Bodies in Pain–on hurting and being hurt

Like so many since the Nova Scotia massacre in mid April, I have been having nightmares, and am often awake during the night. This terrible event has awakened all the old traumas…When I do finally sleep, waking each morning is like crashing into a low wall. I am editing a poem I had begun to draft before the massacre called Elimination Round about big game hunting in Mexico and its relationships to tourism and other forms of collecting, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of missing and murdered in Mexico these last few years, and I can hardly face it. The spent metal casings of .223 rounds are a debris field scattered behind and before us, the horror of so many lives lost and hearts broken a scorching flare turning the hours to ash. Continue reading Bodies in Pain–on hurting and being hurt

plants inside

Not sailing to Byzantium: on poetry in a time of crisis

No one sleeps the night through anymore. The wings of endings beat near our faces, drop bones into our dreams….But let us understand that we too will die, each of us; and that in our time of living it matters to reach out and to speak up against the increasing number of state gestures that threaten to become excessive force, surveillance and foreclosures of civil liberties. It matters to ask questions, and to try to conduct serious civil debate about the best routes to sound judgment and care. It matters to take time to listen to what the non-human parts of the planet are saying, as dolphins roll through Venice, and the air clears over Delhi and other industrial centres. It matters to reimagine our entitlements and travel plans, our airplanes and global expansions. What does a sustainable economy look like? Whom should it serve? What would it take to build it, and to engage both human and non-human actors? Why shouldn’t artists and poets study such things? Continue reading Not sailing to Byzantium: on poetry in a time of crisis

The Silence of the Songbirds

How can we attend to what we have not noticed? It took a week or ten days for the strangeness of the silence that surrounded us as we walked in the forest to become audible, to realize that it was not what we were hearing but what we were not hearing that was what was important. The realization didn’t come all at once. Continue reading The Silence of the Songbirds

Rereading or Practicing Surrealism? Method: short poems from novels

One final note. As I am finishing this text, I open my copy of Breton’s L’Amour fou, a(nother) book in his trilogy of novels dedicated to the unfolding of unexpected encounters and coincidences. A ticket falls out on which is printed the following command: “Please read carefully.” I do. Or rather, I read that line several times, since I don’t have my reading glasses with me, and what follows it is printed in type so painfully small that it devolves into wavering black squiggles, a drawing perhaps, another block of excised text. Definitely not words. Continue reading Rereading or Practicing Surrealism? Method: short poems from novels