HE SAID, MARIE, MARIE, HOLD ON TIGHT
~ The Waste Land, "The Burial of The Dead", Eliot
~ The Waste Land, "The Burial of The Dead", Eliot
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
i carry myself in myself
i stop to compose myself (i have composed myself) i carry myself in myself. i hold my hand, a sign of trust. palms, touching, prayer: a gesture of trust. i am rushing off again - evening class, will leaving classes when the lights have all come up. i am perpetually rushing, perpetually late. (In the line of Socrates, is justice ever too late? does not justice imply that there has to be loss). i have resumes to write (Interests: black chocolate, photography, parcels), pages to read (tomorrow: madrasah education in singapore and iran - so i have to carry the burden of representation, wampum poems and deontology) but i will carry myself in myself. trust me to carry myself in myself.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
is up and ready to be eaten. :)
many thanks to everyone who has been so wonderful and helpful and encouraging.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
that year; in those years; at that time; then; antonym, now, in these years, present, today.
trainstop (not sure if i got the translation right)
- jimmy, sound of colours
(the year the angel said goodbye to me at the entrance of the train station was the year i gradually stopped seeing. the day i turned 15 on an autumn morning, it was drizzling outside. i fed my cat, and at 5.55, i walked into the subway.)
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
the wages of dying is love
This is my favourite poem. Galway Kinnell was in newyork reading alongside Philip Levine last oct. There was a really lovely chemistry during the reading. Philip Levine was spindly and naughty; Galway Kinnell was dignified, between them were years of love, humour. and the reading was dignified, comfortably dignified, wine, tuxes, complacent and elegant, but strangely not uncomfortably formal. there was a certain gravity, heaviness, stillness about their voices. On the other hand, I always associate Singapore readings with lyricism; longing; wistfulness. when will we stop regretting?
+ on a side, american 15th century literature is difficult because it is alien, but i will make it work out.
Little Sleep's-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight
from The Book of Nightmares by Galway Kinnell
You scream, waking from a nightmare.
When I sleepwalk
into your room, and pick you up,
and hold you up in the moonlight, you cling to me
as if clinging could save us. I think
I will never die, I think I exude
to you the permanence of smoke or stars,
my broken arms heal themselves around you.
I have heard you tell
the sun, don't go down, I have stood by
as you told the flower, don't grow old,
don't die. Little Maud,
I would blow the flame out of your silver cup,
I would suck the rot from your fingernail,
I would brush your sprouting hair of the dying light,
I would scrape the rust off your ivory bones,
I would help death escape through the little ribs of your body,
I would alchemize the ashes of your cradle back into wood,
I would let nothing of you go, ever,
feel the clothes fall asleep in their hands,
and hens scratch their spell across hatchet blades,
and rats walk away from the cultures of the plague,
and iron twists weapons toward the true north,
and grease refuses to slide in the machinery of progress,
and men feel as free on earth as fleas on the bodies of men,
and lovers no longer whisper to the presence beside them in the
dark, O corpse-to-be ...
And yet perhaps this is the reason you cry,
this the nightmare you wake screaming from:
in the pre-trembling of a house that falls.
In a restaurant once, everyone
quietly eating, you clambered up
on my lap: to all
the mouthfuls rising toward
all the mouths, at the top of your voice
your one word, caca! caca! caca!
and each spoonful
stopped, a moment, in midair, in its withering
you cling because
I, like you, only sooner
than you, will go down
the path of vanished alphabets,
to the other side of the darkness,
like the shoes left behind,
like the adjectives in the halting speech
of old men,
which once could call up the lost nouns.
And you yourself,
some impossible Tuesday
in the year Two Thousand and Nine, will walk out
among the black stones
of the field, in the rain,
and the stones saying
over their one word, ci-gît, ci-gît, ci-gît,
and the raindrops
hitting you on the fontanel
over and over, and you standing there
unable to let them in.
If one day it happens
you find yourself with someone you love
in a café at one end
of the Pont Mirabeau, at the zinc bar
where white wine stands in upward opening glasses,
and if you commit then, as we did, the error
one day all this will only be memory,
as you stand
at this end of the bridge which arcs,
from love, you think, into enduring love,
learn to reach deeper
into the sorrows
to come – to touch
the almost imaginary bones
under the face, to hear under the laughter
the wind crying across the black stones. Kiss
which tells you, here,
here is the world. This mouth. This laughter. These temple bones.
The still undanced cadence of vanishing.
In the light the moon
sends back, I can see in your eyes
the hand that waved once
in my father's eyes, a tiny kite
wobbling far up in the twilight of his last look:
and the angel
of all mortal things lets go the string.
Back you go, into your crib.
The last blackbird lights up his gold wings: farewell.
Your eyes close inside your head,
in sleep. Already
in your dreams the hours begin to sing.
Little sleep's-head sprouting hair in the moonlight,
when I come back
we will go out together,
we will walk out together among
the ten thousand things,
each scratched too late with such knowledge, the wages
of dying is love.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Thursday, January 25 at 7PM
Anne Carson: Poetry and Dance
Housing Works proudly presents acclaimed poet Anne Carson’s “Possesive Used As Drink (Me): a lecture on pronouns in the form of fifteen sonnets” This very special performance features Anne Carson reading her poetry, accompanied by choreography and dance by Julie Cunningham, Rashaun Mitchell and Andrea Weber, members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
Monday, January 15, 2007
it's going to be a very difficult term ahead, but i'm starting an onlinejournal for art, movie reviews and poetry with zack called splitpapayas.
we thought through "brokenbowl", "breakingbowl", "explodingpapapas", "papayabombs", "mangobombs", and decided on "splitpapayas".
i'm very excited.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
who watch for my mistakes in grammar,
my mistakes in love
Perhaps it’s a problem of syntax.
I'm thinking of you on Zuma, nineteen and recovering from brain surgery, writing haikus in a private language.
Merleau-Ponty: we move through language like a fish swims through water. I read Merleau-Ponty like any other poem; I might have made the line up; I've forgotten the rest of the essay but I love the economy of that line. We move through language, not language through us, or exactly that: we move through language and it moves through us. Locke thought that words were signs superimposed on ideas, ideas were the stuff of thoughts/of our minds, words take meaning from the ideas they overlay. Merleau-Ponty said (Saussure said) words take meaning from the relations between them. To see the edge of each word and not to fall into the space between them, we have to move like a fish swims through water. In its element. Of necessity. As a fish takes in air by filtering the water through its gills, keeping the water out. If we are to breathe underwater, if we are not to drown in language, if we are not to suffocate outside it.
Coming back to language, after all. The fierce joy circling beneath the words. Whatever else is there.
[This is the poem I was afraid to write:
What happens after grief has dried up?
You learn to breathe again.]
I still think you romanticise New York too much.
Last day in New York, I took the train down to Coney Island to look for Woody Allen's house under the roller-coaster and to see the old Russians in fur coats on the beach. I couldn't find either, but I did find the Aquarium and went in with all the little kids to see the jellyfish and the penguins and the whales (were they the beluga whales Geryon saw, as alive as he was / on their side / of the terrible slopes on time?). You brought me back a penguin the time you went with Laurie and Stevie and his friend. Perhaps I should have gone with you, to race along the Boardwalk with the kids, to be bewildered and charmed by your second family, the Jewishness, the closeness, the startling normality of it all. I didn't go with you and the Levines to Chinatown, either, to celebrate the end of Passover (was it Passover?); I stayed at home to read Hannah Arendt and later slipped out to a bar down on 96th to hear Carolyn Leonhart sing the glass songs. At home; it was home for me in that unsettled way, the tiny rooms on 110th, the dim crowdedness of the Hungarian, the winds that ran straight along the city grid. I never stopped marvelling at the way the city was laid out all in grids; it made getting lost so much less permanent. I didn't come from a place of mountains and ocean, as you did; I came from three years of rain and cobblestones and the heartbreaking beauty of the Radcliffe Camera; I came from a desire to run away and to stop running away and simply to stop, for a time; I was content to let the city stay strange, indifferent, inexhaustible. (Oxford, you see, I am bound to; I knew every corner of it.) It's a different city I remember now and a different city from what we shared, whatever we had of it; memory lights a different city every night, and it was always a city that wore other memories; it was Woody Allen's city, and Susan Sontag's city, and Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac's and there was the West End where they had gotten drunk, and W. H. Auden’s dive on 55th Street, and Adrienne Rich's this island of Manhattan is island enough for me and of course the city of Frank O'Hara and Kenneth Koch, you gave them to me later. You're mixed up in my memory with New York, inseparable from the city you hate and equally fictitious. What kind of grand love affair was it, could it have been? Three months, maybe a little more, to get used to the idea of leaving. I have a spindleful of CDs, fond memories of bagels, the collected Stevens; what did I leave you with?
– that no return to the past is without irony, or without a sense that a full return, or repatriation, is impossible. (Edward Said, Reflections on Exile)
By Koh Tsin Yen
QLRS Vol. 3 No. 3 Apr 2004
I can see her poem. The streets. The sense of departure. Yes, leaving for New York will steal your soul, capture your imagination and possibly break your heart.
Its four in the morning, the end of December
I'm writing you now just to see if youre better
New York is cold, but I like where I'm living
Theres music on Clinton Street all through the evening.
I hear that you're building your little house deep in the desert
You're living for nothing now, I hope you're keeping some kind of record.
Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear
Did you ever go clear?
Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
Youd been to the station to meet every train
And you came home without lil marlene
And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
And when she came back she was nobody's wife.
Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
One more thin gypsy thief
Well I see Jane's awake --
She sends her regards.
And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
What can I possibly say?
I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
Im glad you stood in my way.
If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me
Your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.
Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good so I never tried.
And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear
Leonard Cohen once said in an interview that Famous Blue Raincoat - "It's one of the better tunes I've written but lyrically it's too mysterious, too unclear". I love it. I remember listening to it alone, sitting on a bench with my dog ralph in a playground at night last year, thinking about the triangles in our lives.
lightness and heaviness
If every second of our lives recurs an infinite number of times, we are nailed to eternity as Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross. It is a terrifying prospect. In the world of eternal return the weight of unbearable responsibility lies heavy on every move we make. That is why Nietzsche called the idea of eternal return the heaviest of burdens (das schwerste Gewicht).
If eternal return is the heaviest of burdens, then our lives can stand out against it in all their splendid lightness.
But is heaviness truly deplorable and lightness splendid?
The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in the love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man's body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life's most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.
Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.
What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?
Parmenides posed this very question in the sixth century before Christ. He saw the world divided into pairs of opposites: light/darkness, fineness/coarseness, warmth/cold, being/nonbeing. One half of the opposition he called positive (light, fineness, warmth, being), the other negative. We might find this division into positive and negative poles childishly simple except for one difficulty: which one is positive, weight or lightness?
Parmenides responded: lightness is positive, weight negative.
Was he correct or not? That is the question. The only certainty is: the lightness/weight opposition is the most mysterious, most ambiguous of all.
Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
[me] dawn, singapore, new york city, ithaca.
holding on tight -- vol ii
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