Slant

THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH

Full moon lunar eclipse in Cancer. Photo: Ariana Reines.

Sometimes I think this entire culture five thousand years was just a rehearsal for the wrong apocalypse
Our original owners siphoned up an energy from colonized doomsday preachers
Whose own religion, a strange affair of a flame language incantations leather straps 
Amulets camels & tents
Must have seemed a bizarre perversion to the successful, to worshippers of gods

Some will tell you the alphabet was a secret math
Some will say our speech was a bovine eructation
A kind of polluting fertilization
Ferreting out of the air
A weird palazzo of the air
An edifice of clouds and hierarchies of heaven
Down whose rutted facade slides the sun
Like a bright medicinal ointment
So our world might be glanced off of
As a beam of white light would, hitting a clean medical instrument
Instrument of what?

In all our talk of the cosmos
Transacting the floes of mercury and Venus
And formal Saturn fastening our teeth to our heads
I myself, who knows better forgot to recollect what it smelled like in that dolmen
Under oak
I was doing at least some of what I perceived that I could

Because I allowed that he fasten 
Himself extremely deeply to me physically
I perceived in the man certain ancient memories
Which he exuded and which mixed with my sweat, which I then blessed
Without his knowledge
Do you ever get visions while fucking I asked him he said no

Dead leaves carry a living, even a cheerful fragrance
T.S. Eliot had crankish, querulous ideas about the world
His world is like a bunny’s pellet
I live around the corner from where he lived
In Cambridge Massachusetts
Poet, your immortality is CATS
And because something beats like the heart
Iambic through this language, I smell the ghost of you
Everywhere
In what remains of our owners’ authority
But also something better than you yourself
Living in your lines

The accuracy in
The prophecy in
For example Four Quartets
It’s good you could listen to people
And record what they sounded like
In the Waste Land, you know?
BE RECORDER, that’s the new book by Carmen
Giménez Smith, and RECORDER is Matt Wolf’s
New movie and I think it is also a band, it’s a rhythm that flew into my head
While your world was haunting me

I think measure
And lines, lineation
Is a help in draining from the truth
The obstructing presence of a person
And his perhaps idiot views
You have to be the sound of the world
Flowing through you and you have
Like a pointer on a delicate dial
To be made to tremble even by the sound
Of a sobbing child many hundreds of miles away
Which is a sound you have never exactly heard
But you have. And you can hear it. And the flame
That burned off the ears of a koala
Only one, and Anacaona
Moving
Moving
Anacaona moving underground

A man may buttress his person with stupid things he imagines could hold him up
While other flows run down his veins and out his hands
I’m not interested in apologizing for such a man
Only that I heard in his old poem the world
The very world
I still walk through today, even
With everything that’s happened.

I’ve heard old punks and singers say French symbolism and Wales was
Where their whole thing kind of came from, not all
That different from him, or me 

There is a precise moment when every scent
K has covered his body in to be polite
Is split by sweat and cut away by something bursting forth and ancient
Which he knows himself enough to worship
Quietly while walking around apparently practicing the new religions of our day
He has smuggled his heart into the dark
And told it it may at least pretend to love
I don’t know how to tell you how I noticed that’s what I was doing too
Like an old syncretic magic trick
A colonized Roman might have done
Expected to murmur the name of some Caesar before pouring out water and wine to her true
gods
Sex is one place for love to hide
Crucible of our basic goodness
Screen of witness
Where I feel unfolding from you I am not lying many many spools of time

It does well to be simple
I have learned how to behave
Living like a jar for certain preserved insights that unscrolled upon a slender banner, the gentlest
Form of scholarship glossing only delicately an unfolding situation that cannot be taught, only
experienced, rising among a faint and turning mist
Off the surface of the river


our sense of the verb “to remember” comes from the latin recordari, literally to pass through the heart.

TEN YEARS AGO Haiti’s earthquake convulsed the world into a renewed relationship with it. It might have been the first time the world looked in unison and lovingly on that place. For me, that event opened a chasm in my heart that remains open. For me the earthquake was part of the revolution, but I am a white Jewish poet with a family disordered by genocide; I am no historian, and anyone who spends more than three days in Haiti knows that there more than anywhere nothing is what it seems to be. It’s a different envelope for reality. Read James, read Danticat, read Frankétienne, Laferrière, Rigaud, Trouillot, Hurston, Deren, Gay. I’m their student. Some revolutions aren’t over, some difficult births are long, and the most courageous and most outrageous of Planet Earth’s avant-gardes has been made to pay in blood for centuries for its great precocity, its beauty, and its genius. Puerto Rico is seismic too, and hundreds of aftershocks have followed last week’s earthquake. Ten years ago I thought it was Anacaona herself shaking five hundred years of oppression off her back. But how to speak of the more than a hundred thousand dead. I thought of Anacaona when Puerto Rico shook too. A Taino tectonics for the NEW new world...

I wish I were a journalist, I have often thought in Haiti, with a flinty capacity to speak dispassionately. But that place changed my body; it affected me as love. Haiti is the first place I was shown the difference between mystical and historical time. I became a Divinity student in part to reckon this difference. The conjunction of mystical and historical time is one way to speak of Saturn and Pluto in perfect conjunction in Capricorn. But I have grown wary of spectating the stars. You’ll notice the stars on this Madonna and child, or Ezili Dantor, are stars of David. She was a gift from a dear friend. The preceding poem was written for a performance at Radcliffe. For some reason during my first months in Boston I found myself haunted by iambic pentameter. I know why. Because Massachusetts is the seat of the Old World, and The English language has a lovely, frolicsome power that unfortunately has also been part of the engine of colonial dominion. After the earthquake, in 2010, I bought an old copy of The Waste Land from a street vendor outside the ruined presidential palace. Reading that poem in Haiti was grotesque. I thought then the ravages of neoliberal colonialism were shortly to end. I thought something wild and generous was afoot. The energy of collapse is always an immense opportunity. Every mystic you meet will tell you what we are in is a difficult birth. This poem does not commemorate or do justice to the people I met ten years ago or the long friendships and gut-wrenching ironies of loving Haiti nor does this poem do honor to my teacher, Michel André. This poem is a weird digression animated by my love. Maybe best not to speak of it, only watch how love makes us move. 

Ariana Reines is a poet and astrologer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her newest book, A Sand Book, was longlisted for the National Book Award.

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