Tag Archives: Existentialism

natural method

natural method

 

resolve, to capture

the renegade story,

the “r” that drops without effort;

hum an imprecise self,

hover above a wood floor as a

ghost—between adobe, a window, and a phrase

invented to keep away

from raging impermanence,

undertow of the closest light source

to bang our bodies against

 

 

 

 

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unmastered

unmastered

 

 

to start, to walk

 

 

at the cusp

 

where is she founded?

 

awareness—

 

 

flesh around the bones

belongs to her

 

 

better her than the wind

 

***

 

this segment of the woods—

does not disperse

with the breath

 

sensitive to thought

noise and the wide open aperture

at noon

 

 

(an imperceptible hinge–starts

 

the continuous now

 

 

 

***

 

 

proliferate

small beings

flit

from an echo

 

peripheral

relations—

 

we read them in their bones

 

 

***

 

 

water

collects around an edge—

through—

beyond—

woven-in—

 

all, all the sky

the brush

the ribs

birds

breath

all, woven-in

 

 

***

 

 

one step

 

one step

 

 

in the sand

repetition

 

 

silence

 

 

***

 

there are no masters

no tether

no never

no lonely stone

 

***

 

 

when at the end,

 

 

keep walking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

three o clock

three o’ clock

 

 

a clean root system

for ease of transport

 

conversation

 

only short range

 

 

a longing–

for nectar of one

thousand years’ sleep

and dream

 

*

 

I walk from here

to the edge of indifference,

all the talk—diverged

to an abstract

 

to the sound—is–

the sound of small creatures

within the thicket

 

or–

 

harmonic

flexing of the wind

 

*

 

collided—

thought pulls at underlying meaning

 

 

now stacked and labelled

 

*

 

pre-reflective traveler

in the onset of winter afternoon

stands at a gradient

 

 

as the gender assigned to an hour

 

 

now in between where identity,

irrelevant

 

decisions draw on for hours

 

*

 

the fabric

beneath

the fabric

 

 

stone

within the stone

 

 

is where

 

 

to move

solve for x

solve for x

 

in the aftereffect,

too much noise—

the trucks came and emptied

all our variables

 

since, reassigned

 

a lack of concurrency

is now the main line

 

*

 

it’s the bystanders

with questions to answer,

lacking warrant to enter the site

 

you decided not to—

frequency of story—

line broken by intermittent

interjection

 

but it was a decision?

among all possible decisions

the sky seemed bigger than it is,

at least as conjured

 

pull it down tight,

to limit the options

 

*

 

as drawn from a photograph,

lines lock depth

 

to know tricks

at the lock, to know

atmosphere, to know

by hand the image

rejected by the object

 

a confession, ok,

continues, regardless

 

for someone else to unravel—it’s not

the size, it’s the overwhelming

number

are we inside

the number?

 

please speak your name

 

the pause

is that which–

we are inside

the number

Cesar Vallejo’s Trilce

Truly original poetry written in 1929, considered by those who know and love this work as a cornerstone for experimental or “avant-garde” poetry in the modern literary tradition.

You can find information about Cesar Vallejo online, or in the prefaces to the reprinted books of poetry. In this post I will proceed, as philosopher of poetic imagination, Gaston Bachelard says: “without worrying about the poet’s ‘complexes’, without rummaging about in the history of his life” thus, free to explore the original power of his images, to search for the poetic imagination in the poems themselves which, ultimately, are more than enough.

The poems in Vallejo’s Trilce have been described as the great avant-garde poetry of the Latin American world, but I claim him as a great and truly original poet, period. The only kin to the power and originality of this work, in my opinion, is Paul Celan’s challenging and deeply moving Breathturn (Atemwende, 1967) for its emotional power and inventive expression.

I believe that each poet wrote these works not to write experimental work, but to express the depths of an existentially anguished soul using words which are, by nature, limiting and meager, as the poet faces his soul and attempts to transcribe what he hears and sees there. Though Vallejo employs elements of daily life in his poems, he is poet of Humanity, searching, longing, striving, and at times, tongue-tied with the bubbling out of the vastness of existence through his pen.

From Trilce (1929)

IX

I sdrive to dddeflect at a blow the blow.
Her two broad leaves, her valve
opening in succulent reception
from multiplicand to multiplier,
her condition excellent for pleasure,
all readies truth

I strive to ddeflect at a blow the blow.
To her flattery, I transasfixiate Bolivarian
Asperities
at thirty-two cables and their multiples,
hair for hair majestic thick lips,
the two tomes of the Work, constringe,
and I do not live absence then,
not even by touch.

I fail to teflect at a blow the blow.
We will never saddle the torose Trool
of egotism or of that mortal chafe
of the bedsheet,

since this here woman
—how she weighs being general!

And female is the soul of the absent-she.
And female is my own soul.

And:

XII

I escape with a feint, fluf by fluf.
A projectile I know not where it will fall.
Incertitude. Tramontation. Cervical articulation.

Zap of a horsefly that dies
in midair and drops to earth.
What would Newton say now?
But, naturally, you’re all sons.

Incertitude. Heels that don’t spin.
The page knotted, factures
five thorns on one side
and five on the other: Ssh! Here it comes.

Vallejo, César. The Complete Poetry: A Bilingual Edition (pp. 181-182, 189-190). University of California Press. Kindle Edition.

Vallejo’s work, and Trilce emphatically, pulses and surges with neologisms, numbers, abstract and sudden links between the poet’s experiences and imaginations. It would be tempting to read either of these passages with a lens that searches for meaning in male/female psychology, however this would lead us on a fruitless surface interpretation. Besides, what joy could it possibly bring us to analyze the poet’s psychology? Let’s read his words.

In “IX”, we experience humanity in the poetic persona’s stuttering. We experience awe-struck sensuality in a world that centers on deeply-felt experience with a woman. We feel complete immersion and release into what I can only describe as the mysterious dark matter that holds existence together. The reader continually feels tension between what the poet wants to express about his felt experiences, and the limitations of language as we know it, a tension that results in imbalance, where invented words and stutters break through the cracks.

I feel childlike joy in Vallejo’s invented words in “XII”, yet tension in what seems to be anticipatory avoidance of something coming, something beyond his control. His playful allusion to Newton, the spontaneous and urgent hushing at the end of the poem, the knotted page and balance of five thorns with five thorns; I interpret this poem as a poet, attempting to write, the “incertitude” of channeling the poetic imagination on command, and the crushing awe the poet feels once the poetic imagination is channeled.

I am moved by his poems, especially the poems in Trilce, which unfolds as an energetic and at times tortured struggle between personal  or familial experience and worldly conventions, the unattainable “ideal”, between neverending questions.

I encourage you to read the poems in Spanish; Clayton Eshleman, translator, is loyal to Vallejo’s artistic vision, but you can only truly benefit from the profundity of this work by reading the original in Spanish side by side with the translation.

This lengthy post is a meager effort to pay homage to a great poet, a deep and brilliant human being whom I very humbly acknowledge as a mentor for my own work.