Monday, April 20, 2020

Anne Waldman's SANCTUARY, Marc Zegans' THE SNOW DEAD


Anne Waldman's SANCTUARY (Spuyten Duyvil, spuytenduyvil.net)  is a mind bending book of poems with wonderful collages by T Thilleman. Anne Waldman is an renowned poet and founding member of the "Outsider" experimental poetry community. She has read in the streets, as well as Casa Del Lago in Mexico City, the Dodge Lit Festival in the U.S.A., the Jaipur Lit Festival in India and teaches poetics all over the world. Waldman is an original "Open Field Investigator" of Consciousness.  Among her many books are "Fast Speaking Woman" (City Lights), the P.E.N. Award-winning, Lovis Trilogy "Colors in the Mechanism of Concealment", and her 2018 "Trickster Feminism" (Penguin). An excerpt from a poem in SANCTUARY below.  Her calligraphic design, important to the text of the complete poem, couldn't be reproduced in this blog. I think you get a sense of her dynamic words. More at annewaldman.org.




Light Coda Occludes  

well, it’s very frightening. here last weekend raids in harlem and brooklyn. i am reading exact parallels in my studies of german theology circa 1932. very very scary. my church people had an intense meeting last week deciding to be in the radar of ICEwith sanctuary status. They have no illusions-- are already aware that the nation-wide changes to driver’s licenses due Oct 2020 = voter suppression. And still hoping for reparations. Paul Tillich has an excellent stance re: the Courage to Be, In Spite Of... love, Lisa

Forty guards with clubs went on a rampage and brutalized thirty-tree jailed suffragists. This was at Occoquan Workhouse. Orders of W.H. Whittaker. Lucy Burns was beaten and then they chained her hands to cell bars above her head. She was left there a night. Dora Lewis was hurled into a dark cell, her head smashed against the iron bed, she was out cold. Dora! Alice Cosu her roommate thought she was dead and suffered a heart attack. The affidavits reported women were grabbed choked slammed pinched beaten kicked and twisted

Occludes……………………………………………o ruse, o blues, abuse, subterfuge, o rues, intrudes, 
This “not-seeing” in the midst of seeing, this not seeing that is the condition of seeing, became the visual norm that has been a national norm, one conducted by the photographic frame in the scene of torture. (Judith Butler) 
what is our constellation? field of truths?  camera &; invasion positioning &; valence &; question &; target each such time, such as, such as it is, such as it was, and be that as it is, and head and aching head and my arcing headlong as it is in suchness rush to meet lights and other resilient head, soldier, shudders back, saved this time. head of armistice reckoning head — pubic metabolism 

rocks the world its sweet and vile pain (someone dies) cerulean sky scars hinges loops stress marks thickets cracks green of meadow below shifts blue unsettled green blue no longer hope cloud as if scattered across a gambling table permitted there? behind the masks? money? Gaza. A fence? living way below the poverty line. gazillions...
******************


The Snow Dead by Marc Zegans, published by Cervena Barva Press,  http://www.thelostbookshelf.com/poetrychapbook

Mark Zegans considers himself a student and admirer of Anne Waldman.  He is the author of five previous collections of poems, The Underwater Typewriter, Boys in the Woods, Pillow Talk, The Book of Clouds, and La Commedia Sotterranea: Swizzle Felt's First Folio form the Typewriter Underground; two spoken word albums Night Work, and Marker and Parker, and immersive theatrical productions Mum and Shaw, and The Typewriter Underground. The Snow Dead debuted theatrically in Erotic Eclectic's "Sin-aesthetic" at the Lost Church during San Francisco's 2019 Lit Crawl.  His poetry can be found at marczegans.com. 


The short paragraphs of The Snow Dead form an inquisitive meditation on life and death. The anonymous narrator is, like Waldman, an "open field investigator" deciphering enigmatic marks in  cold snow.  I found The Snow Dead akin to Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood,  where  different stories and voices are linked by life in a Welsh fishing town.  Zegans' marks in the snow indicate lives frozen, glacier-like, in time. The narrator details what he sees and conjectures, aware how little is left when "all is said and done."  An exerpt below.



We peer into history, as we stare
Below the root line. Looking up
Is more complex, a tracing of past
And a hurtling expansion
But in the ice all is dead, purified
Crystalline, and yet blue like life.

The offerings are left on the surface
Testamentary evidence of the killing.
The bodies in ice were never offered
Merely preserved, accidents in waiting.

On the surface, there is no recovery.
The snow dead decay more slowly
The flies do not swarm. We watch.
At distance, they appear as black marks

The work of a spare calligrapher
Who enlivens the field by its small rupture.
Gradient enters as we approach
First tone, then hue, then texture
Finally wetness. We see the slicked blood
The glistening hair by the wound.
The seeping of fluids draws raptors.

A fox lies on fresh snow.
Its neck broke, slight steam
Exiting its once clever mouth.

Before I knew how to make snow angels
There was the corpse on the bowed lawn
Arms thrown wide, palms up, fingers spread
Shoed toes pointed toward the sidewalk.

When the first snow came
The uncut grass poked up
Leaving small circles
Around stiffened stems
Taking season as aberration.

“The souls speak louder
In the graveyard
Under winter snow,”
She said, leaving
Footprints amongst
The headstones.

I can’t tell you anything.
I missed the opportunity.
My bones tell no tales.
The snow heaves over
My recent-filled grave.
In spring it will sink

We take the frozen rictus
As a grin, as if there was
A secret, zygomatic joke
Less than cosmic, merely
Private, as if, in the life
Cut short at the moment
Of death, wry truth is given.
It is a lie we tell ourselves.

She was a pin-up model
In World War II, known
To millions in glossies
Then forgotten, neglected
Living still into her 80s
Alone in a weathered house
Above Route 2, attic filled
With curling stills, dried ink
And bushels of love letters

The smell of dark wool tweed
Over dark wool suits
Black shoes not meant for snow
Leather gloves that will pinch
And stain when touched by salt.

I would walk though the woods
Scavenging fallen branches,
The leaf stripped deadwood,
Cut it, stack it and leave it to dry.
I could tell by feel how long it
Had rested in the snow, and why.

“Don’t be fooled,” he said
“Many of the snow dead
Have life in them yet.
Some are simply resting
Others hiding in winter
Most don’t know
Warmth a memory lost.”

Streetlights and silence in this cold
Place lit by candles, convenience store
Chocolate donuts and well-aged wine
Our only food, as we sit on the floor
Staring out at the snow-cleaned street.
It’s four AM. We are the only two people
Alive. You have no power, nor I
But there is electricity between us.

S.W.

Lisa


Saturday, April 4, 2020

2 Poems for Earth Day, Invocation to Nature, Year of the Fire Monkey



Nature spare the big-brained ape.
Homosapiens who once challenged nature
with desire for supremacy, mindless self-advantage 
to feed bottomless appetites. 

Primate selves, echoed large as would-be Masters.
Brought low by your tiniest of creatures?
C- virus mutates faster than human minds comprehend.

No free human life or living as once were, ever again.
Quickly! From a safe distance, we play catch-up behind mounting body counts.
Mother-father nature will you banish us from this foreign world we thought was ours?
Remake us to fit your Earth.

Banish this awful virus from human bodies for a reciprocal host.
Gift us a new place in your world order.

S.W.

THE FIRE MONKEY YEAR 2016

When nonspring hop skips past non-winter,  
Suddenly stopped short for 10 degrees,
we are unused to cold.  Denial in snowed minds.
Climate change? El Nino? Farmer’s Almanac
predicted Southern comfort.
Yet what cosmic lint enshrouds
Our clarity, Oxygen,
direction home?
THE RACE IS ON.

NASA’s in. There’s water on Mars.
Virgin Air’s got the Elite
Colonies. Science fact or
Alternate fiction? 
Is the Earth’s core solid, hollowed out,
inhabited by humanoids shy of light?
We live with low-lying slow moving masses of gray
clouds. Glimpses of true blue—
deepen past our midnight as
rockets streak through cosmic muck.
THE RACE IS ON

Money, sex, comfort, technology, titiilations of infinite
minds.  Finite is the unhidden truth, the stilling pulse
of a still living planet in
the Year of the Fire Monkey.
All hail our evolved primate selves, Innovative and refined.
Original, forward thinking, we pursue Excellence.
The sky’s the limit. 
THE RACE IS ON.

Anthracite, black gold
compressed in prehistoric swamps.
Dinosaurs sucked into bog.
Humans smother snug as bugs
in China’s public square, Surrounded by
impenetrable yellow smog, people watch a
movie screen showing a lost blue sky

In New York on a PATH screen are scenes of 
previous year’s lovely snow-dusted streets.
Watched by globally warmed passengers
waiting their infinite now.
But wait!  Maybe it is El Nino?
THE RACE IS ON.

Wherefore the Zen Circle, the Golden Mean 
to restore outsiders to the source? 
Is reclamation yet improbably possible?
Plant trees, when we need instant rain forests?
Clean oceans?  Rescue whales mysteriously beached?
Porpoises cannot escape mesh. Hope more money's 
spent on alternative than fossil fuels? Hope
our children’s children can discover 
an uncinematic blue sky,
yearn for beauty without end?
THE RACE IS ON

The big-brained homo sapien, like primate kin,
fights and kills for territory, food, mates.  Yet 
no other animal knowingly fouls its habitat. 
Full of inquiry, enterprise, appreciation of “perfection,”
Wardens of Paradise Lost. 
Will we ever gaze once more with astronaut eyes at 
the truly awesome breathing world?
Our Earth or in another galaxy
filled with the lucky ones not left behind?  
THE RACE IS ON?

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches
To men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill, but time and chance happeneth to them all.
--Ecclesiastes

This is the way the world ends?  Not with a whimper but a bang?—T.S. Elliott

“Commitment is an act, not a word.—J.P. Sartre

By S.W.

1/21/16