Poetry

The Fall
I watch myself falling,
In the mirror,
A rare and disquieting pleasure
To be both body and observer at once.
Yet my insight,
thus ascertained from a flash of lucidity,
is useless.
I can deconstruct the movement in its separate elements,
the limbs that form an impression of unity,
their distinct shapes and orientations,
and then the successive stages of the fall:
the stumble the shock, the flash of blood streaming through my body, signaling danger, the realization of the fall, its acceptance, the letting go, no longer opposing the force of the air pressing against my chest, the thud and the hurt, the sensation of collapse, having lost some kind of certainty, some illusion of control.
And even if all of this is mapped out in advance for me,
And the past repeats itself in endless cycles of apprehension,
I cannot stop the fall,
I can only experience it.
(December 5, 2017)


To a Phantasm
Yesterday…
I thought I had found the right word
to describe
the heavy longing tinged with nostalgia
which overpowered me on the bus ride home.

Was it a form of desire, a yearning, a sadness?
Or perhaps a wish to return to the future…
to touch with all of the fingers of tomorrow?
*
So dear
the sense
recalled by the thought of you.
A disordered, limitless temporality,
all-encompassing,
where the past is present in the future,
where bliss and melancholy permeate each other,
giving shape to a feeling never before imagined,
where affection, though touched by the fear of an ending,
overwhelms the feeble human mind
through its infinite distances.
*
And all of this for a simple gesture:
The memory of our bodies, stretched softly,
One next to the other, tired with lovemaking,
Contrasting, of different shapes and hues,
Your arms wrapped around me so perfectly
That the thought of it made me cry.
*
wistfulness /’wis(t)falnas/ noun = the tipping point where an excess of happiness finds its painful side.
*
But this was yesterday…
Today…
I looked for an anatomy book at the library.
Poring over its illustrations, I was hoping
I would find an explanation
for that soft opening on the side of your neck
buried inside your clavicle bone,
over which I had passed my fingertips
countless times,
in disbelief.
A Latin name,
A scientific term,
A descriptive classification
of bones and muscles?

To think that such a discovery
would bring me comfort
was perhaps naive.
The same search for a signifier
to conscript
what is beyond thought.
*
Shifting images, touch,
the texture of skin on skin,
the warmth which comes with forgetting,
imperceptible twists and falls,
the movement of particles,
blurring surfaces,
eliding distances,
liquefying.

Never-ending motions
in suspension
above two edges of the world
as of yet unknown
to one another.
(December 5, 2015)

After John Cage
Gone are the days when
life was a pursuit
a pursuit of beauty
the element of surprise
beauty in the terrifying
the grotesque even
beauty in the unexpected
the possibility open and extended
into a future of the past
present in the flesh
beyond expectations
ideologies don’t
take over
the mind
if it is in a constant state of wonder
wandering is the mode
of inquiry unattached
no agenda required
no echoing of conventions
no necessity to self-police
every gesture
no ethics of despair
of self-improvement
of proving yourself
pure
not touched
by guilt
the constant
necessity to note
your lack of participation in
or at least increased awareness of
oppressive structures.
As if that were sufficient.
Where can we find the pull the push the soft fall
the drowning the excess
the limit of thought
of rules and norms?
How to press the boundaries
of life until they become
mere rubble?
Give me a lesson a will
a love a longing a desire
a word which deconstructs itself
from within.
I want walls to collapse onto themselves
a never-ending
vision of bird swarms
disorder
the motion of the waves
at the very tip where
they dissolve in myriads of particles.
(November 6, 2014)


On Mindfulness (in the midst of the World)
To practice self-restraint,
Quiet, sober, peaceful,
Like a solitary tree in the midst of an arid field.
To observe from afar, stay still, like a cloudless sky,
A void, transparent gap between your body
And the tumult.
*
The tumult tugging, pulling, breaking,
invading, in lights and warmth and
intensities never before formulated,
like the cascading waves of a forgotten sea,
far away, on another side of the Earth.
So sweet, the noise, the texture of sounds,
coming together in jumbled, formless shapes.
Sunlight shining through the leaves of a plantain tree
searing through the verdant and the frail,
suffusing everything with color,
giving individual life to static form.
*
And you?
To be still and silent,
Restrained, as if having infinite capacities to know.

Can your body remain unhinged,
your skin separate from the thrill,
the subtle motions,
the processions of heat and cold,
the vividness and the absence of light?

To be forever at the helm,
reaching with long, robotic hands
into the insides of your brain,
Shaping images, carefully constructing thoughts,
Words, calmer than you’ve ever uttered,
wiser and kinder to the world.
*
There is a certain contempt of sorts in this,
the self-assuredness of the human and
her love of order, harmony, control.
Yet what has happened to the sparkles
alighting in multifarious directions
at the clash of two spontaneous, disordered impressions.
Those immaterial, unformed grains of dust and light,
pushing against the border of your being,
refusing form, lingering in your deeper regions,
percolating into monsters of great beauty.
(July 16, 2014)

Warsaw
The bus fills up slowly like a glass,
holding its hostile faces inside.
It smells of old women who try to look young.
A man stares at me for a long time,
then looks away.
I am here by chance, without any real desire or strength.
The city is clouds and communist buildings and ravens.
Mid twilight crowds lights and trees together.
It is so much like home and yet so far removed
from everything I’ve been these past few months.

I realize all of a sudden that Milosz was here.
He wrote in his room and listened to the Nazis march outside,
already overwhelmed by what was yet to come,
but making it whole 
and perfect.
I want to follow his footprint, but cannot find it.
The fog swept everything clean;
the buildings, the streets, the people.
Time passes slowly in Warsaw.
Distances compress into amorphous matter.
I put one foot before the other mechanically,
in disbelief and still uncertain.
The city is more like a dream of return.
I can subsist on air here
and walk without thinking.
(December, 2011)



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