Slant

BAD EDUCATION

Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Gemini, November 30, 2020, conjunct Aldebaran & opposite Antares, upstate New York. Photo: Sanya Kantarovsky.

“If I saw it
I felt it
If I felt it
I learned from it.”

—Peter Gizzi, “EVERYDAY I WANT TO FLY MY KITE,” from Now It’s Dark

“Generalizing is part of what causes depression. The more we generalize, the more separate we become. The more we get specific with each other, and actually hang out, and actually try to solve the problems, the better life is.”

—Taylor Mac

 

In The Changing Light at Sandover

The hierarchies of heaven

Are revealed to James Merrill

And his partner David Jackson

By their familiar, a handsome

Young Jew from 4th Century

Greece named Ephraim, whom

They contact via a Ouija

Board, their fingers guided

Over the alphabet on an overturned

Glass tumbler bathed in just a touch

Of rum, if I remember right.

Through Ephraim we learn

The world is about to be ended

By the Angel Gabriel

Who has grown fed up

With humankind (I think

For him the last straw

Was the Atom bomb)

But none other than Wystan Auden

Recently deceased at the time

Of the poem’s composition

(Again, if I remember right)

Is engaged mightily in pleading

Our case, the case for human life

For life on Earth, that it continue

And continue without end,

Not only to Gabriel

Though all the other angels acknowledge

It is G’s sole right to pull the plug

On us if he so chooses, but to everyone

In the beyond presiding

Over the universal forces

That move in their particular ways

Through our doings here at home.

That a gay poet should be charged

With speaking on behalf of all humankind

To the alltime glitterati behind

The veil is a notion appropriate

To a lunar eclipse in Gemini.

Life on Earth is a queer fact.

Everything is such a reflective

Surface. And yet, the second I relax

The specificity with which I apprehend

What I apprehend, all goodness

Congeals: everything is not

Everything, it turns out—even if it is. A forest

Of particulars, though it can be reduced

To data, dies without the animating

Compassionate heart of the poet

(Hermes bless us) and I like the thought

Of Wystan Auden arguing on behalf

Even of heterosexist hell culture

A tired housewife who’d hate him

Parking at Wal-Mart, lifting her daughter

Out of a plastic carseat. Wystan Auden

Pleading her case, not only the cause

Of hipsters, gays, intergalactic freaks,

The types who might for example read

This poem, the one I’m writing now.


Cat Power, Moon Pix, 1998.

I have a sore throat. I think a lover

Gave it to me. Now I guess I shouldn’t go anywhere

It could be the plague. You will judge me

For enjoying any love or pleasure so I’m only

Going to tell you the least of it.

I keep trying not to swallow so I won’t

Feel it, it will go away, but there it is,

Unmistakable. The childhood

Feeling of Coming Down With Something.

We broke the bed the other night.

On Election Day I was so anxious I used

My phone to make five men come

This is a skill I acquired from a physician’s

Assistant in Weehawken a few months ago.

A weird skill that when I relate it to friends

They express simultaneously disdain for its

Not being physical and maybe a little envy

I don’t know, it adds something to my day

To hear men moan my name while ejaculating

All over themselves. I’m not exactly sure WHAT

It adds to my day, but it adds something.

It is an extremely Mercurial way for sex to move

Illusion upon illusion, reflection upon reflection,

Having very little in fact to do with me

Yet the energy was generated and guided by me

And the energy warmed me. What even is sex

It seems not precisely to live inside a body

Yet ignites within and about a body

Almost like what happens with Tesla

Coils. The air stiffens, an arousal angrier

Than what happens when you and your lover

Are together in person:

You have to say dirtier, more specific things

There’s a melancholy silliness to it

I don’t know if it was Satan or what that taught

Human beings sex, but the eyes of the devil

The lolling tongue, the cruel animal voice

The whole rhetoric of human arousal is a hermetic

Act: imitative, highly impersonal, furious as blood

Like the blood standing up in the veins of the warrior

In one of Rilke’s Duino Elegies—the furies

Of generations boiling your blood

Which are not specifically you

Which is also why I’ve said nothing

Of love. I’ve said nothing of love

Because I’m not in it

But there are things I need to keep circulating

Around me in order to function as a person.

And if I were a gay man you would not question it.

But I feel like the air is love, the air itself

My auric bodies, enrobed in it, I do not feel

Unprotected, I do not feel cold. What are you doing

Erica Dawn texted me on election day afternoon

I’m trapped in sex jail I said and it’s inside my phone

You’ve rescued me.

We decided to go for a hike, do a ritual

To protect the electoral process.

There’s more I wish I could say, or I wish I’d

Written this a different way, but Mercury

Keeps bending my lines around the truth.

The element of Air is that through which

We seem to move, suspended in space

Or, hard and wet, phones in hand,

Separated by space, or when we are together

And you whisper I wish I could crawl

Inside you, still separated by space, and that’s

Exactly what I’m going to do. The element

Of Air might be the element we least understand.

What separates the Moon from Aldebaran, what

Keeps her there where she is, and me here?

What animates the space (is space the word?

Is Space the place?) between us? How much

Of the universe is in the particles I breathe

Now, in and out, through my sore throat

In my broken bed, from where I now write you?

My teacher told me the reason we cook turkey

On Thanksgiving is as a sacrifice to the Lords

Of the Air. When Saturn and Jupiter move into

Aquarius Air will take up its dominion over us

Even more fully than before. It sounds like more

Loneliness and more sophistication. Or maybe

(Since Saturn rules both Capricorn and Aquarius)

It will really be about structure, but instead of Time

A renewed consciousness of Space

Will legislate our lives. It feels weird and queer.

It feels specific, vague, digital, sexual, if love is in the air

And not specifically in me, if my heart,

Roseate and wet, were to tremble in the sky

Alone, visible to the naked eye like a planet, turning

And tuning its way thru my career

Analyzable by instruments, adorable

In frolicsome feeling, a rubber

Ball to be taken down out of the stars

Played with by a child

Or the true sun, the sun itself

Inside me always

Tricked about with language

And with flesh

But shining through my every

Distortion, or so I pray.

And shining through its every

Distortion. And so it is.


Enya, “Aldebaran,” 1987.

Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Gemini, November 30, 2020, conjunct Aldebaran & opposite Antares, Southern California. Photo: Harry Dodge, Moon Rings Over Eagle Rock.

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