TWIN FEARS, TWIN MOONS. TWO WOMEN. REFLECTION OFF MIRROR, REFLECTION ON WATER. CELLS DIVIDING. DOUBLE STUB. SPACE OR WATER. EMANATION OF PANGS, A DUO OF PULSES. ANXIETY, TERROR, PANIC, DREAD. SECOND EARTH. FIRST VOICE IN SECOND, HEADLIGHTS ON PAVEMENT. TOOTH BEHIND TOOTH. ON SPACE OR WATER. VULGAR FRACTION, ANOTHER MIRROR. WHAT IS A MOON? THERE’S NO CLEAR ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION.
Air is a mirror
their mature backsides
their full, unjuvenile backsides
laying on each other
looking at each other,
To explode into writing, to leave thought and posture for later, to forgive oneself enough, to turn and measure once cooled. To un-mule from process, to un- slave-drive into—align by force, to retch upon, blinking into your own highness, then: a gut burn, a better shutter, not entirely creamy in buoyance, not all positive, a hissing yes rising off night’s damp foal, she who darts and zags from your caress.
My translation of “Run Fast, Stand Still,” From Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury.
"My city opens before me like the buttered ass of an eager hussy, and I am free and I am King." –Rikki Ducornet as Marquis de Sade
School of coprolites and necrophores, of tubercles and gleet. All of it suppurating, glabrous, impecunious, alive.
Ethan sent me a video of a woman fucking a guy in the ass with the stump of her amputated leg. I’ve watched this video a teen of times: the woman butters her stump with an ointment of lube, the gentle formula applied to her nub like a parent’s finger on the supple anus of her babe.
Coroneted witch, woman with quartz on her tongue. Ducornet, de Sade, Bataille, Lispector. I continued to see Ethan until what disgusted me became boring.
The sorcery of the brain. To bunch down the switch and divert. A mouse cruises towards a vegan morsel of cheese. Try reading poetry to an idiot dog. You can’t drive the knife of meaning into her side. It’s easier to fuck and sleep in a gummy pocket of day. To pick ass, to smell crotch among the lint. To sit and giggle at nothing. The “fame” of poetry, a cold backside. Among the rafters: it’s simple then it’s not, like a teenager (asphyxiated teenager), swaying and tinted blue.
A thousand disappearances in space past boat. A blanket of feathers, a sedative. Or strand of DNA in a car. We think of the sea as beautiful, Weil says, because gravity gave her waves. But we view the sea as ugly when it swallows people who are innocent of causing her harm. If the waves altered its movement to save the boat, she wouldn’t be obedient to gravity. So a shipwreck advances the beauty of the sea. When shall I?
The publicity of drama: to ease the trauma of puberty by being read. The Livejournal, a public venue of confusion manufactured by the hormonal membrane we pass through to stabilize, recorded electronically. Kate Zambreno’s_ Heroines_: a poet’s guide on how to be part woman (part girl) with an affinity for melancholy, the black eyeliner of the poem. But KZ’s unhappiness is less teen, less gaudy in dress, it’s filtered, harnessed. It’s female: it’s non-fiction, confessional.
In Heroines, KZ spent some time talking about ripping “what really happened” from the writing as a gendered, male act. She believes “what really happened” is the feminine of the poem, a drama that men like Eliot and Pound wanted to stifle, delete. The male act: to posit that “what really happened” is bad writing.
I’ve said that the poet and her dream is trivial, and so I clip the word “dream” out of Meredith’s poem like a dead wing from the body of what is strange but still hers. The product: a child of “what was felt” or “what really happened,” transfigured by the silence of space or the decadence of sound. The question, confusion: is the hand that deletes Meredith’s “dream” from the poem invisible, male?
To be an essentially straight woman in literature means to live in the cold stain of a man whose work will be taken more seriously than our own, posits KZ. That cold stain of man may be the real—caught “true” on cement like a bag in a tree branch, an accident of the sun’s angle.
But that stain of man is an image, too, a theory. Living in need. Living and looking. Who even can break that horse “real” with writing?—
It started with an interview where the novelist Jerzy Kosinski talked about how he was thrown into a pit of human shit for dropping the bible at an altar service. He was a nine-year-old Polish Jew being hidden in a remote Catholic village during the purge of World War II, and this public mishap could have meant trouble for the village complicit in the act of hiding him. Though they meant to kill him, Kosinski survived. The gift of climbing out of a pit of human shit was silence—Kosinksi became mute for six years.
After reading the interview, I discussed this story with a friend at my favorite bar. I was obsessed with the notion that Kosinski wrote by wringing out old silence, the gift trauma gave him.
“But,” said Aaron at the bar, “Kosinski has been accused of lifting stories from novels that are well-known in Poland but not in the U.S.” Another friend friend left. We got up and moved into the cool air of outside.
Did Kosinski lift this story of the pit of human excrement from another person? Would he do that merely for the sake of publishing? I greened, silent in the motion of parsing what troubled me. That question again of genre: does “what happened” really matter?
I continued to read more about this author Kosinski, the man charged with lifting, augmenting the tragedy of other writers. Later, he addressed this media attack in a lecture called “On Fiction” printed in Oral Pleasure, a book of lectures and interviews he gave while he was living:
“After a while, when I began writing, I noticed the attitude toward fiction [in the US] was slightly different…there was always the issue of autobiography: was what I wrote actually autobiographical? If I said yes, then I was a vicious man who wrote vicious things. If I said no, then I was a liar…I pondered my predicament. On the other side of the Iron Curtain, my work was judged by whether or not it was directly political. In the United States, it was judged by whether or not it was directly autobiographical. Which was better?”
Thus Kosinski consoled me: the compulsion to understand “what really happened” in relation to writing is American, not male. Yet when I say this I know that it’s not so simple—so, Zambreno cut me with a knife whose gash wouldn’t seal, an implant that leered while I putzed, edited. Then Kosinski pulled it out and caulked it with some peasant shit.
The word “rump.” Hahahahahaha
Debasement. If I can’t debase myself, surely the TV has perfected the activity. Peering through plastic fronds, REALITY TV, my antidote to the seriousness of poetry, the grim-straight lips of my soul.
I Love New York. John Waters. Divine. Harmony Korine. Rock of Love, Rock of Love Bus, Rock of Love Bus 2. Dash Snow. VH1. The feeling of disgust, my only only.
Anyway, I came from garbage, the daughter of a prison plumber, daughter of a man whose feet are baptized in shit. I came from garbage. I rose up from a borrowed backyard with a noon glaze and twigs mussing my malformed head. It was summer. I wore tye dye and was born in love with an artist, born confused about fact and fiction.
Yeah, the floor is a place to fling oneself, but where further once flung does one go? Oh, my dewy limbs, the dewy skin of TV. The fan set on low in the far dark, me speechless, ringed in wind. Good American. Say it: Good American. Pat my potbelly. Pat my head.
Ally Harris teaches and writes in Portland, OR. Her newest chapbook of poems Her Twin Was After Me will be published by Slim Princess Holdings in August 2014. You can read more of her poems online at Typo, BOMBLOG, Sixth Finch, Sink Review, and Tarpaulin Sky.