Ouroboros and Back Again

Thoughts on writing...and poetry. Ross McKie
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Life and Times of Michael KOrioles in the OrangesJung JournalThe Savage DetectivesFrom the Fifteenth DistrictConsolation: a Novel

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Follow along at Tiferet Journal as I write a poem-a-day for National Poetry Month.

Addendum to the “The Poet’s Apprentice”

I am a glorious
layabout with
forked tongue
to allow both
languages of
deceit. All hail
emptiness!

I am the holy
ghost licked
clean with
fiery temper;
blood-red wraith
with noble precision. All hail
duty!

I am bugbear
holding traps to
ensnare love and
memory. All hail
denial!

I am the scent
of every
drop lost. All hail
sedition!

I am starry fool,
immense dithyramb,
communal bullshitter,
ancient ridge of madness! All hail
sanity!

Know this: My “I am I” mocks equal pay for equal play and scolds the
goodly universe for its bones.

I am the sacred
cliché, anointed
for worship. All hail
Melancholia!

I am lost,
a frightened child,
and beg you,
dear reader, to
point me to my
home.

All hail
surrender!

*

Look, without our stories, without the true nature and reality of who we are as People of Color, nothing about fanboy or fangirl culture would make sense. What I mean by that is: if it wasn’t for race, X-Men doesn’t make sense. If it wasn’t for the history of breeding human beings in the New World through chattel slavery, Dune doesn’t make sense. If it wasn’t for the history of colonialism and imperialism, Star Wars doesn’t make sense. If it wasn’t for the extermination of so many Indigenous First Nations, most of what we call science fiction’s contact stories doesn’t make sense. Without us as the secret sauce, none of this works, and it is about time that we understood that we are the Force that holds the Star Wars universe together. We’re the Prime Directive that makes Star Trek possible, yeah. In the Green Lantern Corps, we are the oath. We are all of these things—erased, and yet without us—we are essential.

Junot Díaz, “The Junot Díaz Episode" (18 November 2013) on Fan Bros, a podcast “for geek culture via people of colors” (via kynodontas)

(via fulvia-bambula)

Follow along at Tiferet Journal as I write a poem-a-day for National Poetry Month.

On Listening to J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion

Bach has forsaken Christ
for the bereaved.

The innocence of composition
is further away than death.

No matter the plaintive motif,
false tongues hate A minor.

Bach divines his measure with
shadows.

Our patience is rewarded through
the voice of the continuo’s Tenor.

Baroque parties need dancing;
a minuet needs a Matt.

Picander had nightmares that
Bach would have him crucified.

No matter the catechism,
these notes lift the cross.

Were Bach’s hands like Christ’s?
Only the Cantor composed.

The turning of a note as the
turning of this child.

This was meant for Bach:
How would the scripture, though, be fulfilled? It must be this way.

The cries of heaven find
not one key in this song.

I am unbounded.
What will become of me?

Follow along at Tiferet Journal as I write a poem-a-day for National Poetry Month.

Crad’s Passing or Did Anyone Notice the Whoops?

In my dream
he has
unplotted rib
robberies
and returned

Adam, rictus,
to a dim
stage, fully
clothed,
all itchy.

In another, Crad
takes up
his pen
and begins
at the
beginning:

d-a-r-c—
but for
secrets,
not a missing

light

and then the lecture
moves
to a room
of black
feathers
in flight
and he
calls

for fires
and he swallows
his
wrists.

In the last,
he takes
the a-r-c
and marks
the path
of the
carotid cursive
to the breast-
bone
and sounds
a strong
echo there
with a snide
“Huzzah”
for what
bodies
accomplish.

Upon waking,
I see, out the win-
dow, that Crad
has left his ark
with Eve,
she has a ladder
for us
and she is
hosting a
few evenings
on board,

filled with the
body of his
work.

*

Crad Kilodney, Writer. 1948-April 14, 2014.

Follow along at Tiferet Journal as I write a poem-a-day for National Poetry Month.

Ṭáhirih

Enshrine yourself with varaqát
and speak only of this host.
This handful of water anoints
before the tired ink spills.

Then speak only of this host,
how any station is assured
before the tired ink spills.
Within the beloved speak of

how any station is assured:
leave thy tongue with the faithful,
within the beloved, speaking of
the invisible heaven’s reach.

Leave thy tongue with the faithful,
there’s so little to speak of here.
This invisible heaven’s reach
ignoring the whole of life.

There’s so little to speak of here:
this handful of water anoints,
yet ignores the whole of life.
Enshrine yourself with varaqát.

Follow along at Tiferet Journal as I write a poem-a-day for National Poetry Month.

This Side of Things

behind the fence
at bethel lowell,
his green house sits
with the same window left open

upstairs

and it lets the late Spring snow in
and it enters all the rooms
and it pardons the dust

on the picture frames.

his bed is elsewhere,
with a brother now
in Artmesia Township—

his brother’s sleep
reminds him
that it is all just less
than a grace

that there are fewer of them
that hymns to faith only
need a heartbeat.

still, on this side of things,
he allows a weight to bear him
into the future

he twists the loose thread around his finger from the arm of the chair,
sometimes tightly

and each day,
sometimes borrowing a coat,
he wanders
toward the house,
sure that he must
return to close
a window.

after Ghassan Zaqtan’s “A Picture Of The House in Beit Jala.”

Follow along at Tiferet Journal as I write a poem-a-day for National Poetry Month.

Return of the City Inspector

It was evening and the city inspector came from
behind the wall again to ask me if I wanted to
become a race car driver or a boxer. I said,
“There’s new buildings going up all over town
and you still find time to dog me again about career choices.”
He laid out a finely tailored, brocaded firesuit and
a pair of satin boxer shorts and said I had to decide.
I asked him to give me a moment, so I could be
alone with the suit and the shorts. On my nightstand
are prayer beads. Pacing back & forth in front of both
the firesuit and the boxer shorts on the bed,
I worried the beads. This was a tough decision.
Even though I felt happy, I wished this wasn’t
my body, that maybe if I had another one, was burnt away
or something, that I could reach a better life decision.
Sometimes if the body’s gone, choices become easier,
like in a poem or a short story. The inspector came back
into the room: “Well, what do you say, young fella?”
I hid my prayer beads. I thought, “Unchecked, all these
opportunities can pass by so quickly.” Both were
tempting, but then again, everything’s tempting
in this world. The city inspector rolled his eyes
and left his card. I put on the race car firesuit,
(the beadwork was exquisite), but—just in case—
I had the boxer shorts on underneath. I thought
of blood-hunger, the speed of words, the grafted
laws of nature, and the inspector’s lightning fast
left hook.

Follow along at Tiferet Journal as I write a poem-a-day for National Poetry Month.

We Grow Keys

We grow keys
here, let the rain
water them

till harvest time.
We wear ear
protection

because of the noise.
Remember the trembling
when

I watched you run
from the car
that night,

Your key so loud
in the carriage house
door,

That I thought we all
saw blood?
You said,

“I had a beautiful husband once.”
I told you I needed to leave
it all

that all keys were just stones.

Follow along at Tiferet Journal as I write a poem-a-day for National Poetry Month.

ecphonesis

some brilliant ek-
phrazein
was to incarnate
here,
some lines
about that strange
gesture of St. John’s
in Rodin’s sculpture.
But then
I remembered
Derek died five years
ago
today.

(perhaps
this poem’s
integrity can
be restored
if
Rodin
be ignored,
and,

well, and.)

soon, in front
of
pang drear
dark
sigh and
tear

calm will
salve
excuses
for
grief.

But how did Rodin get that hand like that?

O!
he held
the kindest
hands his
own
the kindest…

Follow along at Tiferet Journal as I write a poem-a-day for National Poetry Month.

Starlings

A purgatorial mapping,
this murmuration of starlings,
inked black with

unreliable cardinal points

and although it is noon the sky is erased,
the vaulted upwards some wobble board

with us ever-moving to the stilled swish

and flow of lift’s repertoire.

be nice to fly by the murmur in murmuration,
not catch the crook of that figuring

but there it is as a our making; nothing quiet there, though

except at the edge like to get my breath out there

looming before the next turn, maybe invent some tailed syntax
for lost starling sentences, scratch out some new cosmology

without having to become a bird.

Follow along at Tiferet Journal as I write a poem-a-day for National Poetry Month.

river’s last sleep—
poppies tear the sky
for the tall grass.

Follow along at Tiferet Journal as I write a poem-a-day for National Poetry Month.

a well-spoken speech on the need for North American investment in improved rocket engines.*

this squished bug on the index page seems to have been
looking up the entry for freedom or
the fourfold in William Blake
when maybe, of a sudden, wind-rockets blared,
oxygen-rich staged compression sucked, and
reverse blow-out aboard this pulpy shuttle
became too much, locking it— negative-G —
(really ‘F’) in place before any reimagining
of its mission. And doesn’t this just seem to be
the case these days for many of these indexed astro-nots
because there simply isn’t the proper investment here?
“We’re trapped in old technologies.”
The aftermath is damaging and sets us all back.
Famous poet-space explorer Phil Hall has addressed and catalogued
this and I am quoting him now: “…the smear of its innards—
starting amid the text [I believe that mission failed within the body of the craft]
and stretching out into the white margin…”
(Ah, everything to the margin, Mr. Hall?)
I have disagreed with him before, though, about portraying
or even highlighting these incidents as “smears.” This is not
a smear campaign. It points to something.
Perhaps this bug has sent us our answer through its
piacular passage. Maybe the secret to this challenge
lies in its dotted extinction near the fourfold:
the re-entry of some indefinite, yet imaginative, figure
that has been left behind and that this creative act of perception
scrawls us toward chaos, toward the shadow of a countdown.
Isn’t that what space is all about? Isn’t that the investment?
And yet so many close the book on this.


*the title is adapted from Colonel Chris Hadfield’s tumblr entry of April 7, 2014.

Poet “Space-Explorer” Phil Hall’s ideas are courageously and brilliantly explored in his “Notes from Gethsemani: an Inaugural Page Lecture” at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada November 14, 2012 with some quoted above from the Nomados Literary Publishers edition.

Follow along at Tiferet Journal as I write a poem-a-day for National Poetry Month.

Thread

as
essentialists
we turn
tailors into
metaphors.
ones who fight as
shadows
against their sons
trying to murder
them.
the pricks use
models and portraiture
to suit their
designs.
(that’s the point, you see.)

mean-while,
bob the tailor
has
quit us,
slipped some
sartorial signet
ring onto his
finger, and
blinded himself
and for
what? not faith,
is for what.
but there’s more
to this man
than
alterations, right?

he need sleep standing now—
Hypnos and Thanatos
pinned to his
seemed
edge—
and at one angle close
to the
next,
wait for his own body
to clip and cry
before any new words
can put him-
self
back
together.

Follow along at Tiferet Journal as I write a poem-a-day for National Poetry Month.

Eure River

1.
Only to the knee-deep in water will
the hunger for cathedrals attain this
threshold.

2.
Those who plead for blood’s undertow
testify that utterance no longer shocks
the black sky.

3.
For tears that swallow and peal and beg
and yoke and flame and loam and guild
there’s sleep.

4.
If I whip sense into a fury,
your eyes— for an instant—
will dance.

5.
Do you remember his orange tree?
Its leaves carrying the faint smell
of your mouth?

6.
But what of this riposte and its plot to
hollow out the middle and name us as
everywhere?

7.
To yield to the thought that she is Eros
as vault is to sky as touch is to wound,
realmed.

8.
It was a hot day and there were a few clouds.
We swam in that river after Chartres’
razing.

9.
From the nape of a neck a prayer
can sound as a sacred kiss
drowning.

Stop thinking about artworks as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences.

Brian Eno, “On Art,” c. 2010 (via rooth)

(Source: nickkahler, via becomingbricolage)