To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bruce Stater: from "The Journey of Metaphor & Remembrance" in Labyrinth of Vision

Say the poem is a journey taken with silent walking sticks on a path strewn with memories deaf, dumb, blind & beyond measure. Its mouth filled with words its pockets filled with stale bread. Say it is an elixir derived from chlorophyll or the royal jelly of expressionistic bees. Say its stops & turns are towers, shrines or little discomforts in sleep. That each of its shafts pierces a separate element of dream. That its bewildering sunlight is a glittering city where ecstasy dances hand in hand with death. It was something I went looking for. I was afraid of getting lost. & so I hid in the island of branching voices illuminated by the ubiquitous pathos of forgetting. Something had torn a hole in my heart like a leaf, extended finger, or bone. & so I stuck to the honey of something heavy & eternal-- a breath where celestial light fell in spurts dampening the pain of the infinite unmooring. Say that it is or say that it isn’t. Say that its exhibitions of false skies are symbols of a catastrophe at the dead ends of streets. Say that its arrangement of white sticky sugar skulls is the hypnotic process of forgetting former lives. That its burnt & empty homes are the paralyzed angels in the next century’s enactment of Paradise Lost. That its black tarantulas are seedlings or the trials of an affective disorder & that its iridescent scarabs are the ozone above a chronic facultative storm. That its conscience is a giant in the form of a dragon guarding the treasure of deceased gods. I felt my existence pressed against me like a heel piercing the grain of the bark of a fruitless mulberry tree. I remember it from childhood when its flesh stopped falling & its leaves turned a color of brilliant unfed reason that blistered in laughter at the raindrops which fell from the blue- silver patina of branches above. Say so much of its weight that it sinks ten times into the river traversed by smoldering bridges. & that the ash of these bridges turns to bone. & that inside these bones floodlights surge horizonward into the eclipse of solar meaning. I looked forward to it where dwelling circled in the sky in the form of a hand. My hair hung heavy at my side like the muscle & bone of a being drawn on a page outside of time. My tongue wagged this way & that inside the continent of my mind. Say it is circle, screen, or vessel. Or that its round is flat & drifts in-between this broadstone & that clenched idea of a terrible god. My arms weren’t what they used to be. When I pointed to a star or rooftop angry dogs barked in the distance while the shrill whistling of trains drove me further away from home. Into the hands of enemies who advanced on all sides in signs, light, doors, baskets, empty casements, hallways, grass, & mirrored reflections. Or say it is earth, sun, star, or moon the purple veil between this realm & the next, or paralyzed boat adrift upon the black sea of wintered orphans. Say it is the alchemical soup one swims through in a dream. I saw a light at the end of a tunnel which grew in distance the faster I ran to it. I was in the back seat & found that my vehicle drove on faster & faster completely out of control. Each of the immense clocks in my room had turned an insane color of red. My heart palpitated like the motion of a fish pulled from lake, stream, or sea. Say it is the daylight of fissure & sunwheel or the darkness of the muteness of moonlight. I learned to hunt & play in the shimmering starfoam of darkness-- I’ve heard the hyena & the tokay make noise by moonlight. In the circular music of their mouths my own screams ceased & I plunged into the depths of their secrets. . . . . . . . [Concerning Stater’s Labyrinth of Vision, the opening of the first section of which is presented here, I’ve written previously: "To say it quickly: Bruce Stater’s Labyrinth of Vision is little short of extraordinary – a work that ties language to a journey truly taken & a mind in extremis that acts to record it. Stater, as I read him, writes with a sense of imaginings that reminds me of a poet like Gerard de Nerval in his visionary prose work, Aurelia, where ‘dream is a second life’ & ‘an overflow’ into the everyday. As with Nerval & a small company of others, then & now, the vision & the language are inseparable: ‘a Journey of remembrance & metaphor,’ as the title of Stater’s first chapter tells us. If you want to take that as merely literature, feel free to do so; it is that & something more: a place where metaphor rings true & is – for the duration of the vision – the only truth there is. ‘It is light, it is dark,’ the old Aztecs said in defining their own labyrinths, & it is also the mark in Stater’s labyrinthine journey of a strong new voice in poetry.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing...
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