strokes her arm:

something settles down:
one lying, one sitting,

one in the doorway.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Remembering Dreams

A flash of green,
the face of someone mouthing words
you can’t hear or remember —
sometimes all that returns is the curve
of the plank bridge you cross, the wonder of
outstretched wings, your body
riding the air between.

Nights, you lie impatient
for sleep, for noises to jolt you awake
mid-dream — the sound of the child
rising from her bed at the foot of your bed,
staring out the window, then peering at you,
your closed eyes, making sure you’re
still here, the child not knowing
you are awake & listening.

You wait for reruns —
the dream of the lion, the snakes
surrounding the bed, the long corridors,
pitched ramps, stair steps
hollowed by boot soles
leading you higher & higher to room after room,
family & roommates, always
the old house.

You wait for the rare dreams
where your mother is alive
& going her patient way —
being a mother is learning how to wait”
she would say at the doctor’s office,
at piano lessons, & afterward waiting alone
the rest of her life for letters & calls, waiting
through the long dream of her death.

Before first light
you wait & listen, dreams gone by
except in bursts — one actor
center stage, spots blazing, grease-paint
running, her mouth round & open
she speaks into the memory
of your other world.