Slant

Festina Lente

Saint Lucy.

MY BREASTS & THE BASE OF MY ABDOMEN & THE FLESH AROUND MY KIDNEYS are filling with particles of sorrow. This is what gets disbursed into me monthly. It is my most reliable wage. The languishing weakness that presses down on my inguinal hinge. The gently eviscerating heat and dread licking up at my root from my inner thighs. Humiliating it gently, without words or situations, drawing upon it as an insect might draw from a flower, bidding me procreate.

Welcome to my minimum monthly allotment of suffering.

Welcome to the technology by which I feel the world, which comes through me by nothing but the grace of the great bounty of the universe.

I should be bleeding any second now.

I’m in an old bungalow in Venice California that will be torn down in a month.

Moon Juice is around the corner. People glide by on silent digital scooters that bear the word BIRD. I walk among wakenbakers and the tanned and muscular surfing homeless. I walk among tech bros in flip flops and cardigans. I walk behind willowy women in muumuus and mom jeans. I break bread, actually no bread, among lifehackers & kundalinos. Gold’s Gym still thrives, but Muscle Beach is now called Google Beach.

Last night I went to a talk at Ohr HaTorah Synagogue. Leonard Cohen’s rabbi presides there. You look familiar, he said, have we met before? We had not, to my knowledge, I told him.

It may dismay you to learn Leonard Cohen’s rabbi’s talk was on a book by Jordan Peterson.

Rabbi Mordecai Finley PhD has bright eyes, a virile mien, and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He grew up in Compton. On Heidegger, Nietszche, Kierkegaard, and Jung, I found his reasoning sound. I am not learned enough to judge his reading of Marx nor his account of the Torah as an elaborate and symbolistic record of “how things can go wrong.” What he had to say about Palestine was not impressive. In any case I have felt for some time I might do well to talk with a rabbi. I have seen things in the desert. This may not be the last I hear from Rabbi Mordecai Finley PhD.

In the Jewish calendar, which is lunisolar, the new moon is considered a minor holiday and a women’s holiday (same difference some might say), Rosh Chodesh, the head of the month. I predict this minor holiday will become major over the next hundred years. I propose we all wait to bleed til Rosh Chodesh. But I am getting ahead of myself.

In the old days, Rosh Chodesh was marked by fires lit on the end of sticks and waved around on hilltops. The new crescent moon had to be sighted by several witnesses and these witnesses had to draw what they saw and their drawings had to be checked against each other and the valid ones verified by the Sanhedrin. One way to deal with not exactly being sure when the new moon first appeared and when it was no longer new was to make a holiday last two days instead of one. And where once it marked the appearance of the crescent moon, the Jewish calendar now correlates Rosh Chodesh, apparently, with the astronomical and astrological calendars, in which New Moon time means no moon is visible in the sky, no slender crescent yet shows. As long as she is in the dark belly of the heavens, conjunct the sun, she is on the verge of springing into new life, held like a seed in its jelly or an egg about to drop or balls about to drop, at twenty-two degrees of Gemini, the sacred twins to which more and more women nowadays give birth, the trickster brothers at the origin of Bibles and great cities, the mystic doubles dancing in the shadows of every single one of us.

TOEAC performs J.S. Bach’s Passacaglia in C minor, 2013

Since last we met I have read poems in Cambridge, London, Glasgow, London again, & Los Angeles. I can’t tell you everything, but since Mercury presides over Gemini and Mercury is the lord of roads and travelers and poets and thieves, and since the moon is withholding my menses like a bank holds an uncleared check, I will tell you a little bit about what I ate and with whom this last moon cycle, in honor of Anthony Bourdain, and I will also say what I have carried, in memory of Kate Spade.

I went to visit Rachel Levitsky in Paris. I was carrying a red tote that said SONG CAVE SNAIL CLUB that Alan Felsenthal gave me. When it broke, Rachel gave me a Belladonna Collaborative bag and had me model it. I suck at pictures but for some reason Rachel and this Belladonna bag made me relax in a way I seldom can when a device is involved.

With Rachel L and Hamza Walker I ate pickles. With Sophie Robinson I ate falafel, boxed soup, hothouse grapes, dosa, smoked salmon, avocados, Wagamama, chips both British and American, nuts in bags, pickled beets, and washed it all down with coffee and tea and shitloads of Diet Coke, which is the nondrunkard’s tequila. With Ruth Novaczek I ate beets and humus and tahini and conveyor belt sushi. With Cole Swenson I ate a French burrito and with Lee Ann Brown and Tony Torn I ate a delicious late night vegan concoction Tony created in mystic, arcane Cambridge, with its mists of Plath and Hughes and Hawking. Across from Nathalie Rozanes I drank coffee. I went into the Rosicrucian bookstore after we saw a show by a famous Belgian artist whose name I forget, which I could look up but I don’t want to. The show was really good. Jan Fabre. I didn’t have to look it up I just had to wait a minute. For some reason Nathalie didn’t want to go into the Rosicrucian bookstore. I bought incense in there made of rose and sandalwood. It’s a gift for my teacher Michel André, a Gnostic bishop in Haiti. With Liz Larner I drank Moon Juice. With Vilda I ate mangos. Dennis Cooper and I had vegan lasagna on our way to the Museum of the Hunt and of Nature. In the presence of Pierre Guyotat, who consumed only plain water at a cafe down the street from where he was recovering from knee surgery, I drank a Diet Coke. Elaine Kahn and I walked across London on the day of the Royal Wedding, after a meal of lox and shakshuka. When I met Andy Robert we didn’t eat anything, but we looked at some crazy Gaugins. Donatien Grau showed us Cezanne’s response to Manet’s Olympia and it fucking blew my mind. Then D and I both ordered a runny, dispiriting quinoa, and the next day the Musee d’Orsay filmed me talking about a different Cezanne, one of the ones full of apples, which basically resembles like my face. With Matt Fishbeck and his mother I ate tacos and drank Virgin Marys. Before Marianne Costa read my tarot cards and before I read her natal chart, we ate the most delicious dumplings and glass noodles and quivering mushrooms I have ever tasted, in a depopulated Chinese restaurant run by a radiant woman, clearly lit from within by the vitality known only by women who do as they please to their own highest standard. With Michael Silverblatt I ate two plates of roasted vegetables and a cake of hazelnuts, dark chocolate, and raspberries. And with Ali Liebegott I had an omelet.

I found a Psalm that commands the lord be praised with trumpets on the New Moon. I took a picture of what I thought was Belladonna yesterday. My best friend told me that it was in fact a variety of poisonous nightshade called brugmansia, aka Angel’s Trumpet. My phone camera used to be even dirtier than my glasses. It finally broke. Now it is crisp and clear, which is going to change my life.

I have several times since we last spoke wished to cry and been moved to the edge of tears, but they have not come.

In London I developed some kind of allergy on my eyelids, in my tear ducts, and ever since then I’ve been dry, like Kris Kristofferson says he is in To Beat the Devil. Maybe a little crust in the morning. It could be I’ve stepped out of the orbit of a certain lachrymosity, out of tears and onto the road with its passing, lovely friendships, or maybe my maternal planet has hardened into a gem.

Kris Kristofferson’s “To Beat the Devil,” 1970

Tonight, as with last night, in honor of the New Moon in Gemini, rather than waving around a flaming stick from atop a hill or abstaining from labor as is my right I’ll be propitiating three Leonards, Bernstein, Cohen, and Nimoy, with lit candles. And maybe a mustard bath. And a few prayers I make up without thinking too hard.

One thing about Gemini is it’s both two and three. Because once you get to two, some would say, you’re simply in the realm of many. After them, the deluge. Strange bedfellows, bad teams, busted buddy flicks, dude where’s my car. The shining brother and the hidden one, Jesus and his twin, Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated, Romulus and Remus, Castor and Pollux, Odette and Odile, Captain Hook and Daddy, Sylvia Plath and Assia Wevill, Bouvard and Pecuchet, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

The moon is for learning to talk a new language, Uranus in Taurus says the pace of what is truly revolutionary will not be haste, and the upcoming Mars Retrograde invites us to inquire after, explore, experiment with, and even hack those drives that feel most primal, primitive, and basic. Beware of anyone who would justify a behavior or a phenomenon or a catastrophe to you based on what is supposedly ancient, or legitimated by primate or mollusk behavior, or or mere tradition. We are in a state of mutation. The proof that we can change is in the fact that we do. Eaters all, and carriers of bags, with the freedom to die by our own hand and alas, in this vicious moment, the apparent freedom to wantonly murder, we are a strange species, more than nothing but the brief elaboration of a tube (L. Cohen), perhaps haunted by the crypts of our stomachs (A. Ronell), and yet so eminently capable of wonder. Gemini discovers the world as its plaything, with the dewy guilenessness of a child first forming words in its toothless mouth. What were you like when you were small and tender? What are you like today?

Ariana Reines is a poet & playwright. She astrologizes at lazyeyehaver.com.

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