[Authors Note: The poems in this suite (cor)respond to a group of ancient Akkadian exorcism incantations, several of which I first discovered in the form of Jewish-Aramaic adaptations in the Babylonian Talmud. I read the radical hybridity of the Talmudic discourse here as both precedent for, & invitation to, my own contemporary translinguistic praxis, one which engages writing as a mode of perpetual displacement—translating languages in wide spirals out-ward, to the farthest edges of the sonic/semantic divide—while gleaning materials for poetics from even the most minute residues left behind. I’ve begun, in these terms, to compose & transpose from homophonic transliterations, as well as Aramaic & Hebrew translations, of the Akkadian spells, stitching together poems from the translingual dregs between the gaps of the adapted texts.
The phrase, “Lick and Spit”, I take from the Ashkenazi-Jewish folkloric expectoration ritual of licking a person’s forehead three times, spitting between each lick—a physical gesture I associate most closely with the act of sucking venom from a snake bite—in order to excise the “evil eye” from the body. I continue here then my ongoing inquiry into the tense & intensive micro-socio-poetic ritual relations between translingual utterance, psycholinguistic stigma & the pre-literary Jewish curse. –A.R.]