Kill or Cure (Penguin Poets)

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9780140587081: Kill or Cure (Penguin Poets)

“Kill Or Cure,” a bold prescriptive for these apocalyptic days, brings together substantial new work as well as the best of Anne Waldman's previously uncollected poetry. It includes credos, manifestos, dreams, homages to literary predecessors, “Shaman Hisses You Slide Back Into The Night” (the journal poem written during Bob Dylan's historic Rolling Thunder Revue), witty political diatribes, travel vignettes, incantations, and a new section of the ongoing epic poem “Iovis,” a powerful meditation on male energy.

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About the Author:

Anne Waldman is a celebrated poet, performer, professor, editor, and cultural activist. She is the author of more than forty books, including Marriage: A Sentence; Structure of the World Compared to a Bubble; Manatee/Humanity; and the feminist epic The Iovis Trilogy: Colors in the Mechanism of Concealment. A recipient of the Poetry Society of America's Shelley Memorial Award and a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, she lives in New York City and Boulder, Colorado. Her most recent volume of poetry, Gossamumur, is coming from Penguin in Spring 2013.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

BOOKS & PAMPHLETS BY ANNE WALDMAN

On the Wing

O My Life!

Giant Night

Baby Breakdown

No Hassles

West Indies Poems

Life Notes

Self-Portrait (with Joe Brainard)

Fast Speaking Woman

Memorial Day (with Ted Berrigan)

Journals & Dreams

Sun the Blonde Out

Shaman

Polar Ode (with Eileen Myles)

Countries

Cabin

First Baby Poems

Sphinxeries (with Denyse Du Roi)

Makeup on Empty Space

Invention (with drawings by Susan Hall)

Skin Meat Poems

The Romance Thing

Den Monde in Farbe Sehen

Blue Mosque

Shaman/Shamane

Tell Me About It: Poems for Painters

Helping the Dreamer: New & Selected Poems

Her Story (with lithographs by Elizabeth Murray)

Not a Male Pseudonym

Lokapala

Fait Accompli

Troubairitz

Iovis

Suffer the Mysterium

Kill or Cure

guardian & scribe

 

 

“Thee?” Oh, “Thee” is who cometh first

Out of my own soul-kin,

For I am homesick after mine own kind

And ordinary people touch me not.

—EZRA POUND

A Note

That bird—that sounded nearly human—what was it? Or who? And bend your ear, poet, to the rain forest jungle ground as well, all the rustlings, gestures, motions of life, contrasted to rough-weathered stone-hewn pyramid, elegant you could say, and noisy. Surely you hear the architecture of it, climbing to the stars? The aspiration of it? For it was important to understand the calendrical cycles, the comings and goings of Venus, yet noticing Venus was the same object, evening and morning, morning and evening. Noticing his or her (for Venus seems not male nor female in this version of influence) slaughters, discontents, eclipses, ellipses, changed & fixed mood in the ebb & flux of internal weaves, machinations, conquistador conquest, surprise. A rude awakening for those who inhabited the dream.

Could I ever “let” my blood as they purportedly did? I wonder. Literally, no. Drawn from the tongue? But you pour that blood symbolically onto the virgin page, scribed with brush or turkey feathers dipped in black or red paint contained in conch-shell inkpots. And then bind those pages with a jaguar-skin cover. La Ruta Maya.

This codex is never lazy. It wishes to be a mere script of and for a dreamer who dwelt in a prosperous/desperate turn of century, torqued by doubt, fear, imagination, passion. Let it be said she was a raging insomniac.

“Kill or cure” is a psychological nexus of negative capability, an old Tantric notion. To hold simultaneous thoughts, often seemingly contradictory thoughts, in the mind, without “any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” It is the battle cry, the underpinning of a tragic age as well as going way back to primordial cellular reaches of how things move. It is, in the whispered oral lineage, kill and cure, which seems cruel for relative quotidian action and implies power little understood by this writer. Kill ego’s greedy grasping, its whine and agression. Ego’s self-perpetuation is the sacrificial victim, the corpse you stomp upon. As it dies, you are simultaneously cured and live on, transformed, rewired. An old shamanic trick. Isn’t that enough task for one planet’s aggressive nature? You kill or cut out like the surgeon what’s unnecessary, all those toxins, cancers, dark attitudes, shed the endometrium, then heal the rest. To survive. You get the picture. But because we live in a dark age beset with dualities and because time is precious, one makes a choice. Kill or cure. Against or for. It is ethos that beckons. Stuff of poetry? Ha! You might laugh. Words may either kill or cure as well, who hasn’t felt their deadly sting or balm? As a further note and pun, the Tibetan word for mandala is kyil khor. Kyil means center, and khor means fringe or surrounding area: gestalt. It’s a way of looking at situations in terms of relative truth. If that exists, this exists; if this exists, that exists. Center and fringe are interdependent situations. Killing or curing are interdependent situations. You can’t have one without the other.

As grizzled cracked-voiced Andy Devine would say in quaint grainy celluloid Western over a tin cup of cowboy coffee laced with homemade hootch, “It’ll either kill or cure ya!”

 

Jade eyes of the jaguar

  the last thing you saw

or

wall of skulls

& which of these

out of all of these

something (one?) startled awake

Chac needs blood this century too

 

Venus conjunct

cat-like tongues & penises

spurt (“let”) onto bark

 

it is written

it is written

 

This book is a composite of journals, travel pieces, vignettes, political rants, credos, manifestos, love songs, dreams, meditations, visitations from male-writer-ghost ancestors, homages to the great women poets, and other states of mind and occasion. As such it is a body of both quotidian and imaginary realities. It is a cento of my mind and mind’s musical making. It’s also what’s on my mind. . . . A sampler. A patchwork of day and night. The book is organized through the basic instincts of tone and impulse and runs not always parallel to linear time. Rather moves randomly yet to great purpose from the Yucatán to Bali to Quebec City to Tehran to Managua to Germany to Toulouse to New York City to Oslo to Hawaii to Miami and Dallas and many spots in between, ending somewhere near May 1993 scattering my father’s ashes over a lake in southern New Jersey, USA, followed by another Maya meditation. The book spans a world of attention.

 

A.W.

August 11, 1993 / Cobá, Quintana Roo

Table of Contents

 

 

Suppose a Game

Suppose language is a game

whose rules are dreamed

by an agreement of players

 

Once broken, the speakers are tossed

& know no rude tongue but their own

no (fixed) meaning in solipsism

 

But always in a process of being stranded

are spectators of solipsism

stuck with themselves, empirical data

 

Theirs is private demon language

obstruction, ownership, demand

Is the door open?

 

Rain here yet?

Have their ideas entered all heads?

Is this the end of the game?

 

They quickly become the ex-modern

and you, poet, enter the arena

an animating principle to a touch of words

 

Seduce them to your page

caress plosiveness

beat them a fine shapelessness

 

Or sentences are for the first time stark & clear

not untrue to what flaunts style:

webs of cloth, a mirror you hold

 

The players conjure nihilism, their only way

to be curious, vain, a waste of strength

as confusion weakens the vocal art

 

Cybernetics is the exchange of their news for yours

Yours is: However abundant the nectar,

the bees stop dancing as the sugar drops

 

They tell you nothing, their lips are sealed, you keep dancing

Was the agreement that words shine like sun,

or glint as weapons in moonlight?

A Name as Revery

Ate the bare limbs of words

to find my name:

 

of fevers, of trees it’s made

 

Choice out of jugular to be born

Centuries of solar flowers gone by

Belle, where ya born? Moi? Moi?

 

Verdict: tens attend to

doubt all doubt as

La Self errs in revenge

 

Then ravages in a kind of honor umbrage

 

Although American

to a haute parentage we swing

John of the Hands & Waldemann’s was my father

LeFevre, my mother, exposed in sandals & silk

Her Night

Out of an eye comes research

Her night: portrait & a description

A night of knowledge was plainly hers

Two ways of writing explain this

There was her night

And then there was her night, a repetition

A night in a quarry in Helena, Montana, was not anticipated

Or at dusk before the night had started:

   The Lavender Open Pit Copper Mine near Bisbee

Everywhere she claims it as hers: purple, dark, starry

Buffalo: spring snow

Amherst: Emily Dickinson’s night, what was that?

Night is anyone’s guess

Naming the stars & planets: Saturn still extant after all this time

So I went on with an idea of the night

Djuna’s night

All-American nights

Recesses one has one’s program for

She dreamed her clothes were like Spanish ice cream

She dreamed a moth arrived to convey a scarlet secret

It was a female moth

The mosquitoes protested they were female too

She had the desire to include a shawl & Kleenex

She walked where there had never been a mountain

   Can you be sure?

   Can you be that sure?

She would think about walking to Sanitas Mountain at night

If any thought about night or place with night inside it is left out

   she’s sorry

For she can’t even begin to remember the rooms:

   El Rito, Bellevue, La Quinta, the old man’s stuffy sitting room

She was lost in the abstraction of the girl’s perfume

Nights in front of a shrine prostrating to her potentially

   luminous mind

Sleeping late

Literature is being written at night

The couchette rattles into Trieste

A plane jets across the continent

Now I am above the clouds & the moon is up with me

Seeing what someone else means by night is another option

There was her night, and then there was her night, a repetition

She picked up the telephone while, she, the other,

   walked toward a mountain

There was her night and then there was her night—the other’s—a

     repetition

She suspends all preconceptions and forgets the concept “moon”

It could be frightening if you were a prisoner

Or, a relief

Her night is of no importance really

But there has never been another one like it

Moonlight: hear the amorous cats

Moonlight: the South American map lies on the hammock

   exposed to the elements

She did not “drop by” at 1 a.m. as supposed

But made another night call

A bird called

Confused by jet lag, time went out of her control

She shrugged & went to a party

Her escort parked the car near Coit Tower

In between lovers

Between textures: silk, velvet, cool cotton

Throw back the bedspread!

Out of the eye comes the moon

Out of the eye: seduction

What does it really matter what anyone does

There was her night

And then there was her night, a repetition

Minnesota is just like that

She wouldn’t give out her address in Oregon

Her coat was made for a night like this

Her night: where was it leading?

None knew

Display her zeal hour by hour

Opium would change this dream

Her nervousness was a blind

Talk about something like: “We in this period

   have not lived in remembering” or

“My excitement is my open eyes”

Her clothing is of a daily-island-life variety

A line distinguishes it

She almost traveled to Tent City out of love & honor

Everything will have to be repeated in the morning

Listen: hum of typewriter, Jacqueline’s loud refrigerator & clock

Listen: a long line of thoughts bargaining to enter in

One thought: the time is 3:15 a.m.

Another thought: there is only one way to phone her

And another: night is long to her & short to us

Not at all

She is ahead of herself but behind every action

Concentration was like having the night inside her all the time she said

She said she’d go to any length to stay awake, imbibing controlled

   substances as well as caffeine

She said this because she was excited about making double time

It was her night and then it was her night a repetition

This is an ordinary great deal to know

Of Ah Or

I cannot be but

fierce

My tongue—is it so?

& liaison of that tight

pact of

this to that

A bargain

rises

swells

reigns

sends darts North

when it is you,

iced over,

I thrust

in my heart

to consider

All the vowels

sing how to

melt that glare

or

stare into

doubt like

words in a

bubble

Can’t back out

now

but sing to you

a fire across

our divide,

my tongue is forked!

Flesh language!

We fall into

pieces of

the painting

to be

put

in motion

Splash or Freeze

of Ah or

Whelp

Tell to

old Greeks

who knew

to stress

(pounce)

stretch out

as you your limbs

the statues tell us

Move it! Move it!

& the Ode

got danced

Tell it to poet

whatshername

Heliodora?

who sang

& shook her ankles,

swallowed honey

to make

a sweeter sound or

Ah, Macabru

I tune your lyre

Stomp on the page!

 

Speech you are golden

Speech you crack ope my skull

Speech you lieth not down a while

but even as I dream

you rouse me

Rock bed!

Break into babe increments

prick ear awake

Spit juice in my face

Fricative magic excites

every corpuscle

Implode & regroup

Assail me with

all yr plans

to consider

the length & shadow

of vowels

 

American wags listen

The West is underdeveloped

I want to ride you out here

under Big Sky

Rail ’gainst acid rain,

cruelty, weird belief systems

Insult those who do you

no good in their squawk & bite

 

Who serve you poorly in

their bid for glory

condemned

’fore they

even sputter forth

 

What goddess will abide a dull,

ignorant tongue?

 

I speak it

 

You play me

that forms it

Quote Captive

New sleep uptorn,

Wakeful suspension between dr...

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