Novalis writes, “Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.” That is to say if my wounds are reasonable or my afflicters are reasonable people. My reaction to my wounds, are they not reasonable too?
Novalis is the reason why I am looking for answers in Lyn Hejinian’s essay, “Reason.” It’s a concept floundering between boundaries.
War is not the collapse of reason. Look at how it is legislated. Is it not reasonable that I go to war? Any poet, who makes a subject out of war and yet is safe from its atrocities, should find embedment a reasonable opportunity to seize authenticity.
Novalis died at 28. Now, how would he have answered for “the soul wound?” A wound shared across time and space, passed from generation to generation, a storyteller’s wound, an heirloom of unrequited prose. And I say storyteller’s wound because what reassures my observation stems from a video presentation of Terry Tafoya’s healing practice and the use of Therapeutic Metaphor, Therapeutic Storytelling, Therapeutic Storymaking in Professor Hertha Sweet Wong’s Junior Seminar: American Environmental Literature, Fall 1999.
On YouTube, the Tibetan monk claims, that while he was in a Chinese prison, he was in danger of losing his Compassion. Later videos capture meditative poses never seen before. Levity exhales toxins.
Without a country, there’s an absence of Nationalism. Diaspora spreads what was radically not there.
My prisonhouse of the mind is a different collective interrogation. I had “imagined” a community and what I got was a penal colony.
I know Compassion is the path to take. Simply said. But undone. Compassion! My fist! To be the spitting image of Compassion? My son before he entered public school. He is the spitting image of what I was in second grade, before second grade fights, bloody noses, and gratuitous swearing and profanity. No, he was the spitting image of compassion until he realized the world just shrugs off his sorrow, having two inconsolable parents. What have I done with Compassion? My serrated blade! Has Compassion abandoned me? When Compassion spits at me. Let me have my retribution, my justice, only then I will lead a life of Compassion afterwards. Hah! Loathsome dialectic, why I am quiet and restrained, to behold aghast the irony of it all, wanton bloodlust mediated and prohibited by law. 2 years ago I was offered a pistol. When I refused, my benefactor offered to take care of business on my behalf. A second benefactor offered his services, tried to convince me it had to be done. I refused. A third benefactor offered his services, thinking his way was less messy. I also refused. I want(ed?) a justice that will let me get away with murder. Alas poor Yorick, the betrayal is that deep. 3 transgressors spared the wrath of 3 assassins. How soundly do they breathe and gloat—having gotten away. Don’t they owe me their lives? And I continue to pay the price. In some countries, the father casts the first stone, followed by the husband, and the son throwing third. Followed by every male relative getting his turn. Communities are supposed to take care of their own. My confession is my catharsis. So I can move on. In other countries, my compassion (if its called that), I would be called weak not to return the violence.
The Army will put a rifle in my hands and call me righteous.
I am sentenced to this page. Let the panoptic confine intention.
My Intramuros. Can you meet me outside of it?
By now I had expected to be dressed in pixilated desert camouflage. The Army has not cleared my request for a waiver. So far I have lost an inch off my waist size, on my way to a 4-pack. LOL. I haven’t had 4-pack abs since I was 21-years old. Nonetheless, every additional day with my son is a miracle. Soon I will assuage his disappointment, football season is over, but alas the Winter Olympics in Vancouver are on.
Every additional day spent with friends is a blessing in disguise. I am permitted the leisure to make sense of a literary trajectory, my living an organic poetic life, pursuing leads to an immeasurable Truth, a phenomenology of, a reading here, then a reading there, a lecture, a concert, a gallery, a club, a warehouse, tracking evidence of a theory of self, or an intelligent design, of constellated cognates, orbiting the intermediary of plot and plod, like Tamaraws in a murky wake of verses, of betweenness and breaks, aha, the absurd and the obscene, simultaneously refining the materiality of thought. Is it or is it not? Indra enjambs all our waking dreams in the timeless infinitive.
Where do we meet if not in Intramuros?
Imagine a rough draft:
The Dark Continent. Laments the Zambal. Heart palm weaves febrile interstates, the fontanel strange, the navel stranger, alas, a waist, an insurgent clavicle, these thighs and culverts beneath oil, skins subduct palay, moonless in sobriety, these stirrups measuring syn-cope these bronchioles inebriate, her lens ill-luminated and ill embraced.
Where do we meet if not Intramuros?
In dark spaces? In dark faultlines? In dark eccentricities? In dark corridors? These tulips silent between soft shoulder north bound abrade walled cities. In commuted sentence? Discorded syn tax? In unmetered syn thesis? In dark orbits syn chronous? Their tulips brave. Satellites in abeyance. Stained emancipation.
Where do we meet if not Intramuros?
In dark transactions? In dark economies? In dark virtual correspondence? In dark prisonhouses of the mind? In abattoirs? In archives? In convalescence? In concussion? In cloister? In salvage yard? In estuarine tunnel? In reading room?
Tenements expire, the little boy in the sand illiterate he wants to be, penitent and yet a paddy shark surrendering to fish nets aspirant sun light.
Parchment? Reed? In extradited ballad? Riprap and fleshette. In dystopic lyric? Bewildered truant and brinkship. In Stoic myopia? Conspiring cleft and censure In requited conjugation and/or conjunction?
Are not all palisades the same? Tulips tumbling down. Tulips slip the gravel bed. Tulips repute “fouled compass.” Tulips tumble down tumble down.
Where do we meet if not Intramuros?
Dark transmissions? Captive in native light malingering ink blot
Dark emplotments? Fictions confess the con-vex, this charade? Dark invaginate shoals? Impaired by inflorescence and narcotic viscous tongue.
This is a political act tyranny knocking knocking, knocking so. Dissolve this epilepsy we choose as un-venomous hounds than debase prior contracts.
Sargassum? Umbrage? Negritude? Occllusion?
Tulips displace gravel among freightliners and sedans, greyhounds and coupes, negotiate arrhythmia.
Profanities? Infirmaries? Iniquities? Jurisdictions?
Tulips slip gravelly, flatbeds, locomotives, highwaymen, streetcars sustain infection in contrite margin, far point, in fugitive time, in fugitive space.
Are they the same palisades?
Where do we meet if not Intramuros?
Our probation. Dark circumventions? Dark syn clines? Dark liturgies? Dark convictions?
Resinous extenuations shell the mind. Brief bituminous encounters, the stereo- bate while tradewind and out inter-cession sibilant, senescent, robust debris in the timeless infinitive, a raven’s appetite found estranged in lamp rays reticulate need instruction, need solace, need inflection.
In corn thicket? In zebu pasture? In rice terrace? In mango grove?
Do we fake lines in the incumbency of our blurred wildness needs converts, conversion, conversation?
Dark slippages. Dark lispages. Dark tunics. Tulips slip and now there is one alas, Luneta. Yes, we who stargaze our covert hands cannot hold in this dry land.
Where do we meet if not Intramuros?
Dark Cypriots avast crude prairie, mills pediment and sloping picket puddle and our time blemish strophe or strobe track abject arms, nothing We at least promised.
Dark calyxes. Dark determinates. Dark androeciums. Dark Continents.
OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE
CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR
Ubiquity is thus described. Always in transit. Where do we meet if not on the page? There’s a reading tonight. Do you want to go?
The Santa Cruz Mountains nephritic eastern slope framed by Spanish-tile rooftops punctuates a yearning. This is where I want to be: Stanford. It’s 10am at the Trans-poetic Exchange: Around Blanco and “Campos De Paz” Colloquium. Against the doorjamb of the Terrace Room, on the fourth floor in Margaret Jacks Hall, Professor Joan Ramon Resina reading the introductory remarks, I am still composing a poem, this time about lilies, an attempt continued from the night before shortly after Jocelyn Saidenberg read “Syndication” from Cusp (2001) at the Kelsey St. Press “Authors” reading at Books & Bookshelves. The last three lines
all i ever wanted to be was a soldier
i march on and pivot
was an eerie reminder of the 9 years of war.
During the Fall Semester 2002, guest-reading at Chet Wiener’s Monday night Writers on Writing class, San Francisco State University, was the first time I had heard her read from Cusp. The book is as old as the War on Terror. It made me think of the tussle between two male poets, Drew Gardner and K. Silem Mohammad, and how Gina Goldblatt settled the question with her own poem, “Chicks Don’t Dig War.”
But, for that hour, I did not want to think about the War.
But the War reasserted itself, in the drone of Saidenberg’s voice. Collateral damage?
A voice of remission? Of resignation? And soon that voice reached back 7 years and to the Valentine’s Day 2003 Open Mic at UC Berkeley. On Friday the 13th, I read:
“The War Correspondent / And then. Would you accept the flag?” If I go off to war will you still love me?
If I get off on war will you still love me?
If I reenlist will you still love me?
If I request a commission will you still love me?
If I cut off my hair will you still love me?
If I coopt my idealism will you still love me?
If I shoot to kill will you still love me?
If I am shot with the anthrax vaccine will you still love me?
If I return half a man will you still love me?
If I return a man killer will you still love me?
If I claim patriotism will you still love me?
If I censure your anti-imperialism will you still love me?
And If I do reenlist will you still love me if I shoot civilians?
And If I do earn a commission will you still love me if I order civilians shot?
If I tell you thinking of you kept me alive will you still love me?
If I tell you I couldn’t help killing people to stay alive will you still love me?
If I tell you I will fight on your behalf whether you like it or not will you bring me home?
Will you still love me?
Will you still love me?
And if I am dead will you still love me?
If I die for a cause you didn’t believe in will you still love me?
Yes, even as early as 2003, I thought of re-entering the military.
I was swaying in the back by the door with a beer in my hands thinking how easily I can slip out and no one at the reading would have noticed I had left.
Then Ramsay Breslin, next on the Kelsey St. Press line-up, read “Irises” from Four Year Old Girl (1998) on behalf of Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge.
Her image of you, a transparency on her desire, is like a contact print of irises on film. / Their shallow space implies expansion within it of irises and shadows against a blue wall. / So she proposes a soul of fine-grained material, in order to hold this promise, / like ghosts above a pond taking heat, blurring its register over itself.
And so it was Berssenbrugge’s war-less “Irises” that set me to thinking about lilies. I wanted to write a poem about lilies. How difficult would that be? The poem continued:
No one can describe the relation between an experience / that needs to be communicated and the form of that communication. / It lies next to its form.
I repeated those words to myself. Two bodies meeting in bed, how peaceful they are in each other’s arms. A floral form? How quiet. How tacit. I sloshed those words on my tongue, thinking about Genine Lentine’s “which serve first to shew how constant” and Leslie Scalapino’s “Not Hearing but making sounds. They are one, in quiet.” Though, I attribute Lentine, I had found out through her the source material: On Growth and Form (1917) by Sir D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson.
D’Arcy’s “Allometry” can be defined by excerpting Berssenbrugge’s “Irises”:
A Metaphor interpreted / as occurrence became her method for only remembering objects which exist in the same size / as their image in her mind, ladyslipper behind the eyesocket, pollen falling through interstices / of her brain cells, as if exact scale were the fallible touchstone for her intention. / Lily pads sketch out the foreground of the pond.
In the morning, I continued to think of green stalks, “shaped like celery,” the measure of any man or woman, and the hunger for its poison, its spadix, the assassin’s hood. I drove south on 880, took the 237 interchange to Mountain View, then 101 North to Palo Alto, but elusive was the opening line of a poem about lilies.
Then suddenly, and I rarely rarely use the word suddenly, long after Resina had stepped down from the podium, unbeknownst to me of the switch, I am swaying to Professor Enrico Mario Santi’s (University of Kentucky) presentation “On the Presence of Absence,” the Tantric origins of Octavio Paz’s Blanco.
I was thinking how Lake Lagunita could be my Walden.
Blanco was epiphanic:
el comienzo / el cimiento / la simiente / la tente / la palabra en la punta de la lengua / impar / inaudita / inaudible / gravida / nula / sin edad / la enterrada con los ojos abiertos / la palabra / inocente / promiscua / sin nombre / sin habla
(a stirring / a steering / a seedling / sleeping / the word at the tip of the tongue / matchless / unheard / unheardable / fertile / barren / ageless / she who was buried with open eyes / the word / stainless / promiscuous / speechless / nameless)
And sure enough I felt how the poem is located in a continuity: which serve first to shew how constant—the word at the tip of the tongue—she who was buried with open eyes—no one can describe the relationship between an experience that needs to be communicated—not hearing but making sounds—they are one, in quiet.
And the interweaving proceeded to reveal itself to me, uncanny and familiar.
El habla / irreal / da realidad al silencio / Callar / es un tejido de lenguaje / Silencio
(Unreal / speech / brings reality to silence / Keeping still / is a strand of language / Silence)
That I understood a little more about burying into the silence of another, a transient promoted to her bed, the glow of her rest, the privilege of being such a witness. The calamity of words, absent, just breath. Yes, that partnered breathing. Its curvature. So much, I wanted “her” to understand. Wishing “she” was here.
Tu cuerpo / derramado en mi cuerpo / visto / desvanecido / da realidad a la Mirada
(Your body / spilled on my body / seen / dissolved / brings reality to seeing)
Threads were descending to a mitochondrial eve, Novalis = Emerson = Nietzsche = Ocatavio Paz = Lyn Hejinian = Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge = Leslie Scalapino = Jocelyn Saidenberg = Genine Lentine, and these names were the first ones I thought of, linked in a similar soulful quest.
But wait, don’t mistake the betrayal of 2-years ago the only source of my soul wound. My soul wound is greater than the inconvenience of that marriage and divorce, greater than the cuckoldry, greater than the phantomness of fatherhood, greater than the false-love engendered at the altar, greater than the hatred for the community that kept silent, greater than my na ïveté or misplaced faith. If anything, these events deepened the rupture of my wellbeing. Imagine, a poet chosen to be the family storyteller, to bear and remember the stories from the generations, to be entrusted with everyone’s secrets, and to be the one who knows everything, to be the nexus of all those horrors and ghosts. Yes, the soul can take so much. The soul can rebel.
When one cannot find reason, then how to embrace the soul wound. Writing long poems was my way to describe the context that drives me to silence. To Quietude. If I cannot say what I feel, then I will describe the moment, the context, the environment, the stimulus that finds me and provokes me to feel a “soul wound.” Because the soul is so wounded, that speech acts are impaired, I relate on the psychic level, there’s a knowing, that to find a lover with a soul wound, what pleasure. Have our soul wounds cancel each other out? Alas, I am that orphaned antecedent. In Santi’s words, that “silence after the word” or “the reality that is untouchable and unsayable.” If I look like I am thinking when I shouldn’t be, it is my soul taking hold, and perhaps, I found a passage, such as a key, to firm my footing, or an exit out, and I am constantly deleting myself of my inheritance.
Such is my journey. And although, I have described this journey textually time and again, the poem that best describes the poet’s exhaustion locating and relocating, being here and everywhere at once, and what led me to write is “The Dark Continent” from The Best American Poetry 2004, guest-edited by Lyn Hejinian and perhaps it is dedicated to the poetic community that edition represents, and certainly to the poem’s origins in a heated Emeryville condominium pool, where gathered a cohort of UC Berkeley undergraduate poets (Emily Beall, Nadine Dabby, Jamie Yosha, Bob Hsiao, Mike Kim, Tom Behrman, Sarah Mourra, Jane Malcolm, Bettina Van Lengeric (not a poet, but a friend of poetry), and myself. It was October 2002, my relationship with R. was one week old, the theme was decided at the previous poetry group. Love poetry, and the ideal was to bring laminated pages into the pool. Waterproofed love poetry.
No one brought laminated poetry. Mine was adlibbed.
Imagine 5 women in swim suits, 5 men in swim trunks, beer, the pool like a cauldron, steaming, the babble of injectors, past 10 pm, I am last to “read,” so I wade to the middle, everyone else resting against the edge. Perhaps I looked like a lotus. Yes, I was a lotus. The tattoo erupting from the base of my neck, and its corm below it occupying much of my back, pregnant with the three-eyed prophet. I closed my eyes and entered into an image of R.:
Intimacy if we can [intimate] an
Other way what difference our hands
Unrest conceive division
s our hands conceive
thighs, tightness, tense, trill, trail or trial?
“Let’s be logical.”
“Let’s be logical.”
Your panties. I was
Let us be
To get to. Between legs.
To get to. Between lisps.
It is a dark passage we share in the lightout to get to lips.
To my surprise, the cohort giggled and jeered. They didn’t know that I was serious. I knew I needed to do something to block out their laughter otherwise the poem would flop. I opened my eyes and saw Bettina in the corner. She was quiet, pensive, focused. So the cliché: our eyes locked, so I thought, and that prevented the dizzying combo of voices from undermining the narrative. I held on to her silence and continued:
“We have to be logical.” You orgasm.
“I’m on my period.” You say.
I taste but cannot confirm.
I take of my pants. Logic
I take of my shirt. Logic
I take of my socks. logic
There are halfway houses found only on the elliptical / orbits of mad poets. There are halfway houses in need of / us. Need. Yes. There are mad poets needing.
Show me the intersection that finds / us unlocked to the barrenness of words / on this continent we cannot refuse this night
“What do you want to do?” You defer to me. Hours / later in the curtainfilter of your bedroom sunlight you say / “that would make a great picture”: my hand rest
your crotch. What Culvert. or Palisade. Rampart. or Strife. / Subduction. or Sanctuary. We may speak littorally and we may / never speak literarily of unknown reconnoiter my fingers
probing, my other hand resting a Corona purchased from / the night before at the 7-11 on Taraval, we watch the bottle sweat / to my wrist and to “the hinge” of your body and
to your three week old queen futon delivered the same day I drove / you home for the first time from class. Is this Arcadia? and I / you / convert to communion and/or conjunction fjording
intersections of canal or street
intersections of incandescence
intersections of influence
“Milk for the laity” asked the common / priest to his uncommon flock court holding / hot milking cold cow cowl warm
at what altar we acolytes were discomfited / to what premise we were unfrocked / at what first intersection we deceived fear
to meet discalced and armored
of our awkward apostasy we proof images
track deviant lines
disobey evenness gravity
with nimbus cropped and
I Arcadia. A stop on what lost week
end of roads
your missionary position what is
your unmissionary position what is
what confession is your duress
the pediment firms us on the shoulder of interstates / the fixating highwaymen’s stroboscope / the drunken tumbleweeds
have you ever jerked to the side / have you ever measured the fallow shoulder / have you ever dissolved into the rearview mirror
meeting innkeepers and strays
confident in abandon and antiphon
confident in eccentricity
confident in gravity’s elastic
and is your dire need your dyer need your diarist need / helmet and sprung for the charged gun’s inflow / what rupture what structure strop and strap
to unknow and undo
what boxstrut what boxtrap
scissors and caesuras is
palimpsest at what angle I want to ask are
you conceiving deference
our hands believe impersonate
and your navel I stare
By now my swaying, my form, my consistent tenor undeterred—the cohort’s laughter ambivalent and spotty, unsure of their own self-propagating humor. The forthcoming lines would provoke certain peels. So the deeper I went, beyond the iris, down her optic nerve, in to a vision thing.
Have you ever been in
a woman’s vagina for seven hours
ask them I will
It was fluid
It was wet
It was flowing
It was fluid wetness flowing warm hours / like a hot tub outdoors and the stars / lifted on chlorinated thermals
It was fluid wetness flowing seven warm hours / like a hot mineral spring and the stars undone / by rhizomous thermals
It was fluid wetness years flowing / into seven seconds / like a womb before it becomes heretical
or I might say Bison Brewery’s Hibiscus Hard Ice Tea / I drank too much / or I might say I freaked out on acid
or I might say the Chiropractor passed the pipe packed of Train / Wreck after a moribund game of chess / or I might say Park Street’s Arco 87 sold at $1.35 a gallon
Ever drive to Lompoc for Pea Soup / Take the Grapevine to hear poets read in Santa Monica / Ever lighten the trunk of the spare transmission and remove
volumes of poetry from the backseat of a Tempo and replace them / with Snickers, shrimp Cup-O-Noodles, and Red Bulls, / caffeine and ginseng pills and take the southern route to
Providence / Ever look forward to the next rest stop or gas station hoping / for directions to Arcadia?
Dark passages wait for us
Tollkeepers wait for us
Billboards wait for us
“That would make a great picture,” you say again / sleeping my head off / on the down of your pubic hair
I stare at calamity avoided
I stare for finity
I stare between drinking—at what
fright filled hour do I stop sleeping / this waist land a rest stop / and I ask you is it safe
that I am an intellectual, a yes and a no question / and before I subsume my tongue into your navel I say / omphalos and you understand the center of the universe
we both read mythologists and psychoanalysts / they did not teach me Greek but a lover of Bartók / who said 7 years ago my smoking was my girlfriend
substitute. You now wish to smoke / and are not our bodies smoke / you / I arrhythmic phantoms in Arcadia?
Don’t you see at what focal stop? / Don’t you see at what colored corrected lens? / see what degenerate vision our fetal positions
trembling hand caving calyx / lynx what slink wolfishness / what dropsy what drink
at what borderland barstool / at what busdepot lockerroom / at what famished evening writers’ event
what impenetrate your inselberg / no novice berm rises rises / rotund and infirm
no covenant or hackneyed convent / cistern or sewage / trowel or towel or tower or towering
who lurks in what colonial acropolis waiting to steal / aboard streaming convoy from steaming convoy / cruising edge of empires
what journeys to seizured spice islands / of epileptic serpents and serpent-eating eagles / of fledgling princes and mango princesses?
Yes.They are mad
poets need unrest.
They are mad
poets need undress.
Privations and depravations and impregnations / and are they shades and/or striations / you ask when we emerge what will we say to them
I repeated that place of cruel sacrifice, to call upon the gods to rip my soul from flesh.
It was as if I was addressing her and that gave me the motivation to plow forward, and in that literal space or littoral space, I was thinking of R, in that induced state of hers, afraid to venture out, and at the same time I wondered whatever happened to H, affectionate when bars separate desire, and so, was R substituting for H? And Bettina is now “something—launched in context.”
How do poets escape for the moment? It’s about being buried. It’s about escaping all moment. All agency. To refute the Modern. To refute the City. To take back the night. To find solace. Find Union. And yet the poem, found its material in a gaze.
None of my poems are in the provenance of just one person. Ron Loewinsohn’s Modernist American Literature influenced this plot also. When I think of R, she is T.S. Eliot’s “epileptic on the bed” from “Sweeney Erect” (1920) and Djuna Barnes’ Robin Vote from Nightwood (1936), combined.
A week or two before, I was gassing the Cherokee at the Arco in Alameda and planned that during my afternoon compute to San Francisco State University, I would compose a San Francisco poem based on T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” (1922) Part I. The Burial of the Dead:
Unreal City, / Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, / A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, / I had not thought death had undone so many.
Idle on the Bay Bridge, I was unsuccessful. But later in the pool, with the pressure to speak, the poem became.
It is to this same group, 6 years later in April, that the Sunday following the Crossroads: art, activism, and scholarship in response to Philippine state violence conference at UC Santa Cruz, where I paneled my MFA thesis “A Dark Continent Companion” that I decided to ask for help. While waiting outside of the Stevenson Events Center on a bench outside House Tens’ last apartment building, overlooking East Field, and beyond to Monterey Bay, I finally cried for my friend Tom Behrman, dead the past two years, from jumping in front of the Southbound E. What I could do? Similarly?
To the surviving group, I emailed the question: Define “Soul Wound.”
Is poetry “psychological management” or “psychological mismanagement?” Can poetry lead to meditative calm or reopen soul trauma?
Here are some results:
1. Soul wound definition: in Latin, the word psychiatrist means “doctor of the soul,” which I suppose means that our work is to heal wounds to the soul. Those who are wounded in this way usually have lost their ability to connect with the world, they are isolated in their lives and feel a deep deep pain that is often relieved temporarily with drugs, alcohol, sex, and destruction to their bodies. Soul wounds are those, which are sometimes caused by other people, and leave a deep mark on the person—whether this is abuse in childhood, trauma in adulthood or a relationship that destroys this person’s faith in ever being loved for who they are and gives them a cynicism about human relationships. Sometimes, disease of the mind and disease of the soul are the same. The person is left without the ability to connect with other people, to love work, to love others, to be able to feel a part of the world. They are left with a profound sense of emptiness that cannot be filled and a broken-ness of spirit. It is a state where the human emotions of sadness, anger, love, excitement, inspiration are replaced with indifference, ambivalence, and hollowness. (SM)
2. I guess the traditional concept of soul is somewhere outside the realm of my imagination at this time, as I have chosen to distance myself from belief systems within which the concept of it purveys. I guess I favor the concept of “spirit” or “consciousness” as expressed by the “New Age” movement—the idea that each of us possesses in our consciousness a minute fragment the greater superconsciousness (a.k.a. “God” or “Spirit” or “Universe”)…. I imagine that the “soul” or “spirit” is a part of the greater superconsciousness/God/Universe and is perfect, free from the traumas of the emotive senses of the physical world—to me, it lies beyond the ability of physical entities to create trauma. Humans receive physical wounds because they are made of fairly delicate biological material; human feelings can be wounded because they are created by a chain of neuronal connections to previous and perceived events/circumstances (nature/nurture) made throughout their lives and by the assessment/interpretation/judgment of circumstances on the physical/emotional/psychological plain by an individual mind.
I’m more apt to equate the popular concept of soul with what I call the emotive senses, the physical ability of the mind to be sensitive to the emotional/physical/psychological needs of the body, which it inhabits. For the emotive senses to be dulled, there must be some physical process which has occurred which has physically made the mind less receptive to identifying the physical/emotional/psychological needs of the mind/body/spirit. Because the spirit or soul does not inhabit the physical realm, it remains ever resilient, ever perfect in formlessness, abiding by the laws of the Universe/Superconsciousness/God and operates outside the laws of the physical world. If such a thing as soul exists, it is in all places at once, it is all things at once; it represents the totality of all possibilities in existence. To be harmed or damaged would suggest that a soul with a wound was not, by its nature of being all things at once and perfectly as things should be, perfect.
I suppose one could construe a human out of touch with spirit or consciousness (one which is experiencing negative emotions like fear, depression, anxiety, rage, confusion) as experiencing a soul wound: a response to an event or experience in the physical plain which has been so acute that (s)he is no longer able to focus on her/his physical/emotional/psychological needs (may be either conscious or unconscious). This to me is soul wound. A strong reaction to circumstances on the physical plane that prevent or complexify an individual’s ability to consciously strive for more desirable life circumstances. (JY)
3. The vowel pairing seems very important to me: the ou, its very long, from a low open potential it moves and drops further back in the mouth. Only after this careful reconfiguration of what’s already open can the tongue then meet with the top of the mouth to finish the sound.
What’s a soul wound—this sound patterning could suggest some difficult openness, an openness known, marked, and therefore perhaps defined by an eventual and slowly reached closure.
It seems like a form of memory. A form of memory that’s an embrace—the tension of which, however, must always remain constant, in its pressure or tautness. This would be different from other memories, since other memories fade or distort with use, and are constantly reshuffled, realigned and their tensions adjusted.
A soul wound might also be a badge, something one ‘wears’ in some fashion, a metaphysical tattoo, part of which might also simultaneously be manifested, somehow, on or near the body. In the way that it’s a badge, it marks, identifies, denotes some challenging experience from the past—although such manifestations could only, at most, be a metonymy, a part standing in for the never simultaneously comprehensible whole.
How does one stimulate a soul wound? How does one find it, locate it, attempt to name it—attempt because this dose seem like the kind of thing language or description will never itself completely embrace or constitute. (EB)
What is so soulful about “Blanco” is Professor Santi’s soulful and serendipitous conclusions as well reiterations of Kundalini, Yoga, Chakra—especially the 7th located outside of language, then Tantric diagesis, that the “ritual copulation of the yogi must refrain from ejaculation,” the mind inseminated with word, the poet pursuing to demonstrate the incapacity to represent thought, the form and sound of linguistic or poetic orgasm, the displacement of self, “the absent presence” and “the present absence.” The Dark Continent and the Dark Continent Companion made sense. The long poem, its long breath, demonstrates how presence illuminates the desire for absence, to be ritually one in quiet. Am I seeking for that person to be quiet with, and in our quiet, the entire world, revealed?
Though, I have had several fitful starts—beginning as early as 15-years old when I read Linda Schierse Leonard’s On the Way to the Wedding (1986) and immersed myself in everything Joseph Campbell, and everything Metallica and Pink Floyd, and everything Kitaro and U2, and every French film that appeared in Berkeley, and stopped serving the church as altar boy and instead served detention quite often, all the while wondered about the fate/s of 12 friends, each had attempted suicide more than twice, where did my ubiquitous nature reassert itself? Shortly after I became single again and became slowly aware of the more sinister factors at play, and on March 15, 2008, I went with my son to the Unitarian for the “Poetics of Healing: creative investigation in art, medicine, and somatic practice” curated by Eleni Stecopoulas, with the architect, Robert Kocik and the psychotherapist/hypnotherapist Eric Greenleaf reading. It was
Robert Kocik’s previous work that I was familiar. He previously read from Poetry May Take Any Substrate (including Poetry) at the Canessa Gallery in the Fall of 2002, and in a few days, was a guest in Stacy Doris’ Advanced Poetry Workshop. I shared that classroom space with Kathryn Pringle, Geneva Chao, and Barbara Jane Reyes. A formidable bunch. Yes, what would Novalis say about Kocik’s “Susceptible System”? I allowed myself to be fucked over. And now I allow myself to heal, such a long and ubiquitous process, a threadbare path to sacred union.
Greenleaf presented his studies on Balinese “therapeutic trance,” how despite the predominance of Western forms of healing such as talk therapy and medication, the mind and body needs ritual reenactment to facilitate therapy. Hence ritual crucifixion? And the nails blessed in vinegar. The wounded person needs to physically enact/perform recovery, on a stage, in public, with witnesses. If one is wounded, then the community is wounded. One’s healing is shared with the community, is celebrated. In contrast, but barely, Kocik offered his plans to recuperate the Greek Asclepieion, a temple dedicated to healing poets and storytellers overwhelmed literally by story, by tragedy. A poet’s subject can be toxic to the poet.
My swaying is a kind of trance state. I perform poetry in a trance-like state. When I bury myself in to her, in her bed, does she know, I am entering a trance state? Because I feel safe to do so? Where else can we meet if not Intramuros? In that chakra outside of language, beyond the barrenness of words, free of Reason and the boundaries suggesting its form, adrift on rhizomous thermals.
And when I think of Therapeutic Metaphor. It’s an approximation. The story is bigger than me, but I have been selected to tell it. This is the pistol. But I choose to load it wisely. The bullet’s narrative trajectory. It’s arc influenced by gravity, the amount of powder loaded in its casing, the nudge of wind, the distance of narrator’s pov. And because poetry admits to the unreliability of words, will you still love me?
Now that poem about lilies:
Calla y Calla
What would the orthophonic semiotician do with the opening Callas atop the Victrola cabinet? Is it rupture or rapture? Vulva or Phallus? Parable or Axiom? Fouchards or Poisons? Baroque misgivings or menacing concrete significations? Set in a glass vase, recovered from a 100-year old building, sharing with the diminishing buckthorn, the banks of Strawberry Creek, half-filled with water, placed away from the window, can we assume a “Radical Absence” or a “Radical Presence.” Some inflorescences adjure the tacit harvest of words. We read between our movements and our gestures. Your hand cups my heart because it is overflowing. A kenning. A canto. A crenellation. A carotic. Remove the candle and life is still.