Tag Archive | poetry

quiet please quiet

Quiet, please, quiet.

Let me sleep.

Let me pull this darkness (this darkness that is still natural in many places of this world) over my face like a black hood wrung in cool water.

Let me be blind inside it.

Let me sleep as deeply as sleepers in the dark regions.

Let me sleep, fists curled like a skinned animal who dreams of the moldy earth, of thick plush fur.

A dream that closes on waking like a heavy door heaved against a beast who wants to tear my bones away from themselves with its jeweled claws.

(Odalisque dreaming recorded here)

are you awake?

i am writing you it is the longest night of the year.  there are astronomical charts and time tables which tell me this is so.
no matter when you read this let it be known: I wrote this on the longest night of my second obelisk year.

I am vigilant.  the birds are asleep.  crow/parrot is nesting on the teapot. black swan’s head is tucked into a wing with a hammer.  hawk’s claw clasps a chisel.  starlings sleep in my tree, which is perfect because they will rustle and chirp at exactly the necessary moment.

I have an obelisk-improvement plan which begins with our marking tomorrow’s first ray of light.  I’ll show you what we do, but you’ll have to wait until next year.

now, now now, cold and colder (metaphysically).  the obelisk receives information on its obtuse cosmic angle as it (as we) tilt far back on our polar heel, away from the atomic crematorium called sun.  I am wearing my coat and holding phoenix, who burns my candle at both ends.

i don’t like these long nights.

tomorrow night will be one minute shorter than this night!  every minute counts when you’re all alone in an obelisk and your friends are birds who go to sleep with the sun.

correction: owl doesn’t sleep with the sun, but where is owl?  out torturing the rodents who plant seeds in my bed when I’m not looking.  all kinds of seeds stashed in my bed!  will they sprout to my warmth when i sleep sound?

i sleep in sound.  mice eat the seeds.  owl eats the mice.  owl eats the trees, twice-removed.  the marsh flowers and the burnet grasses.

i like my solitude, but these dark days weigh heavy on me.

are you awake, too?  hush holy in the old days, before people like you and I understood the earth’s axial tilt, how it–not the sun–moves.  There was a time when night-wakers-we would labor with rites and song to call back the cold sun.  come back, chariot of cosmic fire!  run your course directly o’er, you barely crest the distant edge of our apparently flat fields.

people like you and I, night-wakers-we, would worry about star-lit days and moon-less night.  the trees are already dead and if the sun said “no, i won’t come back” and didn’t, they would have stayed that way, bare of leaf, electrical snappage in a voltless day-called-night.  we would have been eaten by the night-hunters, like owl.

crow-who-is-parrot cracks one eye as if crow were wholly crow, and croaks “some day some day”.  it is true.  one day the sun will burn out.  go back to sleep, parrot-who-is-crow.

I am glad to KNOW that this is the longest night this solar year.    Tomorrow night will be a little bit gentler than this one here.

my winter solstice, 2013 scrapbook page.   happy hol [ly] days.

figure_solstice_orion_ahome

fig 3

home [page]

figure (anamorphosis) was my 100th scrapbook page!  One hundred is a special number because I have ten fingers and a hundred is ten to the second power.  I will have to publish 1,000 pages before I reach another power of ten.

post100_1000One thousand scrapbook pages!  Taped in a line on the walls…or bound into a book?  A record of the evolution of someone called “I”?…or ever-more intimate layers, papery tissues, peeled off with each page turn?  If the pages only reveal what was always there, what will be unveiled when the last obfuscation is lifted, the last page turned?

A funny endpaper, the edging of a book.  The knobby surface of my old desk, slid up beneath the window of the obelisk.   For you…a still, illuminated screen?  What lingers in the mind as our eyes lift to the view…who will sit, unveiled, in our thoughts, perplexing and welcome, when the scrapbook is at last closed?

centenary invitation

www.conversewithbirds.org

Now Featuring

post100_aslideshow

of my favorite pictures

AND

post100_aboutmeandmyscrapbook

where you

post100_youyesyou

can read an odalisque primer, hear my dreams, watch my movie, and browse some of my favorite pages from each obelisk year.

All this, and we are not even finished with year 2.

handwriting_thankyouforlooking

–The Odalisque

why does the phoenix (billet 3)

Why does the phoenix want to garb me in fire?  Another pile of ash on my pillow.  Phoenix fiery billet-doux.   “Things unintelligible, yet understood.”

(click to read the previous billet-doux)

billet 3


do you know what but not how?
you will lose the path
in the fog of your emotions.
do not regret the past.
understand it.

you are the mud in which a stone is sunk.
clear your mind.
pick up the stone.
wetness skeins it like marble, smooth sculpted on
what shore?
where did you find this artifact?

what you call your life
is how you avoid living.
living–the outrageous adoration, absurd affirmation
of is’ness amidst all-vanish-es.

throw the stone of your heart
into the fire.
it might be an egg or a seed
that must be scorched
before it will hatch.

flying

my dream

Owl recorded my dream.  Listen:  cosmic dream radio.

I woke up yesterday.  This is what I remember:

bird's shadow blackensleave 2 candles burning/ do i go out again

I can’t help but think that some of this was due to one of phoenix’ flaming billet doux.

But there was no ash on my pillow when I woke up?

choosing your parrot’s vocabulary

So, now I have a parrot.  Its name is Crow.  Crow used to be a very interesting conversationalist, but all Crow Parrot can (will?) say is “WHERE ARE YOU GOING.  HELLO.”

Odalisque sits at her desk.  “WHERE ARE YOU GOING.”

Odalisque steeps her tea.  “WHERE ARE YOU GOING.  HELLO.”

Odalisque leaps to the window when Hawk or Black Swan or anybird, anybird at all, blessedly arrives in the window to save her from Crow.  “WHERE ARE YOU GOING,” says Crow.

“Hello,” says my bird guest friend.  “HELLO,”  squawks Crow.  Shut up Crow!  I don’t know where I’m going.  I’m in an obelisk for solstice’s sake, and it was a lot of work to get up here.   (as portrayed in my movie.)  Leave me alone!

Despite the fact that I did not choose Crow’s vocabulary, Owl, in an attempt to be helpful, brought me this:  Things to keep in mind when choosing your parrot’s vocabulary.

1. Avoid Profanity.

Profanity is the use of profane language, and profane language is that which is not concerned with religion, unholy because not consecrated, or that which debases what is holy.   I was once considered profane, especially as compared to, say, a Madonna.  So perhaps I should not try to teach Crow my name, The Odalisque.

2. Stay away from “catch phrases”

It’s always cute when talking birds chime in with something to say, but you want to make sure that what you teach them won’t get old or annoying after a while.

I take a book from my bed and flip the pages.  How about:

I would like to step out of my heart, and go
walking beneath an enormous sky.

or

From you to you I go commanded.  In between
the garland is hanging in chance; but if you
take it up and up and up look!  All becomes festival!

or

For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror,
which we still are just able to endure.

or

If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.

or

Is love: a murderer without a knife?

or

She moves the way clocks move.

I can’t imagine even lovely, ravenous phrases  could preserve their dewy hunger if repeated as often as Crow says “Where are you going.”    If I teach poetry, will Crow use it sparingly, with the wisdom & ken to perfectly brim a fine distillation into each moment’s goblet?

3. Think long-term!

There are many things that will remain constant in your bird’s life, and these are often the best sources for inspiration when trying to decide on the types of words and phrases that you’d like to add to your bird’s vocabulary.  For example, your or your birds name…

CROW!  squawks my parrot.  ODALISQUE ODALISQUE ODALISQUE!  No Crow, you can’t say that it is profane.  OBELISK OBELISK OBELISK!  Nor do I want to encourage any creature in my care to believe that anything in its life is constant.  OCEAN OCEAN OCEAN.  UNIVERSE UNIVERSE UNIVERSE.  No Crow, all is in constant creative & destructive flux.  MATTER MATTER ENERGY!  MATTER MATTER ENERGY!  I do not know, crow.  I do not know.  It is best to assume all, all will pass but nothingness, from which materiality and warmth may inevitably emerge.

4. Choose songs/music wisely

It’s best to select songs that are “classics.” Popular choices for many bird owners are nursery rhymes like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, and various oldies from the 50’s and 60’s.

This guidance is very intriguing.  It reminds me of Beckett who imagined mothers squatting to birth babies into their graves.  Nursery rhymes & oldies…everything in between is tedium.

Twinkle twinkle little star how I wonder what you are, up above the sky so high.  Like a diamond in the sky…

Crow before he was parrot would definitely have thought of the stars as diamonds, and coveted one for his stash.  But Owl would bring us a book on astronomy, show Crow that the stars are luminous bodies of charged particles held together by gravity and fueled by thermo-nuclear fusion, and that would have been that for everybody but Phoenix who would know, as if in ecstatic vision, the nature of heaven.

True singing is a different breath, about
nothing. A gust inside the god.  A wind.

5. Avoid alarming phrases.

Even if it seems like a humorous thing to do, there is a genuine risk that your bird could incite a fair level of panic given the right situation.

There are so many things that should incite a fair level of panic, but fail to.  Related to number 3 above, perhaps I should teach Crow to regularly incite panic with words that remind me of my impermanence.

WHERE ARE YOU GOING WHERE ARE YOU GOING.  HELLO.

Oh, hermetic Crow.  Even as parrot, you outpace me.

Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were behind you, like the winter that has just gone by. For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter that only by wintering through it will your heart survive…

…To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb creatures in the world’s full reserve, the unsayable sums, joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count.

transparent bar

transparent bar

–The Odalisque

ghost hand

(all bold text  from Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Rilke)

conversation with the crow as parrot

calling card crow/parrot

(Why is crow a parrot?)

Where are you going?  Hello.

As far as I can tell I am not moving.  Well, I am, but only because I rest on this planet, which is repeating its one path around the sun.  Each night, when the sun vanishes, I feel sad.  It’s lonely in the obelisk without the sun’s co-habitation, once all you birds tuck your heads beneath your wings and roost, at least until I settle at my desk and set to work on my scrapbook.  Then I forget to be lonely or sad.   Day breaks the enclosing dome of night and I look up with a feeling of accomplishment.

Where are you going?  Hello.

I should get more sleep.   Maybe take a walk on the shore.  Pack up my scissors, throw some buns in my teapot, and head out for some free air.   I feel there is one right time for that walk and that it should lead me to one particular place.  It’s terrible, Crow, for that thought–of one time, one place–fills me with dread.  I do not know what time, what place, and I hovel up here bitter beneath this cosmic tyranny.   I want anytime, anyplace.  I would like the cosmos to operate with more ease, to unfold like the seed-head of a sea-thistle.  I resent being a wheel in this cosmic machine.

Are you?  Hello.

Odalisques are art.   I wanted to be real so I escaped the art in which I was trapped, but still I must make of my world art.  It gets very confusing.   There is a quote by a famous artist, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”  I want to play with the world  like a child.

You?  Hello.

Yes.  My scrapbook is an expedition.  A paper ship on the unconscious deep.

Going?  Hello.

Towards no horizon.  I progress through fathoms of depth and height.

Where?  Hello.

Crow, here is the page I made last night.  What do you think it means?

I show Crow my latest scrapbook page.  I cannot show it to you because it has not yet resolved itself into a single image.  It is holographic, changing with angles of light.  In a forest looking down or at a city looking up or upon a dune looking out?  A figure, his back is to me.  No…he looks right at me, I sit on the ground, no now, behold, his arm reaches out… Crow says: 

Hello.

ruined valentine

I’m not writing anymore about love, but I did make a Valentine.   My valentine has ruins in it.   Owl tells me there’s a fetishism for ruins called “ruin porn”.   Amidst the outer-world’s compulsion towards youth, development and progress, there is a counter-fascination with what has fallen apart somewhere so unprofitable it is allowed to remain-an aesthetics of inevitable capitulation, a poetics of collapse.   The stones that have crumbled, the rotting curtains, the empty rooms, the sunken roofs, all, all are ephemeral garlands upon absence.  Absence: the presence of what is no longer present remains, a meta-monument to impermanence.

my valentine has a hole in it

This valentine reminds me of an early conversation with the black swan:

…Is there a love otherwise made?  Of stone?
Its architecture, yes, toppled in weeds,
though an entablature on slipped columns
remains to frame the inorderable sky.

I could think:  Marking a grave.  Or
Its austere grace!  What time cracks falls away
to reveal a more essential beauty.

The ruins memorialize themselves.
Two might still walk among them hand in hand.

“Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”   Let love, in its ruin, grace forgotten spaces, defy the spirit of our age which points, it would appear, only to annihilation.  Its shrill, destructive euphoria spares no room for soul-deepening ruins, lovely and bittersweet.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  May your love exemplify grace.

–The Odalisque

Movie Night! Her Greatest Love (scene 1)

In MOVIE NIGHT I wrote about my proclivity for the lost films of Theda Bara.   I just watched HER GREATEST LOVE, a film made in 1917 which is now considered lost.  In this film, Theda played Hazel.

This is my favorite Bara movie so far.  I may transcribe more of the scenes.   In my opinion, years of non-existence have increased this film’s power–it seemed so relevant to me today!    Changes in viewing technologies between 1917 and my obelisk also deeply affected my experience of the film…in this case, my experience of the plot.   The inter-stellar resonance introduced by the image transmission process became the epic content of the film.

my viewing technology

Here’s scene one!

HER GREATEST LOVE

SCENE:  Exterior of  library on small-town Main Street.

(HAZEL, eyes upon earth, arms around books, approaches.)

(Her worsted wool coat, blue, true blue, because she is.)

(CLOSE-UP: HAZEL looks up, revelatory lustre of dream-dark eyes which see which see–)

(–gang of her peers in which a white-eyed BOY laughs, his arm around a pony-tail GIRL.  His coat?  Blue, like forsaken, because HAZEL is.)

(White-eyes spy HAZEL, quickly evade.)

(Jocular jostling.  Elbows jab ribs.  Pony-tails spray fiber-optic fountains of static.)

(CLOSE-UP:  HAZEL’s face, unable to appear OK.)

(Meanwhile, the library portico where vestal virgins bear lamps to light the way.)

(Meanwhile, arithmetic problems of distance, angle, pace, demand immediate solution.)

(HAZEL, eyes upon earth, continues toward library.)

(Obstacles.  Boy legs stuck in soft shoes, pocket-books full of mirrors, the glare of lip-glossed smiles.  Pony-tails hum with electrical potential, wisps stray from rubber bands, filaments for electrocution.)

(HAZEL, at last upon library steps, stumbles.  Her books spill.)

(Behind her, chirping girls barred and flickering like a television frequency intermittently received.)

(Above HAZEL, the library pediment, engraved:)

HAPPY IS THE MAN THAT FINDETH WISDOM
AND THE MAN THAT GETTETH UNDERSTANDING

(.)

(HAZEL gathers books, feels absence of white-eyed boy’s arm upon her.)

(Where arm is absent, bruises swell to welts which pop, pierced by sticky, keratinous extrusions that tunnel out of her back.  Bow-shaped shafts.  Unfurling to horrific span & splendor.)

(CLOSE-UP:  HAZEL’s eyes shudder shut as wings test themselves: open, closed.)

(Passionate shame.  Ludicrous endowment.  Appallingly displayed.)

(Meanwhile, the eternal heaps of uncataloged books, frenetically searched by the light of stars.)

(Meanwhile, consonants excised from penciled passages, admitting nebulous vapors amongst wide a’s, arched e’s, long o’s.)

(Meanwhile, forgotten charts of starry populations fall from flipped pages: monsters, beasts with wings from where, from whence they soon shall come…)

(HAZEL beneath pediment, monstrous winged beast, bereft of white-eyed boy.)

(BOY disconnects himself from pony-tail GIRL, hands trembling as if he would weep.)

(Compacts rapidly issue from pocket-books.  Crystal blue eyes retro-flash signals through the recesses of mirrors into the far regions of space.)

(Pony-tail GIRL tilts her head coyly, smiles all mother-sweet, enforcing blithe, oblivious complacency.)

(A car, chrome-cased like a spaceship, approaches at a super-sonic speed.  All pony-tails flare in a unified direction, aligning the inescapable magnetic field.)

(Ionic dusts assemble, obfuscating judgment and vision.)

(CLOSE-UP:  One half of BOY’s face twitches, involuntarily.)

(CLOSE-UP:  HAZEL opens her eyes.)

INTERTITLE
EVIL FORCES CONSPIRE.
THE EMPIRE IS DIVIDED.

ONLY LOVE CAN TOPPLE THE IMPENETRABLE WALL.

EARTH’S ONE REMAINING HOPE.

(Musical interlude.)

(Silence machines begin.)

END OF SCENE

HAZEL in HER GREATEST LOVE

HAZEL in HER GREATEST LOVE

crushed cans v/s broken shells

Cans and shells are both abandoned when no longer useful.

One, when empty (by man). One, when full (by glob-footed organisms).

Glob-footed organisms cannot live inside aluminum cans.

Shells do not litter the streets of major cities.

Broken shells can mulch flower beds.

Crushed cans cannot be flower vases.

Neither makes a tasteful ashtray.

Neither illustrates prayers or sells in tourist shops.

Neither is likely to be gilded, to impress ladies at a luncheon party, or to evoke true love.

Either might evoke memories of an ex.

Neither can nor shell should be clutched too tightly to the bosom.

Neither is an apt metaphor for the muse.  Neither inspires odes.  O cracked bit of shell O crushed aluminum can

And so forth.

The shell, broken, reveals a lustrous encapsulation of roseate dawn.  It is pleasing to the thumb.

The can, crushed, is  illegible.  Its crinkled lip flashes in the sun like a razor.

More sea trash (read bones, candy wrappers, a winnowing basket here).

–The Odalisque

bones, candy wrappers, a winnowing basket

It came it came!  A letter via staghorn post from Henriette!  (read about Henriette here)

Dear Odalisque,

Everyone I know, used to know, is trashed and wavering in filthy board-rooms, louche galleries, swanky trashheaps.   I hear their twinkling laughter, drunken howls and outrageous tweets even here, in my climate-controlled basement.  I know they mean no harm.  They are indifferent to me.

Thank you for writing.  It is true I still have my coat, moth-eaten but sustainable, in this old trunk Matisse sketched for me.  It is true I have few visitors–but few is more than I’m used to, having desired only solitude, like you.  I with the company of bones.

Oh the bones, Odalisque.  Lacunae of exquisite topology, elaborate curvatures, like dessicated ovaries flowering against a shockingly blue sky.  Fractal erections.  Antlers.  Femurs.  Knucklebones.

We are not growing young.  It is only with labor, much much labor, that our extinguishment is not a snuffing out, but an ecstatic obliteration in light.

A guard is coming.  He will peer closely at me to assure himself I haven’t disintegrated into an obvious fake.

Write soon.

Your friend,

Henriette

On my very first scrapbook page I wrote these words:  “I will write no more of love.  Is anyone ever satisfied?”  Henriette and I both experienced a disillusionment with “love”, whatever “love” is when you’re an odalisque who everyone wants to look at.   At some point, bathed in gazes, thoughtful odalisques react to submersion in viscous adoration with the apparently outrageous question “What am I?”

Lovers come, lovers go, the retreat of street-shoes across elaborate carpets upon which we, barefoot, barely concealed by shimmering drapery, lie.  What does an odalisque feel?  Who is there, not feeling, not known?  I felt trapped inside my own desirability.   Inches beneath my skin I felt a barricade between all-but-my-surface and everything else: an unknown quantity <– my skin–> the world.  The “real” world.  I could see it, as if through chinks of  mounded rubble.   But what or who was in there looking out, so fiercely protected from invasion or intimacy?  I felt a faint wind.  I could see nothing, and the sound was a soft emptiness, a downiness into which too much had collapsed and suffocated.

The options available to Henriette & I ?  Jaded hedonism, vengeful vampishness, feverish tragedy, or domestication, a settling down, settling in.  We considered our options and cried “fuck this!”  We meant these words metaphorically, not literally, and that, that delineated something raw and fibrous  that we resolved to call “I”.  We grabbed our coats and ran.

We were never afraid of living our lives alone.

I WAS afraid of becoming brittle and sopped, trash spit out of the ocean that crumbles at a touch–corroded aluminum, brittle cellophane, the shattered foil wrapper of something toxic and sweet.  Better to be a seashell, empty and clean, or a beat-up piece of glass.  Better to be a crab scuttling away from the encroaching foam, or even the dry rasp of the dune grass, if not the dunes,  if not the collapsed lungs of the sea creatures upon the sand, if not the moon’s liquidity on the ocean’s trembling musculature, or the moon itself.  No, not the moon.  The winnowing basket woven across the sky by its mensual arcs.

That yes that.

Dear Henriette,

Did you ever figure out how to LOVE someone?

The birds all say hi.

Your friend,

The Odalisque

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