“The Dome of Being Seen,” In Memoriam: Ren Hang (1987-2017)

RH 2016 05

there are no edges
to the light
of apprehension
as a sort of capture
a kind of remembering

whether or not
one realizes
it’s there
is a question

whether or not
it is there
is also
a question

(I want to say
that something about
the experience
becomes a convexing out
from the navel
as some sort of
center of being that
has as its central
principle seeing
an orbish projection
that wants the light
and isn’t concerned
with the exact
location of that towards
which the light as
seeing is presumed
to be something like
focused on –
or emanating from-
there is only a fuzzy
center of gravity)
the light-seeing wants
to touch

maybe that’s why
there’s so much pubic hair
in these photographs

maybe that’s why
pubic hair

light seeing
wanting to touch
close orbits

RH 2015 03

2.

the possibilities
inherent in
the miscellaneous
assembly of bodies
doesn’t necessarily
negate ennui
and ennui
doesn’t necessarily
negate that
which its anxiety
covers up as an
unnameable threat
which we now
know is simply
a lack

bodies fit together
here
red nail polish
writing words like
‘proximity’ on the
dome of being seen

the proximity of parts

the analysis
of an assemblage
that de-emphasizes
the stable identity
of that which comes
together
and begins instead
with the significance
of the proximity
of their parts
as though
that which came
together to enable
said proximity was
merely
a side-effect
a memory of
what used to be

what really happened

RH 2016 01

3.

therefore that
which was behind
has come to the fore:

bedroom walls
high rise suburbs

if I hold an animal
it’s so you’ll see
how different my skin
can be
according to its
proximity to certain
parts of my body

taught, purple
darkened crease
exploding with hair
luminous

however it is
is somewhere between
celebrated and holy

however it is, is
and my vision pushes
on the language
of smell, or of taste

blood as the shape
of words

RH 2013 01

for my dissertation
I will hold a peacock
in the nude

RH 2014 02

all images via RenHang.Org

FOUR POEMS

I’ve recently stumbled across four poems that were cut from the final version of COLORS MORE COLORS. You can read them below: a saucy true story about public sex and a lightning strike, a rumination on a bee at Codornices Creek, another rumination on Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee-level eschatology and mild depression I recorded one afternoon at People’s Park, and a eulogy on the mode and style of the poems in what was then my previous (/first) ‘zine, MY FIST IS A BOOK OF ETHICS. All of these are, of course and along with my collaboration with the inimitable Bonnie Cherry, available at both my Etsy store and via my Patreon. Be sure to keep your eyes open for next month’s IT’S HERE THAT I AM COMFORTABLE WITH MYSELF, HERE THAT I HAVE FRIENDS, in which I attempt to both sharpen and put to rest a mode of poetics I’ve been attempting to call the poetry of knuckles. More soon xo and all that.

May 20th, 2011

we ran into the library

soaked by rain, she

put me in her mouth

and then her self

we came and

lightning struck

the steam whistle,

its billowy contents

streaming

out into the storm,

when she noticed

that we’d fucked

next to Whitman

and Miller and

a student who

we didn’t know

was there

Degrees of Proximity Dictating Value

a small green bee

leaves behind no

orbits, nor follows

mindless, mindlessness

buzzes

Its shadow suggests a swarm

or the possibility of one

one of many

sound logic is anything but

knowing the way an animal

crouches before it pounces

or an insect floats or that

a plant grows imperceptibly

but that doesn’t mean we’re

blind, doesn’t mean god

doesn’t see us in order

to exist, doesn’t follow

mindless orbits

soundness of mind is like

the soundness of anything

else: it never actually has

it; is adjacent like smoke

causal like flowers facing

the sun, degrees of proximity

dictating value

there isn’t a mountain

for miles around and as

such it can’t be forced

to disclose itself, what

it can only suggest are

the possibilities made

such by its closeness

to the sun

perhaps granted by the

small trauma of the fact

that I have just killed

the small green bee

having swatted it once

and twice on its return,

sending it softly to the

ground into which I

smashed it with my

foot proclaiming

leave

me

alone

Whole & Entire

… and if the soil present

would itself be so kind

as to rise to the occasion

of swallowing the just and

the unjust so that it might

be known that in doing so

myth would be undone and

the world would fall apart

I would be grateful

grateful for the fistful

grateful for the grasp

and the grasping

grateful for the outness

of the sunlight

for that which I would

be unable to ever know

again would cover me

cover me whole

cover me entire

My Fist Was A Book Of Ethics

all that will have been

will be the case as well

if, that is, indeed, the case

so, you see, it must respond

in kind: by opening- we

are desperately in need of

the verb; to be, at least,

for a moment, the passive;

to have been opened unto

and so we needed the

verb of the question – the

activity that brought

about both the perfectly

present opening as well as

the state of openness

that shoots out an inability

to delineate the limits of

the verb to open, that forces

us to choose, to trace

a line of force from

emptying object to

emptying object until

what ends and begins

becomes a flow that

bleeds out its own

trajectory into every

nothingness

and so to regain,

to gather up our

useful singularity,

we must remember

the rhythm of

the litany along

which we travel

 

LET THE COFFEE DO ITS WORK

Untitled, dated “4/28/15”

let the coffee do its work

blood and the simple placing

of bodies into clothing, that

this or that is a scourge or

what-have-you:

we might liken this

to the frustration

of having approximation

as one’s goal, or only

possibility:

approximate enough of what

can only be approximated and

someday we’ll have filled out

the universe.

having deployed this faculty

I might then see where I

stand, but does it matter?

Its after-the-factness can’t

change what is/ what must

always be, can it?

Besides the problem of the other

we have this: that for this

act there is a suitable object

 

spaces to be filled

that hold what you fill it with

that you’re filling in the first place

 

let the coffee do its work

next to the question of a

necessary aloneness, that

of doing something like

thinking in a

speaking in a

language that is

as-of-yet non-interfaceable

with those of what’s come

to be the world

 

but that is precisely the point

that coffee does its work

that this deployment is

from and out onto materiality

 

that there are breasts slung

in brassieres, confused and

disappointed pensises caught up

in worn undergarments

buttholes and things painted

white for the shininess

lines of cops against crowds

of anger, hot like coffee

in its pot

 

my desire goes nowhere today

is not known by its frustration

nor its piqued interest

only I remember small wounds

that I can’t remember how they happened

the seeming nature of inconsequentiality

that poetry is also like a lab report

considering its own forwardness,, tied

to my own deployment out and into a

world

 

a world that meets me gently today

up to and against my knowledge of it

as concrete, cold, violence; instead no

it’s cool. A pale East Bay light seems

to pull its hardness back into something

like a dream

 

a police officer writing poetry

with his baton

in Arabic on my body, gently

 

poetry that I now must translate

 

into a world of languages

with too many right angles

 

too abrupt to ever allow

for the possibility that a cop

might make anything beautiful

with his baton, of my ribs

 

there is no analog

in the world

for the names of the dead

 

no color to fill the space

between possible meanings and

things that were meant

 

those who are both visible

and unseen are yet registerable

by bullets of all sorts

touchable

 

and hope works for many

that they might be forgotten

 

hope works against us

when our language is anger

 

when the streets of Baltimore

throb for the blood and glass

of those who would blot them out

 

the page longing to be filled

with a new language, heretofore

unreadable, now articulated

in all the cries against the

police, and the president,

and the state

 

An Unknown Poet Commits Suicide

Last September a young Chinese migrant worker by the name of Xu Lizhi committed suicide.  An apparently unpublished poet, his friends have collected his work and had a few of them published in a local newspaper.

We ran along the railway,
arriving in some place called ‘the City’
where we trade in our youth, and our muscle.
Finally we have nothing to trade, only a cough
and a skeleton nobody cares about.
‘Sleepless’

Midnight. Everyone is sleeping soundly,
We keep our pair of young wounds open.
These black eyes, can you really lead us to the light?
‘Night Shift’

And this one:

I swallowed a moon made of iron
They refer to it as a nail
I swallowed this industrial sewage, these unemployment documents
Youth stooped at machines die before their time
I swallowed the hustle and the destitution
Swallowed pedestrian bridges, life covered in rust
I can’t swallow any more
All that I’ve swallowed is now gushing out of my throat
Unfurling on the land of my ancestors
Into a disgraceful poem.

And this one, which was has last:

I want to touch the sky, feel that blueness so light
But I can’t do any of this, so I’m leaving this world
Everyone who’s heard of me
Shouldn’t be surprised at my leaving
Even less should you sigh or grieve
I was fine when I came, and fine when I left

Read more at The Washington Post or libcom.org.

Running / Running to Hounds

by Margaret Wise Brown

An old body

Rises up in the new

And leans forward into the wind

Made by its own running

Long strong leaps

As though the fields had springs

And my body hangs from the shoulders

As the shoulders help it along

And my fists climb the air

And the lean

muscles of

an old stomach

Come in my new stomach

And my legs run

on though my

weariness

Keep running

 

…from an unpublished and undated typescript at the Westerly Public Library in Westerly, Rhode Island, via Leonard Marcus‘ biography “Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened By The Moon.