Tuesday, October 12, 2010
By Kieran Neal
Don't open your eyes too often, she said. It's sleep you need. Don't stare into the sun, and be wary of what it shines upon. There's more plaster in this city than you can believe. Cover your collarbone; the wind gasps and grabs at your throat with its scheming. And it was all whispered in the oblivion of a coma.
There's a building wrapped in bricks and the bricks are camouflaged by ivy; the ivy is dying in a blaze of russet scraps and the whole building is burning. This framework wrapped in cremation and this feeble old tramp stare at each other in the seething light, the sun singing and spitting down at them.
Man and all his soul will gaze upon true glory for a moment:
But this blooming vision of raw marvel is a rough wound to man and his consciousness. He has no sense of it, but it will clutch at him. It will hold this vagrant who is you and I, and he will wonder at this rain that falls in the light; on the rooftops of this city; on the whorl of headline printed sidewalks; on his head; and on yours.
And so he cauterizes his wounds with rough labels, with this language we have: this coarse medium, this currency we exchange for thought. It is... inadequate, aloof, unfeeling but filled and infused with our tears. Poets are prospectors in this stream of articulation.
The mouths of mailboxes are rusted over with wine; the dogs are inside the forsaken houses, flitting in and out of existence, and with them, the laws that tell us when a fish erupts from the water and his gills gasp, he is given his last glimpse of glimpse of life-if only he were a mammal and if only he were to die.
The dramatists of our language grasp at these images; these unspeakable, unknowable enigmas, flipping and twisting across the beach and her breakers. in the night, castellated movie marquees, apartment houses, strange tenements. They seize periodicals and publications, cutting and harmonizing violent paper mache thoughts, pasting them to hot air balloons under the scrutiny of warehouses. Unweighted and even worse, made of thinner stuff than the words themselves. They fly away over thronging crowds and explosions of light, whipping on the wind through the tremendous spires of high-rises. They swoop, covering incomprehensible sprawls: cross-streets, ghostly sorrow, dark mystery. These balloons can never make it from these streets that refuse to straighten themselves and the multitude of flash explosions, islands of daylight in the night of the city. So they fall into brackish waters of the rivers and the bum rushes to greet them.
He sets the letters alight so they float on, flickering down the river like chinese lanterns. Under the black limbs of bridges, over the hallucinated waterfalls pouring into imaginary, uncomprehending depths. From there: castles, abandoned mountains still shackled to the terms we describe them by; the middle English snobs and modern men all run, run, run and catch the falling light, inhale the scent and the particles of the very Thing itself. These words. These beautiful words they taste and breathe, the pieces of them that escape the scent and weaken their pungency. Unknown, those last recondite scraps tumble into the unending depths, and do not resurface in the pages and odes written for them and their return.
These pieces are not langauge, they are vibration, they are the marvelous whirlpools of uproarious confusion. So look to the vagrant, the hoodlum sleeping under yesterday's headlines and tomorrows prophecies! Inhale the truth off the page; wipe your fingers across; stain them and rub it beneath my nose like all the literary moustached men of the nineteenth century.
Crumple up their definitions and smear them on your cheeks like rouge adultery, turn them to black ivy and char your construction, fill your mouth as the bums. Incoherent ash clogs the nose and the skin so neither can breathe. Then it is there and in that gasp of asphyxiation! The fish above shining wonder and rippling waterfalls.
We gasp together, him for water and I, for anything but these thoughts that congest the mind, the scribblings of lunacy. Anything for that flash of the pineal gland, those vibrations scratched in the sunlight outside of years, in which bravery comes easily and our love crosses fresh frontiers in the colored air.
Take us back from the brink of our war in which our dreams were left submerged. Take us to crystalline rain and purple flowers. Take us to jettison our yesterdays. Take us to the excitment of normal and endearing things. New seasons, bus stations, the unutterable sweetness of azure wings flitting over streets rupturing and spewing out the foliage of skyscraper foliage, and the puzzle of the bum.