Slant

A VALEDICTION FORBIDDING MOURNING

Photos: Ariana Reines

A VALEDICTION FORBIDDING MOURNING

after the rain hit
the creosote the sun
hit it & a fragrance
wild & sweet was hitting
me, a springtime
sensation of rising seed
confusing the seasons
undoing the doom i clasp
& unclasp like the warm
gem in the keats poem
but this was not the prescription
you asked for
& the moon is full
not new. i came to truth or
consequences for my
own safety. i had passed
thru the doors of bellevue
under the sign “EMPLOYES” (sic.)
to face my parent
in donated shoes, without
her wig, clothed in hospital
issue pajamas & all her illusions
scummy, like an old fish
cooked to death
a rubber gag version
of a human aura, i’d passed
thru a nite out w eileen
jill masha
& emily who when
eileen introduced
me said, “the playwright?”
it never occurred to me
to think i might
be one of those. telephone
changed my life said emily
it changed mine
too i said. but a narrow
alley of reportage dividing
my predictions from
this report should keep
me in my lane.
                       did you see
the moon this morning
asked a man in passion
pie cafe. by god
it was beautiful, it was
huge & so bright he
said. at the new
moon i was in buenos aires
bleeding, with a kavanaugh
migraine, a little bit falling
in love w everyone
savoring the terror
& the motes
of death in unfamiliar angles
of the sun which felt like history
to me, the tortured
& disappeared parents
of my new friends, a burnt
andean redness the avenues
awash in it pyramidal mandarins
& walls of cilantro & cabbage
acreages, the pampas for real
lush with mud & cattle
a sow with eight rows of full-on
breasts & kavanaugh just
kept bleeding, now into
the effluent of videla
churning thru the ducts
in the hearts of the artists
sweating on the dancefloor
kissing three at a time
into the demagogue rising
in brazil. sorry ceci
said we are preoccupied
with the news. so am i
i said, we all are, even if
it’s true when you’re away
from your own country
the quarrels in another
seem “understandable”
in the way no response
to anything cannot somehow
be construed as human
& even if profoundly unjust
somehow part & parcel
of the greater, deeper, more horrible
& boundlessly sweeter justice
of the unfathomable whole
but my friends
were all so new & so very
beautiful, pounding
their beers & huffing
their bumps & eating
their cigarettes
determined to go on
all night, forever
making & talking
fucking thru the changing
of the guard, the supposed
obsolescing of jazz
my love my love
ruffling your hair

normally my column
appears on the new moon
last month tho the full
moon was when my period
came—it switched.

Mom at Bellevue after two weeks on Risperdal.

but now it has to be a poem
because venus turned backward
in sympathy with lot’s wife
& does a slow & mournful quadrille
thru the moshpit
dust in her eye
spit, mud, & cum on her dress
as though wading through a world
that had forgot it’s
sweetness that makes life
worth living, that makes you
want to live
& sweet alreadiness
a kind of rare trust
when you behold
a hand that shows
it knows the weight
of every last thing
it has ever ever held
a taurean truth
old-fashioned
beauty. i mean the kind
you can see & touch
the kind that means
the ground, unraped
pushes up the seed
acclaims your foot
admits your body
before & after
your departure
& blowing up the symbols
of the old left
which almost but didn't
happen today
seems part of the exploding
ground of reality
itself, where the true
revolution is in the soil
not in the righteous
indignancy of victims
which the very worst
among us also believe
themselves to be

a strategy of the freedom
riders, a thoughtform
under which they trained
was in receiving blows
as though having volunteered
for them. this is the last
& only way to short
circuit the bad that may
converge on you. the truck
driving into you. the police
the heavy body holding
you down & sliding
into you to bury
its poison in you for as long
as you’ll be the fertile
ground for the blooms
the dealer thought
better to discharge in you than
transmute himself some other
where, who had no art
to tell his badness
to or if he did
it was a false art. when the very
worst emerges, the blue
wave not rising quite high
enough to clear the seawall
think hard on when last you
were the one slamming
the poison into yourself
and of your own volition
we repeat what we undergo
until a grace arrives
if i am compelled
i will refuse
if my refusal is met with blows
i then refuse the oppression
and volunteer my neck to the knife
i demand grace
i insist on grace
i volunteer
this is what the saints did
not endure but transmute
the bad done to them
into a coin, redeemable
in the cosmic economy
like the rat offering her
brains to our science
and like the cow
whose flanks i sink
my teeth into
sacrificial taurean
meeting her end if not
in outrage then, in a curving
grandin onramp,
quietly and beautifully
secreting none of the ointments
of horror that damage
the products of her death
& locking the moon & sun
in our horns, onward into
the thinning of the veil
you must
you must stop lying to yourself
you must drop the rationalizing
or else mercury will stop
being your friend. he has every
right to fuck with you.
saturn would steady, not scold
you if you could learn to stop
flinching when under his eye
& as for the pornographic
suffering manufactured
for us by the television
writers, that suffering
& the serial elaboration
of endurance that seems to make
us feel better about our own
lot, when uranus dips
back into the sign of the self
he will need a lot of space
figuring out how to make
enough room to be in you
is how the bardic gift
descends the spinal column
reaching down into time
past & time future, digging
down to china, li po
drunk & witnessing himself
in the light moving like a hand
over the mountains.
on my last night in buenos
aires juliana kept saying
you don’t look american
you know how to talk with your eyes
maybe it’s cos i don’t
speak the language
no, no said juliana
who is despotically
kind, that is not why
i could tell you more
but to the extent
i can be truthful
while speaking generally
& the extent
to which i can be personal
while writing publically
more will not be wise.
serve sweetness
develop a discipline
citizen science
& a strategy of self-ratification
& self-blessing
your derangement
& empathic suffering
release nobody from prison
remember your codependency’s
sweetness has a shelf life
you don’t have to give yourself
to everyone you want
just like every impulse
need not be surrendered
to. whose mind is this
anyway? beholding
my mother in the visiting
room i felt i was sitting
with a shamed & ruined
god. if you were god,
how would you treat
yourself? imagine a god
losing all her power.
how would she get it back?
or maybe discover
a different power
altogether, just lying there
among the rejects
in the filth
upon which the egalitarian
sun falls
urging you to come to life

Elephant Butte, New Mexico, October 24, 2018.

Ariana Reines has written this column variously since September 2017. This is her farewell.

ALL IMAGES