Monday, January 21, 2008

Nightlight pleasures of the State

Been a strange day for me. Have been concerned over war-profiteering of language. Of good intent on the surface that really operates as self-confirmation or emotional profit. Have also been thinking about how I can’t write my “old life”, the decade or so I can barely remember. I don’t want to, but maybe I should. When I do recall, I seem to recall amiss, according to those who claim to have seen and known it better. Last year a friend died with whom I’d spent a lot of time during these “phases”. See, I am only left with euphemisms. I have wanted to write an elegy — a memory of her — but haven’t been able to. I think Guy Debord in Society of the Spectacle takes the typically easy path when he writes: “With writing there appears a consciousness which is no longer carried and transmitted directly among the living: an impersonal memory, the memory of the administration of society” (Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, Black & Red, Detroit, 1983, 131). There are not a few poets who would agree with this, but it is a typically “Western” text-entrapped conclusion come out of a struggle with State, that ultimately has given in before it has begun a resistance. The pat quoting of Novalis after this statement, “Writings are the thoughts of the State; archives are its memory”, plays the stock-epithet game. As a “saying”, it works, but as fact, it is unsupportable. The poem below — an elegy for K who died in very bizarre circumstances, made generic by the culturally-deleting “somewhere in South America” — is a processing of this. The record of K’s death is debatable in ways that aren’t mine to discuss, but nonetheless have become part of the conversation about her living life as well as her living death (many of those close to her celebrate her life rather than lament its loss). It’s also a poem about “place”. She liked to visit “the bush”, though I never saw her here. The poem is about contradictions, I guess. I once played war-games as a teenager. I also designed a war-game (or two). I then became an anarchist. Some years later (some would say many years later), a dedicated pacifist. I fought addictions and am proud to have overcome them, over a decade ago. And today I wrote this poem:

Graphology 788: Nightlight pleasures of the State

Dead-ringer, eidetic rough that sloughs
my slump, an ethics trap, sure, buster,
as K was cut up “somewhere
in South America”, culture dares

its weight, night when iron shakes,
rumples hoods to notch up fearfulness:
numb as paradox I was, and she said
hit the adrenalin, oxymoron for this

body type, beautiful in narcotics,
slam-dunked before the gates, left open,
struggling to close before sheep
stampeded, forced their way

announcing — alone — poor dittums.
I trowel those traumas, sweat that
serves my nakedness with hesitation,
embarrassment, as might have taken

root among the parrots, speaking their chat,
as I can, honestly, short-skinned,
downing long-necks in early morning,
traipsing out of sins and deals,

dead-loss conniving to empty
all accounts, cherishing sea-urge
of gulls who’d rather fossick
slightly in, in from the coast,

knowing the coast is contraire, less viable;
what if I sign up on the Sea Shepherd,
nibble before an action, come out
rough to trot, latch distant cheek by jowl,

stare long and hard, maladroit,
stretch those gibbets of gravity,
educe a tipple, violate tilt
of methylated spirits, cleaning toilets —

needle-stick around the bend?
That’s me — if known, truly known,
I’d be out on my ear, searching
for the residue of K. She

liked me and I her. I thought to be liked...
is decent. Thanks. Country night
fills country air, mercury lamps
the screen. I look out, nightlight,

barely structuring war-profiteers,
selling peace at margins, visoring lipid
sunsets in graphic programmes: she
would have temporarily

liked it out here — sequestered —
wiping aside the drool of electricity,
quaint alpacas wondering why
“sexy” is barely mountainous,

a gene-scene, remote
carpet-bagging sensibility,
the way the powders
came in from “overseas”,

cut to the chase, the drowsy
pin-cushion, vein-chase, cook-ups
when there was plenty. I barely
came out alive. Had to go, sorry.

A dog is barking. A small dog
barking high-pitched into the night.
Yapping — it is irritating,
more so because so distant.

Alone here. A country separation
like a planned pregnancy. The dog’s
pain would have irritated you
more than its barking. Music

stops and you start to worry.
Anything to keep it going. Rambunctious
crowds. Loopholes in the rapid.
Glasses that shut down 3D.

That’s eye to eye. Spectacle.
Warding off a deal with Novalis:
these archives, that memory.
I am cleaning up my act...

Half-weight annihilation.

John Kinsella

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