Feb 4, 2004

My Poetics

I wrote this a little while ago to explain what I believed my poetics to be. It has footnotes, but I don't know how to do that in Blogger, so they follow the text, apologies if it is a pain in the neck to read:

I write to set the river on fire. [FN1]

Amid the din of work and the commerce of narrative, [FN2] thoughts leave the marks of their mouths (the grins of their teeth, the spit on their tongues) on whatever surface is made available to them. These small wounds make poems when left undressed.

A poem comes into the world numb, dumb, and moaning for the attentions of the demon emotion. [FN3] It is made pretty through revision until ready to meet the eyes of the world unflinching, as a corpse is made ready for a wake. It is at this point that the demon has had its way with it and leaves the poem to recount: weeping, laughing or sleeping according to its nature.

Through its life, the poem will teach us that our dead cannot be reclaimed, the things that things without brains know, and the names of our doubles, if we're lucky. Our doubles who listen to each word we speak and shriek and cackle. [FN4]

The poem will forget what it speaks at the moment it is spoken. This speech is recorded as marks on the poem's body. The poem speaks most clearly, most musically those words that are written on its back, the balls of its feet. These assertions will run counter to those found on the hands, the forearms and the face of the poem. [FN5] Some say this speech is musical, some say it is like silence. [FN6] Some listen to this speech and mistake it for the sound of their watches. It is these people who comprise the majority of our populace.

Some poems lack certain limbs, some with flippers instead of legs, wasps' nests instead of heads. It is these poems we must listen to most carefully, the ones the demon emotion scorns and is secretly afraid of, the ones whose speech amongst themselves mimics the ticking of watches.

1. The river remembers every injustice done to it, the name of each person who has offered it a kindness & the stories of those injustices and those names. These stories move through the river in a kind of communal dream. The figures of this dream can be seen as shadows dancing in the flames when the river burns. The river burns only when no human eye is watching, a sight that birds know but cannot speak of.

2. Desire, acquisition, the release of desire, regret.

3. The angel emotion.

4. The existence of these doubles has been all but ignored by contemporary thought; the doubles of a few have been made known and assigned the names of particular deities.

5. Common practice in preliterate cultures is the recording of stories as pictures on the body. The practice is similar in literate cultures, but the recordings themselves move though the world as words, carried forth by the invisible bodies beneath them. These ghost-word bodies will inhabit our cities and occupy our homes when we are but dust; never speaking, the task of speech having been completed already.

6. "I can write a rhyme where nothin' rhymes,"--High Priest of the Antipop Consortium.

No comments: