Lent Word #38: Process

  • Poem: I Sing the Body Electric 6. by Walt Whitman
    The male is not less the soul nor more, he too is in his place,
    He too is all qualities, he is action and power,
    The flush of the known universe is in him,
    Scorn becomes him well, and appetite and defiance become him well,
    The wildest largest passions, bliss that is utmost, sorrow that is utmost become him well, pride is for him,
    The full-spread pride of man is calming and excellent to the soul,
    Knowledge becomes him, he likes it always, he brings every thing to the test of himself,
    Whatever the survey, whatever the sea and the sail he strikes soundings at last only here,
    (Where else does he strike soundings except here?)
    The man’s body is sacred and the woman’s body is sacred,
    No matter who it is, it is sacred—is it the meanest one in the laborers’ gang?
    Is it one of the dull-faced immigrants just landed on the wharf?
    Each belongs here or anywhere just as much as the well-off, just as much as you,
    Each has his or her place in the procession.
    (All is a procession,
    The universe is a procession with measured and perfect motion.)
    Do you know so much yourself that you call the meanest ignorant?
    Do you suppose you have a right to a good sight, and he or she has no right to a sight?
    Do you think matter has cohered together from its diffuse float, and the soil is on the surface, and water runs and vegetation sprouts,
    For you only, and not for him and her?

Lenten Word #34: Enter

  • Music Video: As We Enter by Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley
  • Poem: Enter the Void By Juan Felipe Herrera
    I enter the void,
    it has the shape of a viola:
    Israel, Jenin, West Bank, Nablus—a rubble boy
    shifts his scapula as if it was his continent, underground
    Gazaground, I want to say—his only bone,
    the rubble boy is a girl, I think,
    her hair tossed, knotted and torn under
    the green shank of fibers, tubes and shells.
    She digs for her rubble father, I say rubble
    because it is indistinguishable from ice, fire, dust,
    clay, flesh, tears, concrete, bread, lungs, pubis, god,
    say rubble, say water—
    the rubble girl digs for her rubble mother,
    occupation—disinheritance—once again,
    I had written this somewhere, in a workshop, I think,
    yes, it was an afternoon of dark poets with leaves, coffee
    and music in the liquor light room.
    A rock, perhaps it’s a rock, juts out, two rocks
    embrace each other, the shapes come to me easily,
    an old poetic reflex—memoria, a nation underground,
    that is it, the nation under-ground,
    that is why the rocks cover it.
    I forget to mention the blasts, so many things flying,
    light, existence, the house in tins, a mother in rags.
    It is too cold to expose her tiny legs,
    the fish-shaped back—you must take these notes for me.
    Before you go. See this
    the pools of blood.
    I ride the night, past the Yukon, past
    South Laredo, past Odessa, past the Ukraine,
    old Jaffa, Haifa and Istanbul, across clouds,
    hesitant and porous, listen—
    they are porous so we can glide
    into them, this underbelly, this underground:
    wound-mothers and sobbing fathers, they
    leave, in their ribboned flesh, shores lisp
    against nothingness, open—toward you,
    they dissolve again into my shoes—
    Hear the dust gong:
    gendarme passports,
    cloned maize men in C-130’s, with tears
    bubbling on their hands, pebbles
    en route—we are all en route
    to the rubblelands.
    I want to chant a bliss mantra—
    can you hear me?
    I want to call for the dragon-slayer omchild.
    I am on my knees again.
    On the West Bank count
    the waves of skull debris—a Hebrew letter
    for “love” refuses me,
    an Arabic letter for “boundary”
    acknowledges me.
    Sit on an embankment,
    a dust fleece, there is a tidal wave ahead of me.
    It will never reach me. I live underground, under the Dead Sea,
    under the benevolent rocks and forearms and
    mortar shells and slender naked red green
    torsos, black,
    so much black.
    En route:
    this could be a train, listen:
    it derails into a cloud.