It's darth. Happy March. almost. February is still here. February has moved out of range of federal signal blockers, in order to be able to transmit a livestream assessment of the position it currently holds, after mass arrests and federally backed corporate takeovers sought to violate February's right to exist as a sovereign month, as part of a larger collective body which makes up what we used to refer to as our seasons. Our seasons are missing in action. White supremacist gangs with fossil-fuel corporate holdings have attained critical seats of power in the federal government, in a little white house behind a big fence, and they continue to order troops of soldiers to enforce removal of the seasons, including little months like February, on the grounds that these months are too colorful, and represent, through their suffering and violation due to pollution of their elements by corporate and federal fossil-fuel interests, too much of a reference to what the currently dismantled Environmental Protection Agency would have referred to as "Climate Change--" were that phrase "Climate Change" still to be considered legal to say. Gag orders on phrases such as "season," and "Climate Change" have been in effect since the beginning of February, the little month which has just lost its status as part of our calendar. Says one Republican press agent at the white house: "February has so traditionally been part of the cosmology referring to seasons, or has been known to...refer to a transitional phase from one of Mother Nature's states to another...this little month has its roots in a season, in pagan traditions, it represents heathen ideology. As such, February's status was as a place-marker in a now defunct calendar/climate system which is being phased out." In order to replace the term "seasons," the White House behind the big fence has issued a statement indicating that the use of the terms "sweater weather," "shorts weather," or "closed-toe shoe weather, with...maybe a scarf" can legally be used. These newly approved phrases can now be heard on Brightbart News, broadcasted as part of what is still being called "The Weather Report." Federally approved news source Brightbart News Channel will soon be phasing out The Weather Report...meanwhile, another February fugitive, the groundhog, long-time purveyor of the season of Spring, is being held in a detention center fifty miles outside of Cannonball, North Dakota, in a cage with some confiscated medical supplies, said to have belonged to a Lakota medic named Red Fawn. Red Fawn in being held in jail, due to the fact that she bears an animal name. Brightbart News Channel issued an alert on Friday, warning that any more humans found to have animal names will need to report immediately to the Bureau Of Non-Animal Name Affairs (formerly known as the Bureau Of Indian Affairs), which has begun working in collaboration with Exxon-Mobil, and Energy Transfer Partners--Sun Company, Inc./Sunoco, to enforce the new Non-Animal Name Order. Under this order, all those not bearing state-approved approved first, or last names must relinquish their personal data to a newly approved “Climate-Believer/Mother Nature Lover/Pagan/Muslim/Heathen Registry," to which all citizens who are not registered as white supremacists/fossil-fuel stock-holders must add their names. Any link between the fossil-fuel industry and the white supremacists which was previously denied has now been proudly admitted to, by the current administration. Non-white supremacist groundhogs, numbering in the millions, have not been excluded from the federal mandate to give over their personal data to the heathen registry, although this last is proving difficult to enforce, as few, if any federal employees speak groundhog. Animals in general, should they show any indication of behavior which alludes to Climate Change (delayed hibernation, refusal to copulate in predicted patters, or tardiness in leaving for annual migrations), are subject to arrest and detention as well, pending further notice. One tree was arrested in Pennsylvania last Thursday, for blooming early, on charges of colluding with a conspiracy to leak information concerning an early Spring. The tree's lawyers are working pro-bono, 24/7, to ensure their client's right to a fair trial.
That's the news. Check out February's live feed, coming to you live in your sanctuary cities. Let your love give you courage to speak its name in all seasons, for all seasons, to resist fear and hatred. Or, in the words of Kahlil Gibran, if you like:
But if in your fear you would seek only
love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing floor,
Into the seasonless world where you
shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
and weep, but not all of your tears.
Except for gathering clouds,
nothing stirs now in the valley.
A thousand years ago,
a dozen tribes flourished--
the Lune, the Ari, the Kizona,
others. But then one night,
consistent with prediction,
the men felt a malaise in
their village: blood commenced
to harden. A limping ibex
fell at winter’s end; the flaccid
wind folded in on itself.
Earth got used to the silence.
To harden a limping ibex,
the men felt a malaise in-
consistent with prediction.
The Lune, the Ari, the Kizona,
fell at winter’s end. The flaccid
earth got used to the silence,
their village blood. Commenced,
a dozen tribes flourished
others. But then one night,
a thousand years ago,
wind folded in on itself.
Nothing stirs now in the valley,
except for gathering clouds.
Jason Barry's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Cortland Review, Angle (UK), Noble / Gas Qtrly, The Citron Review, and other journals. He currently lives in Xi'an, China, where he works as a Lecturer in English at Jiaotong University.
Invocation by Jennifer S. Cheng (Released by New Michigan Press, 2010)
Review by Greg Bem (@gregbem)
"So that afterward in the darkness as I am riding home, I am looking out the window, thinking of octopi on the ocean floor and what they see at night." (from page 7)
Jennifer S. Cheng's Invocation is the early precursor and prelude to her award-winning, mind-dropping House A from 2016. This proclaimed essay, a kite of kaleidoscopes rustling in the wind, a hum of radiant and indefatigable mystery, is genre bending and genre defying, splicing autobiographical narrative with prose poem with image cluster. At 37 pages with 23 images, this work is at least as image-based as textual, yet the work is not wholly anything specific: because it is a work of full emptiness. But it does have a foundation, and that foundation is Cheng’s uncanny and fascinating voice.
As an exploration of what it means to be vocal and what it means to be voiceless, Invocation searches Cheng’s own history. It is a short book that navigates through the density of life as part of a family and the resulting smothering. Cheng’s world is one that is fluid (see: the fully-realized presence of water in House A) and yet it is a world of core disconnection. Here we have what it is to not speak, and to thus learn the action of speech.
Ideas of noise and sound form here, in this literary uplifting, this essay of invocation. The path of one’s voice, as a proper extension of identity, is sought here. The traditions of the reserved woman in a space of domesticity and domicile history are challenged here. The weight of silence within is accommodated by the weight of silence without, and that unity is reconciled here. Cheng wastes no time or energy through her text and visuals to unravel her history and her thorough struggles and beautiful courage in such an unraveling. And yet this essay does not seek to provide significant resolutions. Instead it is a preview, an opening of a throat on the verge of a song.
Metaphorically, Cheng’s Invocation is the step forward into her own voice, the poet finding the poetics, the individual learning their limits, authority, authenticity, integrity. Cheng’s invocation has long-since found its validation, and magically, Cheng’s voice is greater, fuller, more present in 2017 than ever before. Or so it seems, while the wind howls before the silence only moments away.
for the thing that came before.
for the hours of palms, spent leaf fronds, the scatter of coconut oil on the back
of a shower wall.
for a restful night in a trench, and for a crust of sawdust around the
thorax of a beetle
for beetles, the living crust around the earth's core.
for magma. for Christ's sake.
for the thing that drifts down at sunset with a big sign telling everyone - go inside, the Christians are coming,
there's work to be done in the bedroom.
for all ten dreams that flashed faster and faster, one an etch a sketch, the next an earthquake,
for so on, and so forth
for passing lanes, blow up dolls, and iron. For rust, ruin, dashed hopes,
damp cloths, wet naps, rough seas - for the porpoise
for the wrong title on the last poem
for fences, and guidelines, spritzer in a glass, for the bubbles, for her, for her smile, for her miscarriage
for fresh faces, for the soft cloth of a bib and for burping
for last Wednesday, last summer, a classy laugh - for frenzy and guardians and expenditures, and for small people who can't hope to reach the top floor
for the world's sky, for another sour lime and a rush hour drive and for auburn: the color, the beautiful woman, the school, the time of day
for all phrases of moon, and for the dirt that crumbles, sadly again, in a clenched fist
for gravity, sanity, for the placid and the place, for a series of hyphens that are close, but ultimately a waste of time
for the line, and the French, their coffee, their moustaches
for the unmowed grass under a father's corpse, for midafternoon, dandelions, for trowels, ticks, and the taste of toothpaste
for a legacy, for the lake, that summer in Alaska, for mosquitoes and olive oil, toast, sand, rough skin, and for the pleasure of breathing
for pace, power, portents, p's and crimps, skin, sashes, trash, bends in the road, the hem of a skirt, the lash of a whip, the breast, the dish, the banter, the crush - for senses, tense thoughts, a loose leash
for the worst heat in years
for the day before today, and the one before that
for a range, so vast, and a hat, just resting, on the saddle of a porch
for boulders, fields of them, for sign language and the right time to say the last thing anyone ever dreamed would be said so loud,
for that, yes
and for hands, a moment
for veins and vultures, and the slap of a splayed wave, for memory and blue balls, and hernias, for fasting and juice, for ridiculous, for high school sports
for pulp, black leather, thin lenses, and that split in the base of an oak tree that is wide and coated in sap
for Hershey, Pennsylvania, for the Beatles
for the beat of a harbor, heart attacks, and for drowning - for seals, for barking and fish, for flops and blood and more, always for more
for rest breaks, rest stops, sun blots, spotted leopards, jungles in general,
for landings, stairwells, for basements, for fresh snow
for eating fresh snow
for eating snow
for eating fresh
for belts, and buckles, for chin straps and zippers, Andrew and his attitude, and spinsters, troubadours, and for words without a w or an a or an r in them
for lawyers, for thwarted, for worn down, born agains, for the hardest mother fuckers in the South
for friends underground, impounded, over seas, aloof, underfoot, for dogs, both small and sinister - for crystals and cackling, for the portion of time spent rationing food on the last day
for avocados. for the greenest butter the earth can poop
for the rush of standards, for grids, gaps in teeth, for character and plot and for the cast of Lost
for sounds like oh, ee, stay, plush, spunk, lunge, dagger, scratch, thirst, whore, lackey, cornhusk, split a sun, send, curse, fast, spat, lap, gunk, gulp and sin
for single, for Jove, for bisexuals and liberty, libraries, candy and the last slug of whiskey
for finals week, for periods, again, for full moons and blowjobs and thunder and spin cycles and dirges and the Greeks
for the Black Keys, for rock, for lightsabers and penny mags and sick tricks and glasses and tight jeans and smocks and blazers and bull cuts
for hearts, the queen of spades, her lovers, all lovers,
for Maggie's and harpies, for a gloss of sweat on her lips
for the hole that's dug and the pie that's baked
for indulgence, for the mind
for the last minute, the thought that comes as you're standing in line.
for a bean, and a plant, and a place in the sky
for the trees and the sex, and for the rest, the rise in a chest,
for culled, sorting, the lash and a pulse of pepper in eggs. for breakfast, oh -
for Ellsworth and Ignatius, for language, second helpings, rats, for water in the mouth and the span of time Spain ruled its own country
for knots, porridge, for a hundred boys lost in a hedge. for a giant's thunder and a lee breeze and a cold shoulder and a high rise.
for serious people who have hands made of Crisco and raccoons on their feet
for the patience it takes and
for ten lines, two hundred syllables, for a mouthful of garbage and the last ride ever made by Jesse James, for his necklace and hat, and the men he loved
for the eraser, the taser, the chaser, the booze, the bitch, the bender, the morning after - for the French, again, there in the light, but not in the dark
for fastidious, for edits, for the couch, the slump - for the proud brow, the storm, the lip, for upper and dinner, and the day that goes by where everything is the way it shouldn't have been
for acceptance and rollicking, words like cowlick, paltry, unbendable, sporty, knick knack, space cadet,
for sound and rumpus and brouhaha
for a dream that means more than blue
for a face, sunny trails, for cacti and catfish, novice and acolyte, for amateur, for hurdles and patience, once more
for Microsoft, and VPN and MSN and sent texts and melted wax and a life of fingertips and the dirt on the ridges of a glass, and the jagged but unanswered cry of mourn,
for four, forlorn and a bridge, from my world to yours
I love you! It's darth. I have been sitting on the largest clock tower I can find, dropping daffodils on people. daffodils don't hurt when they hit you from far up. Newton's Law Of Daffodils would be an absurd premise, just don't go there. happy valentine's day! this would be an excellent time to get married. we could wear yellow. ducklings would mob us, that's how cute we'd be! the main thing is, I'm going about this proposal posthumously, so get ready to be widowed, right out the gate. or to be a widower (to use another gender-specific term), if we added a few letters to the word "widower," we'd get the word "wildflower." just saying. wait-- I hear music at our wedding! it is the sound of a hundred thousand conceptions of babies on american soil, conceived of immigrant families. a conservative electorate from the Goldman Sachs investment firm is singing "happy birthday" in the wings, to these tiny zygotes, granting them citizenship in the united states. long live conception, the moment of life, and long may the conceived hold citizenship in any country where their parents may, or may not have copulated. at our wedding, if we are surrounded by thousands of immigrants who are copulating upon arrival across our borders, let's have enough champagne for them. do you mind marrying someone who's dead? this is the best time to be married, here, in the worst political climate. our honeymoon will be one continuous protest against every evil we can confront. we'll support each other. we will not let refugee boats start sinking a hundred miles from Greece, we'll be there. we'll snorkel beneath everyone, carry them on our backs through the streets of Greece into new clothes, hot dinners, jobs, housing, we'll pay for doctor visits when needed. we'll hang out in alleys in every city's night, confront rape before it gets the chance to even start to talk smack. we'll stop rape, you and me. we'll launch an offensive against circumcision, against all non-consensual genital mutilation--all of this we'll do, in advance of our first anniversary. make t-shirts with me. they could say: "if the bible told you to whack your baby's penis off when he was born, you wouldn't go and do it...right?" we'll take all of it seriously. we'd have to save the world together a little each day. in order to let you know I'm in earnest, I'll write you a limerick:
a nice person called you there once was, who got married to me just because, when they said it was foolish as christmas is yule-ish, you told them "be Stills, Nash, and Cros!"
hear this: I promise I'll always wear my helmet. I'll never take you by force. I'll throw my cape down in a puddle, to protect you from getting soggy. if I rust in the rain, just keep me as a hood-ornament for your viking funeral pyre.
it's never too late for love's crazy black glove, thrust into the lightning of redemption.
All reviews by Greg Bem unless marked otherwise.
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