Friday, February 28, 2014

#98: Ant Cartography

--for Yuh-Shioh Wong who understood when I told her I am a painter 

DAY ONE: I followed an ant back to his nest in the Chihuahuan Desert, a little juniper seed in his mouth. I drew a line on paper, following as he crawled around cactus and over pebbles. The cooperative kingdom of ants has always fascinated and frightened me much the way obedient men and women are when god and country are their foremost concerns. I never envy the ant carrying his seed into the underground food stores, programmed to question nothing, programmed to never run away or kill himself. Carry the seed, climb, burrow, and maybe the angel of death will show mercy and send a hungry bird or tarantula. No one will know you are gone no one will care, every other ant too busy working working WORKING! When Nana Conrad died they had her funeral on a Saturday so no one
would have to miss a day of work work WORK at the factory.

DAY TWO: I took the ant map to a random part of the desert, followed it to a small rock, a kind of oblivion, unexpected but solid nonetheless. I sat on the rock like an egg, wanting to hatch the rebellion! How much straining! I drew the map on my naked body behind shrubs, my third eye the nest entrance, tracing the journey in reverse, taking notes of my every memory of doing what I was told, toward some standard of goodness. HOW do we create a kind, generous, but disobedient world? Later I took a strand of cooked spaghetti, arranged it in the shape of the ant map. When it dried I took it to the entrance of the nest. I said, “I DON’T KNOW WHICH ONE OF YOU GAVE ME THIS MAP, BUT I’M GIVING IT BACK!” I crumbled it around the hole for the industrious little beings to carry it piece by piece to their queen for her approval. Do what you need to do, but I’m writing a poem from my notes.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

#97: MARFA POETRY MACHINE in 36 Things

--for the night eagle

“Well it’s just that Elizabeth Taylor’s head keeps getting in the way.  But I am there, mostly behind her left ear.”
                  --Ed Graczyk, Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmie Dean, Jimmie Dean

The Lannan Foundation presented me with a generous fellowship to live and write in beautiful Marfa, Texas for two months.   My mother thinks I’ve pulled off a bank heist that anyone would be foolish enough to pay me to write my poems.  I said, “I know Mom I know, it’s amazing with all the love our country gives to war and genocide that there’s any left over for a poet!”  I did 36 things a day for 36 days, taking notes between each thing, the notes harvested later for the poems.  Here is a list of the things I did to create the MARFA POETRY MACHINE:

1:  SAGE POETS
Burn sage to honor a different living poet each morning, saying the poet’s name out loud while wearing a ceramic hamsa my friend Erica Kaufman gave me.

2:  CRYSTAL SOUSE
Place the day’s food on my crystal altar, the steady pulse of crystal frequencies saturating plants, beans and grains.

3:  REIKI SUNRISE BEFORE SUNRISE
Watch sunrise on Edgar Cayce Institute Meditation Room webcam in Virginia Beach while giving Reiki to myself, preparing for the sun’s arrival in Texas. 

4:  REIKI SUNRISE
Watch sunrise on porch while giving myself Reiki.  Setting my day by the sun plugs me into the natural clock.

5:  YOKO MOLECULAR INFUSION
While cooking breakfast play the song RISING by Yoko Ono.

6:  CELL KNITTING
Chew each mouthful of breakfast 36 times, meditating on food cells becoming my own cells of Yoko-Crystal infusion.

7:  ELVIS PENETRATING CRYSTAL
Meditate on a postage stamp of Elvis Presley (a gift from friend Jenn McCreary) through a clear shaft of flawless citrine, the guardian gemstone of manifestation.

8:  ELVIS BLACKOUT
Wearing headphones sitting inside a closet with door closed listening to the length of one Elvis song different each day then as it finishes take notes by flashlight.

9: MARFA GRATITUDE
Standing in front of the house on Summer Street taking a slow 360-degree view, grateful for the people who make Marfa what it is.  You can surround yourself with the best art in the world, but what actually makes a town is its citizens, and Marfa is home to some of the most thoughtful people I have ever met. 

10:  LOG BENCH VISUALIZATION
Sit on log bench in Summer Street Park.  Gaze at the landscape without blinking.  Close eyes and remember what was seen.  Open eyes and look for what was missed.  With each day the contents of the landscape grows more complete inside.  Later while falling asleep I visualize the park, seeing the details clearer and clearer through the weeks.

11:  GIANT SEGMENTS
Watch five and a half minutes of the movie GIANT that was filmed in Marfa, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean.

12:  COLOR COORDINATES
Focus on a color outside the Pueblo Market on cars, sidewalks, buildings, or the sky. Then walk the market aisles to find the color on cans and other packaging.  Read the ingredients of canned peas as if it is the legend to a map.

13:  PINE SENTINEL
All my life I’ve made friends with trees.  I take my magnifying glass to the giant pine growing behind an abandoned building near Pueblo Market.  She is tall and old and Donald Judd must have taken notice of her perfect symmetry of branches holding herself in spaces of green, brown, and angelic exhale of crown.

14:  APHRODITE’S ELEMENT
Place a penny on railroad tracks next to the post office.  Copper is the metal of Aphrodite – the goddess of Love – and we must not forget her element in our lives.

15:  SOTOL SNAKE SAUNTER
Walk a snake pattern through the long rows of enormous sotol plants at the corner of Oak & High outside The Chinati Foundation.

16:  SHUT UP AND SLIDE
At the Travis E. Self Memorial Park climb the sliding board.  Take notes at the top.  Send the notebook down the slide then follow it no matter who watches.

17:  RAILROAD PYRAMID
Climb hill near MARFA RAILROAD PEN.  Face across tracks, find three stationary objects then imagine a line connecting them.  Study contents of triangle especially look for the large dark chicken, she lives there and she is a beautiful chicken.

18:  CHICKEN SONGS
Sing to the large dark chicken even if she’s not visible.  But sing like a chicken, one very large dark chicken serenade she might appreciate.

19:  MARFA HIBACHI
Stand at intersection of Highland Avenue and San Antonio Street imagining a restaurant with a giant canvas at the entrance with brushes and paints for customers to add to.  The choice to not paint is a thousand dollars for a glass of water, a salad, or cookie, the high price of denying collaboration.

20:  JUDD’S FALLEN GIANT
For years I’ve viewed Donald Judd’s work in museums as an immersed study on chakras, spinal discs aligned and lit from within.  In Marfa I drive down South 67 to see Judd’s massive concrete blocks in the desert, like the remains of a fallen giant a kilometer in length, spinal cord fossils with flesh of Texas wind and sand.

21:  MARFA ALOHA
Give a stranger a poetry broadside.

22:  DESERT WITCHES
Read five pages a day of Marc Simmons’s 180 page book, WITCHCRAFT IN THE SOUTHWEST:  Spanish & Indian Supernaturalism on the Rio Grande.  (I found myself routing for the witches, no matter what prejudices the author attempted to instill.)

23: WITCH DANCE WORKOUT
Each day I sit on floor to follow Mary Wigman’s Witch Dance like a Jane Fonda workout video for the spirit.  I believe Wigman may be the first contemporary dancer to consciously turn dance into a trauma release ritual.  In an interview she said, “I was once completely confused and unhappy.  I locked myself in the guest room of my parent’s home and in great consternation I sobbed and cried because I did not know anymore what to do with my life.  There on the spot I discovered suddenly that in all my unhappiness I was moving and I was moving in such a way that I had never moved before.  And also suddenly this moving became an expression, speaking out.”  --Mary Wigman, dancer and choreographer. 

24:  SWEET POTATO BABY DOLL
The grocer said my sweet potato is organic, but I love all sweet potatoes, organic or filled with toxic sprays and fucked up genes.  I cradle my sweet potato, breast feed my sweet potato, rock her back and forth, singing her name, Tara, Tara.  My mother said this would have been my name if I had been born a girl.

25:  REGRET-REVERSAL SPELL
Close eyes and think of an embarrassment from the past.  Imagine the former self in the situation shrugging and laughing.

26:  WE ARE ALL COGS OF A BEAUTIFUL MACHINE
Find one natural item a day, a twig, little stone, feather, a bit of fluff on a breeze, and wind it, twist it into my longest strands of hair.

27:  COGS OF A MARFA POETRY MACHINE
Arrange found natural items on back porch, a growing machine.

28:  PAGE 36
Read page 36 of a book by a different Lannan fellow each day.

29:  YOKO MOLECULAR INFUSION PART TWO
While cooking supper play the 2007 song YES, I’M A WITCH by Yoko Ono.  “Each time we don’t say what we want to say we’re dying.”

30:  CELL KNITTING PART TWO
Chew each mouthful of supper 36 times, meditating on food cells becoming my own cells of Crystal-Yoko infusion.

31:  REIKI SUNSET
Watch sunset over the desert at end of Third Street while giving myself Reiki.  (I’ll have two sunrises a day but only one sunset to cheat the grave.)

32:  LOST HORSE
Have one shot of Jack Daniels at The Lost Horse Saloon to meet people and enjoy this space where one night a woman rode a beautiful white horse INTO THE BAR.  Ask Tim Johnson at the Marfa Book Company, we were having a drink together.  The lost horse always finds its way.

33:  MARFA LIGHTS
Look for the Marfa Lights at the viewing station on Route 90.  Every night I saw them, sometimes as balls of white light rising from the earth, other nights riding the air sideways and changing colors.  Someone told me they were reflected car lights.  I said, “Oh really, then what were they in 1888 and earlier, long before the metal horse arrived in Marfa?”

34:  FOR THE ARCHITECTS WE LIVE WITH
Each night I play the CD DUET FOR PEN & PENCIL, ELECTRIC DIRT, composed by Christine Olejniczak.  Then I walk from room to room with a flashlight to study the house designed by architect Kristin Bonkemeyer.  I pause in each room to note THIS is where I write in Kristin’s drawing, THIS is where I play music in Kristin’s drawing, THIS is where I cook, eat and dream in Kristin’s drawing.

35:  PECCARY VIGIL
Sit quietly on front porch hoping to spot the tribe of javelinas who like to eat the prickly pear cactus in the yard.  Several nights THERE THEY WERE, little chattering tusks, hairy, stinky, and glorious to behold.

36:  SAGE POETS PART TWO
Burn sage to honor a deceased poet each evening.  For instance, R.I.P. Amiri Baraka who died the first week I was in Marfa.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

in issue 7 of……………...d i o d e MAGAZINE

YOU DON'T HAVE WHAT IT 
 TAKES TO BE MY NEMESIS 

New (Soma)tic Poetry Ritual & Resulting Poem 
CLICK HERE to read
 ((((MANY THANKS TO THE EDITORS))))

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

NAROPA Summer Writing Program, 2014

BLOODSTONE QUARRIES 
OF THE SPLEEN 
is my workshop this year 
click HERE for details


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

#96: TAROT AS VERB TAROTING MEAT

                  --for Selah Ann Saterstrom

“I saw you, sister, standing in this brilliance.”
                  --Paul Celan

Seeking potential conversations with the dead in grocery stores?  Lacking the respect of a churchyard, stacks of chopped bodies wrapped in plastic and styrofoam, stamped with dates and prices, the refrigerator is not the grave the human stomach is the grave.  Grocery store refrigerators are like any morgue awaiting someone to claim the body.  Take a deep breath, close your eyes and listen.  There is a particular and very noticeable chatter beneath the clear plastic shrouds, making the listener enter a quiet, cold meditation.  Stand before the hacked animal joints, stomach and shoulder fat, and cut the tarot deck nine times, then read the cards.

Memories stored in flesh all flesh all humans and other animals on the prairie, by the bay, in the city, or incarcerated in prisons or zoos (which are prisons built to amuse children and their nescient parents).  Memories of joy and suffering, anyone who has received extensive massage or acupuncture knows the body can release feelings long secluded in muscle and other tissue.  It’s a glorious thing such freedom.  Give this to grocery store animals with their fur ripped away, their tongues removed, their bones cracked and sawed from ligaments.  Pull the cards, pull them, see how they walked and felt the touch of sunlight.  Unfetter a bit of the pain.  One, two, three cards pulled for chops, roasts, and hamburger patties.  Take notes about love you have known for those who were shown none.  Notes from taroting at the display of conformist serial killing will become a poem, another communiquĂ©, one for humans loosening their impediments of ignorance of suffering.


BLOODSTONE workshop in beautiful Tucson

all details for workshop AT THIS LINK