Poetry is the greatest force on Earth.
is no solution outside love.
Poetry is language in its highest and most far-reaching formlanguage
at once wide awake and dreaming, unrestricted by the fetters of
ideology, rationality, power, commerce, common sense, or other agencies
of the Reality Principle. "The day's armor is laid aside in the
apples of sleep" (Penelope Rosemont).
mere "self-expression," poetry is an activity of the mind
inseparable from the exaltation of life. More often than not it
is also a manifestation of the most philosophically rigorous humor.
"WHEN ONE KNOWS" (Jacques Vaché).
demonotonizes so-called ordinary language by challenging all forms
of accepted usagethat is, by provoking new and daring relations
between words, and setting them loose in the free play of desire.
"The tempest unleashes an alphabet / letters fall through the apertures
of crazy angles / to spell out the future" (Nancy Joyce Peters).
deimpossibilizes human freedom by letting the alchemical fire of
unheard-of images melt the walls of reified consciousness, thereby
at one stroke abolishing the slavery of the mind and raising the
stakes in the struggle to resolve the contradiction between everyday
life and the Marvelous. "The stone I have tossed into the air of
chance shall come to you one great day and exfoliate the original
scarab, the carbuncle of delights, the pomegranate inviolate, the
sonorous handkerchief of the Comte de Saint-Germain, all the reinvented
perfumes of ancient Egypt, the map of the earth in the Age of Libra
when the air shall distribute our foods" (Philip Lamantia).
who have the sense of poetry know that the most radical kind
of individual self-revelation and revolutionary social transformation
advance as one, hand in hand. "Tightrope of our hope" (Suzanne Césaire).
by lovemad, relentless, uncompromising, and, as ever,
surrealism's surest method of knowledgepoetry is the unfettered
imagination opening the way to the unfettered life.
Make Ifa make Ifa
make Ifa Ifa Ifa
In sanctified chalk
of my silver painted soot
In criss-crossing whelps
of my black belching smoke
In brass masking bones
of my bass droning moans
in hub cap bellow
of my hammer tap blow
In steel stance screech
of my zumbified flames
In electrified mouth
of my citified fumes
In bellified groan
of my countrified pound
In compulsivefied conga
of my soca moka jumbi
MAKE IFA MAKE IFA MAKE IFA IFA
eye popping punta
of my heat sucking sap
In cyclonic slobber
of my consultation pan
In snap jam combustion
of my banjoistic thumb
In sparkola flare
of my hoodoristic scream
In punched out ijuba
of my fire catching groove
In fungified funk
of my sambafied shakes
In amplified dents
of my petrified honks
In ping ponging bombs
of my scarified gongs
MAKE IFA MAKE IFA MAKE IFA IFA
* Ifa = a system of divination
developed by the Yoruba of Nigeria, based on the interpretation
of cowrie shells tossed on a tray.
The sky is a buffoon's
attempt to conceal chance. All is barefooted, one girl ponders the
woods. Which way shall she roam? Who knows, Chi sa? Anyway, my left
hand catches moths. Circles. The blue words fell from the sky and
nestled upon my breast. I told them stories until they slept peacefully.
Meanwhile, the barren wilderness became a sieve, I fell out. The bottom
went dry, crackling. A small stone, a smooth relic is now imbedded
inside my mind. I walked the weeded path calling out silly names like
"Balaco." No wonder the birds are crying. No wonder stars hurt in
whispers and the four winds taught us to dance. So many nights gathered
into one embryo. He grows up to paint his shack red, the door blood
red with a blue doorknob.
Casandra Stark Mele
(In Case of a Storm, 1995)
OF REASON, DAUGHTER OF DOUBT
to Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Father of Reason, Daughter of Doubt
African bees are nesting
On the rooftops
Of lower Manhattan
Mercurio's phrenological head swimming
The skies of green foam
Polluting the black tar honey
Lady Cyclops filled to the brim
her nightshirt full of
Ephedra's wooden mandibles
circles of her voluptuous rose
at the edge of a world
Held up by chopsticks
Currents of air evaporate
Into buckets of boiling rain water
washed over with dream constellations
the dreamer arises flowers
cascade to petal untouching
Halfs are wholed and realignments
adjust curious insects
who never touched before.
Past lives merge to drive powerful
ravaging flood currents.
The severed right hand is renewed by the left.
MY TRIP TO RUSSIA
a soft tap on the knob
invite a cabdriver
onto smooth waters
the counterpoint walk
inconvenient ballets take place
inside the encyclopedia
like a pack of cards
claimed by a purple line
on a vaulted ceiling
faithful as a lock
with the long-forgotten fragrance
of weird dream fragments
over a waterfall
(from Beware of the Ice & Other Poems, 1992)
She thought she married
a man, just like any other man, not a man with a single finger, always
pointed in accusation, nor a man named History. Dice. Cards. A broom.
A broomstick. A mop. A rag. A wet rag. A duster. A scrub brush. A
scrub brush holder. A nail in a wall. A wall without tears. A sink
with a running nose. A sink with a kidney infection. A sink with cramps.
A sink with dishpan hands. A stone bird. A stone bird from K-Mart.
A migrant flock. A tea plate. Hung on the wall. An illustrated plate.
The image of the Last Supper. This bread is my body. A photograph.
A man with full cheeks. A man choking on his food. His mouth hung
open. His hand covering it up. His manners impeccable. A preacher.
A glass top table. A glass top table filled with photographs. A cross.
A dangling icon. A pretty bauble. A prayer of the day. An illustrated
calendar. On the calendar, one day has been scratched out: far in
the futurenot only checked, x'd outthat day will not exist,
when it comes, it will not happen. The day she deceives her
husband, her hand and mind fantastically coordinated. She picks up
the phone, and her gesture throws a shadow of her hand clutching a
dark weapon. Using it, though her thoughts jar, she calls the numberpreserved
under the bowl where her dentures lay in frothy waterof a Realtor
who can tell her the value of her home. Breath sucking through her
gums, as she does when she is fitfully asleepthough she is hardly
asleep, though she is living a day that is outside her chronological
yearsshe calls with a wrinkled hand and, with an angry pencil,
MUST BE MIDNIGHT
It must be midnight
The doors configurate the planets
gripped in the tools
when I'm cognizant enough of the x-factor of immanence
the overtime vision
the rictus of forbidden
and the moon lean out of a window
(their elbows printing pearly smudges on the edge)
and watch across the darkening bay
the flute-playing, halted afternoon
paint mirror-palaces on the sky,
all wrapped in shrouds of glimmering spume.
a slow time of day.
Under the great archways on the shore
long, slanting shafts of light build ladders
for idle motes of summer dust
to wander upwards and get caught
in crystal cobwebs
severely etched against the encroaching night.
there is an aimless trip in progress,
a voyage without point or destination,
all frontiers barred;
a journey undertaken on the missing needle
of an old barometer.
(Where the Wolf Sings, 1994)
IN A POLAR GARDEN
tempest unleashes an alphabet
letters fall through the apertures of crazy angles
to spell out the future
uprooting the course of invention
and enslaving the masters
I calibrate the world and load my weapons
focus my eye down the bore of utopian plots
I'm looking for the binding energy of a look
a crop of reflections to be reaped
in a winter of thorn
when icebergs of illusion will melt
to be served at high tea
and the spaces between the poles pinned down
like insects dreaming of the giant eye
at the end of a microscope
just as the stars are dreaming
but they are laughing
I see myself in the smile of a polar bear
while turning the pages of an arctic sky
reading the delirious lines that
foretell the sovereignty of language
and the rule of invisible birds
(It's In the Wind, 1977)
My alphabet starts with X
and wends its way slowly
from L to Q via J
and the last three letters
on E and Z
then zooms to Y
hits high K
burns the bridges from A to D
twirls the B that comes before F
except after H
and rides roughshod
with N and G
(Black Knight to Queen's Bishop Three)
lets W and M stroll along together
hand in hand with Paracelsus
and ends up with a bright red
(From Lamps Hurled at the Stunning Algebra of Ants, 1990)