This is the door

 

this is not spoken word.
these are words, 
spoken.

~

this is not slam,
this is the door.

this is the window.
this is the glaze.

this is the breeze
brought across your skin.

this is the wind on the water and
the breath on the surface.

this is the ripple.

~

this is the breath of the earth
brought to the sky.

this is the surface 
where the landscape is seen.

this is the landscape 
where we all wander.

this is the place 
where we all are lost 			
and 
this is the only place 
where we will ever find each other.

~

this is living a vibrant adage.
this is living on a verdant ledge.
this is living on that vibrating edge.

~

this is not my body.
this is my voice.

this is vibration brought into being.
this is my mind pushing a column of air,
somewhere.

this is sound shaped into meaning.
this is me breathing, in you.

this is muscle and cavity, moving.
this is diaphragm, lung, larynx, tongue, lips and jaw.
 
these are my words in your mouth.		
this is my world 
in the mouth of your mind.

~

this is not performance, 
this is incantation.

~


this is where body touches mind.
this is where meaning is born
and this is where meaning dies.

this is not finding meaning in a story.
this is making a story mean something.

this is not seeking meaning. 
this is living meaning
and this is making all these things mean something.

this is not seeking, 
this is making.

this is mind making myth.
this is myth-making mind.
this is making myth mind.
this is myth making mind 
and
this is making me (into) a myth.

~

this is not ritual,
this is invocation. 

~

this is not some 
thing,
this is something lived.

this is some but not all.

this is the sum.
this is the current.
this is the slow movement of mind
and 
this movement is not mine.

this is the company of misery.
this is the beat of the beaten.
this is the brand of the new.

this is the spent cartridge,
the smell of sulphur
and a cloud of rust
in a sepia sky.

this is blood sucked 
straight from the sand.
this is the tatters 
of the temple’s torn curtain.

~

this is pure speculation.
this is mind ore.
this is the whore of the mind
doing its helical mambo.

this is me 
fucking me.

this is what it means.

this is what “it” means.

and

this is all there is.

this is all there is.

this is all there is.




~~~~~

(I began this piece sometime in 2015 and have tinkered
with it on and off ever since. As happens often with me, 
I get tired of looking at things or I don't know what else
to do with them and so I abandon them here....

“Poems are never finished – just abandoned”
—Paul Valery)

Intersections: …time does not really exist…

I sometimes (very rarely--when I somehow, strangely am not too 
embarrassed to--when I actually feel comfortable enough to--share 
with people that I actually write poems...) tell people, 
when this, that or another topic comes up in conversation,
“You know, I’m actually working on a poem about that.”

Recently, I have come to realize that often this “poem” that I 
am working on is often just a line or two sitting in its (or their) 
own otherwise blank document, waiting for me to finish it (or 
them)--sitting there in a primordial soup of meaning (or is it 
meaninglessness? I lose track...), like dry little sticks, poking up
through that pure white nothingness of snow, waiting for spring 
to come and the thaw to begin and the juices to start flowing up, 
up from the soil from which they are growing. 

So where or what is this actual “poem” that I say that I am working on?
(Is it the twigs? Is it the snow? Is it hiding in the earth underneath?)

It’s not the grouping of words that finally finds its way onto 
the page, and it's definitely not those one or two lines, sitting there, all
by their lonesomes on that big, blank, cold and lonely page.
It’s something else, something that existed long before I even knew 
where those one or two lines were going to go or where they came 
from or where they were going to take me. It's something that spoke 
to me with something more (or was it less?) than words. It's something 
that I sometimes think of as a constellation, for lack of a better word
to describe how this thing that hasn't yet made it's appearance in the
world feels, or felt, back before it knew what it wanted to be. It's a thing
that starts as a melange--part scent, part emotion, part kinesthetic 
feeling, part logical thought or conundrum or paradox, part memory or 
missing memory that pulls at me from the dark corners. 


It's like walking into a pantry (your grandmothers, your dream grand-
mother's, your dream grandmother's dream), full of spices and herbs and 
root vegetables, dark and dusky autumnal reminiscent golden light and 
being overwhelmed, dumbfounded and found dumb and mute, being 
stopped right their in the tracks that you only just now (by virtue of this 
thing happening) realize you were riding on (when you thought you 
were in control, thought you were in the pilot's seat), by.....

...something...

...and then trying to put that something into words because words are all 
that you have and you know--you just Know--that someone, somewhere 
has had that something in their hands before, had it run between their 
legs like an obstinate feline, they've felt it brush by them, felt that very 
same thing's whispery wing push a gentle breeze across the skin of their 
upper arm and you just KNOW that you have to tell them, "I felt it too." 

The poem is a thing that exists outside of time and space. It was 
there even before I wrote those one or two lines and it is something 
that is also else and other than the final thing that eventually 
finds its way on to the page.



“A poem is nonetheless present from the conception, from the first 
germ of it crossing the mind—it must be scratched for and exhumed. 
There is an element of timelessness. The leading atomic scientist 
in Australia agreed with me the other day that time does not really 
exist. The finished poem is present before it is written and one 
corrects it. It is the final poem that dictates what is right, what 
is wrong.”
—Robert Graves (from an interview in Paris Review)



“Even the right words if ever
we come to them tell of something
the words never knew”

--W. S. Merwin (from “What the Bridges Hear”, in his brilliant book 
of poems, The Shadow of Sirius)

~~~

It is thanks to Holly Lofgreen that I have come back to this Intersection
and finally finished it and posted it after it sitting in my drafts folder for
at least a year. We have been discussing this ephemeral nature of the 
poem--where it comes from...where it goes--which has helped me to 
crystalize these thoughts. 

There is power, real power--the kind that comes 
from a vulnerable honesty--in her work.

You need to read her. 

Child Within

 


I.

A little girl sits on a bench,
swings her legs 
and reads from her book 
of a thousand and one jokes.

I glimpse, in that act, 
a young woman,

and I am thrilled
and deeply
shaken
at once.


II.

A look crosses a woman’s face, 
flashes 

for less than a moment,
too fast 
to be
more than
barely seen.
The girl that once was
comes passing through
a passing thought 

and is caught  
—only not caught—

and gone before 
she is known 
for what she is
or what she was,

left with only the 
memory of 
an expression
of memory

passed beneath the surface.

The little girl is gone.




III.

A little boy cries out
from an old 
man’s face,
 
the sad one,
the lost one, 
the last one, 

beyond comprehension 
of a hard-won heart.

The learned self-given healing

—even that—
is gone.

Pain 
as can only be known
to a child is

carried on and on,
a burden that one 
never wants to open.
 


IV.

A son is asked 
by his father

—but it is the cry of the lost boy,
ripped from somewhere deep 
in the old man’s throat—

“Will you be my mommy?”

How can a son answer this,
when his father does the asking?

Is this what it feels like to be born?
To lose forever the warmth
that is still (but now only) 
known from within?

We find us both 
lost past longing
and long past lost.

Incomprehensible  
why this happens to any of us,
this slap that is existence.

A son is carried by his father
for so many years that he is
shocked to realize he is no 
longer being carried, surprised
to find himself standing with 
his own legs under him.


V.

A little girl sits on a bench,
swings her legs 
and reads her book 
of a thousand and one jokes.

I glimpse, in that act, 
a young woman,

and I am thrilled
and deeply
shaken
at once.





It was….

(…an abecedarian…)

 

It was...

…about this time that I decided to
become the list, to see and feel what
came next, to know from within the
dead weight and heft of
every single 
form that I could fathom, the
grand scheme (if you will) of this
healing human game that has played
into (and out of) our history in countless ways for countless days,
jogging our memory, not judging us exactly, but still
keeping an eye on us from—
lying just there—just inside the door,
measuring and metering and giving
nonce notices from the threshold,
once in a while letting us 
pretend to be in control, 
(queer as that may seem) while still and stilly and quietly		
reassuring us about our lacks at the same time, and 
stretching us ever-so-gently, nursing us at the beginning and at the end, taking its
time with us, not leading us directly to (never that!) but at least pointing us 
                              ever more towards
understanding, placing things in our paths with the utmost 
veneration, teaching us the value and deep, deep roots of our
wonder, opening and reopening us, encouraging us to not fixate on the
x-y axis of every single thing around us, while still reminding us of the value 
                              of anchors,
yearning for us still and always to always and still reach somehow beyond our
zenith, and maybe—just maybe—helping us to get out there, somewhere just a 
                              little bit closer to it.





O.P.P. #13 — Carolyn’s witnessing…

Day 13 of National Poetry Month.

And we are looking at things that we do not want to look at…


Time Colonel



by Carolyn Forché


WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD is true. I was in his house. His wife carried
a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went   
out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the
cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over
the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English.
Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to
scoop the kneecaps from a man's legs or cut his hands to lace. On
the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had
dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for
calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of
bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief
commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was
some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot
said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed
himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say
nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries
home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like
dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one
of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water
glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As
for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck them-
selves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last
of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some
of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the
ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.
                                                                                     May 1978