I have to be on the jagged ray.

We paid someone to pour milk over our bodies, and to scrub off gray layers of cellular history. Apparently we each thought of each other, viewed reclining from the back: “ah, Odalisque.” In that steamy Ingres space.

Sharp, almost antagagonistic conversations despite the warm affect and sensuous bonding. These conversations truncated by time and other limits, so there was no way to work through the dialectic. This leaves an unsettled and frustrated feeling in me, but then these days so much does.

Thinking of Spicer’s line, “no one listens to poetry” as a morph of that childlike plaint: “no one listens to me.” I have felt this since childhood and feel it still. I extrapolate that no one listens to me because what I have to say is not really worth listening to. Of course, even this thought may be just another form of self-involvement, as I know full well that others are busy listening to themselves, for one thing. Still, my extrapolation brings on a tantrum of rage and frustration that I internalize into any number of symptoms. I blog anyway. The blog becomes the place that no one can listen to me in public, the great exposed negligible void into which I can put the language that will otherwise make psychic whirlpools. Ululating. The poetry also exists as many things, but partly as a rebuke to those who did not listen to me, or those who did not love me.

Well, I think I am the devil’s child. This is perhaps just another manifestation of the neurosis, to think that. That “Artauldian” thing in me. But I am also seeing into life and death all the time, their terrible racket and bruit, so much that I can’t help but comment. Not to put on vatic airs, really: many of us do, and I think this is a fairly ordinary thing; this is what I think of as a life led in a state of “noisy desperation.” It would be good, I think, if I had turned out to be a little more intellectual, as the search for structures and patterns in the noise seems to happily, or at least constructively, distract many who might otherwise get bogged down in the desperation part.

I don’t feel bogged down, I feel churning. I’m in a tizzy of chemicals all the time: it fogs analysis. Therefore, this isn’t worth listening to. The churn seeks form (better form than this). I’m not ashamed of my angst, no, I mean, I am, but I’m not ashamed of being ashamed by it. It’s real, it’s just a human thing. At least, I cannot be accused of being calculating because I am too guileless.

A day without pain is a day without poetry! We’re supposed not to think this way anymore, and yet…

Well, I was interested in Stephanie’s piece how the “appropriated” danced with the “authentic.” That is a dynamic I have addressed many times in this space. The blur in between those notions. The allegorical grid of what’s appropriated is subsumed into autobiography, and changed by it, too, but I’m not sure how those without privileged knowledge about the writer would have heard it. I wonder. Not that those distinctions need to be clear; I suppose that’s the point.

I ran into Cheryl Donegan outside of Pratt yesterday and we rode the train together for about five minutes, talking of appropriation and its appearance recently in the mainstream of the NY Times. She wore a wonderful grey suit, little multicolored striped socks, and strappy pumps. I told her that I don’t think of appropriation as the gospel. I am not into gospels. Coincidentally, today I am taking my students to see the 45 years of performance video show at PS 1 and Cheryl’s video is in it.

To be honest I sometimes feel as if I have been appropriated (by the zeitgeist) into appropriation. What would I have written if I had never fallen into these circles, I wonder. Something more like the Book of Disquiet, perhaps. Because that is what this writing is like, a little, just sloppier. Always needing to make a space for sloppiness because the sloppiness is what generates unexpected curves and angles of form (back to odalisques, I guess). Then I fall into a pile of exhausted ragged weeping, but only in the text, because I am at work right now, and coping.

Anything is so complicated, like a spider donkey. I can’t stay happily in discursiveness because it doesn’t take me to the jagged ray. Not as escape, but as dimension. I have to be on the jagged ray. Its noisome caw and haunting interpersonal peeve. This other space of thinking where webs have dots of moisture/toxins that gleam in emotional blacklight and hazy strobe. The beautiful milk body and the beautiful oil body. The problem of the wiry cave, and the view from the prism (triangle). The problem of the alabaster slope. All this in ceaseless and organic palpitations…

4 thoughts on “I have to be on the jagged ray.

  1. here's one that came out after i read this:

    Bummed With The Hugo-knots in Victory as Matter

    fumbling hugoists move
    within the dust shadow
    brown shadows twist across
    islands of logodiasporation
    and crooked

    light is rickets
    said tennis shawl

    bone tennis racket
    in bright green sun

    a molar headed skin skirt
    serves like a dream
    tennis minuetting me
    me me grapheme
    not knowing

    sun puppet's syndrome
    no one hears earth at all

    the whole planet
    is a single black eremite
    a girl at a picnic
    of bored old farmers


    who just burn
    and burp
    and burn
    and shine

    that kind of huge beauty
    is just deaf

    little girls
    need to put on honey mustaches
    make little songs

    like black bullets
    at infinite speed

    the billion handed chrysalis of lace
    is simply a voice

    prati! peena! hibilam!

    cannot hide
    the ion naturalizers'
    beet pickler's romance..

    are all
    old recordings
    made by

    drippy sheiks.

  2. Say my name: John Bloomberg-Rissman. I'm guessing I'm not among those you particularly care whether you're heard by. I can only say that where I hear you or not, I do my best to listen. I read every one of your blog posts. And all the poems of your I can find. It has never occurred to me once that “what [you] have to say is not really worth listening to”.

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