Friday, November 27, 2009

Mortified before kari's BHARAT JIVA 

I've been secretly depressed lately, mostly about the queer community and how it has SAVAGED any sense of what we were once capable of doing together. ARE STILL capable of doing, but refusing to do. It's impossible to not think of kari edwards when thinking about the rash of transwomen being murdered in Philadelphia, so many in fact that just last week there were panel discussion groups and even a mass memorial service for the slain. No other group of people, ESPECIALLY African American transwomen have such a high rate of murder and suicide. And we LITERALLY SQUANDER tens of thousands of dollars on stupid fucking Pride Parades and Pride Block Parties and other Pride SHIT when we cannot OR I SHOULD SAY WILL NOT use some of that money to keep a Trans Health Office open in Philadelphia.

And Frank Sherlock was just telling me that Bea Arthur, the famous actress who died recently had left an enormous amount of money to the Queer Teen Homeless Shelter in NYC. Frank said that they were on the verge of shutting down when this money came through, which is amazing considering how many fucking millionaire faggots there are in NYC with their stupid condo party circuit. I just really HATE how we no longer wish to come together like we did in the past to NOT ONLY fight for Queer rights but align our struggle with the anti war movement, the labor movement. No, none of that anymore, it's ALL ABOUT gay marriage, and THE FUCKING GAYS IN THE MILITARY! I just, I just, I just cannot believe it some mornings that THIS is the revolution I was so excited about at one time.

The other thing I CANNOT come to terms with is how the American queer community REFUSES to acknowledge the genocide of gay men in Iraq PRESENTLY going on as being a DIRECT RESULT of our heinous national crime of invasion and occupation. Even the people from the Holocaust Museum who came to Philadelphia recently said to me, and this is an actual quote, "We're very proud of the fact that we are bipartisan, and do not take sides in political debates." Yeah, seriously, I was told that. As though the Holocaust was bipartisan. But I guess if you can't even get the Holocaust Museum on your side about genocide of gay men in Iraq, and how it IS OUR FAULT as citizens of the USA, well, who else can you expect to get behind you to DO SOMETHING!?

Then I reread BHARAT JIVA by kari edwards, and I FINALLY GOT what Thom Donovan said to me at the book event in NYC when he said he was happy to see in her last book that she found some peace with her anger. I just wasn't ready to hear that at all NOT AT ALL! I liked my kari angry! And I admit the first time I read BHARAT JIVA as a PDF she sent me not long before she died didn't feel the way it does to me now. Then I was reading it on the heels of her extraordinary book OBEDIENCE and on the heels of seeing her read in person and speaking with her QUITE ANGRILY about the murder of transpeople going on at the time.

As much as I don't want to admit it, Thom is right. I think I even said to him at the event in New York that I didn't agree with him, yeah I'm pretty sure I said something about BHARAT JIVA being angry "the right way" or some such thing I like to say, and lose track of what I even mean when I say it. But I still feel kari has good anger in this book, but I also NOW understand what Thom Donovan means. This is one of the most important books for me right now. I find myself rereading passages like songs I NEED to listen to over and over for the messages to be integrated into my life. For instance:

I can not begin to know

producing difference by deferring

second third person narrative

promising surrender to the dead

acknowledging, I am an unknown participant

something maybe, something blind

consuming scarcity

producing hunger

constructing gender

breathing markers

making someone a thing

scapegoat instance

another perfect occasion

construct of a common sense sentence

out of many different bank accounts

apparently to produce

a final outcome

illumination legible

newspaper flyspeck

on the edge of an abstract noun

sliding affirmation

speaking of poverty

in an industrial world

where the lakes, rivers and oceans

are no longer lakes, rivers and oceans

but mud covered hunger living in bodies

What is humiliation without shame? I went there. Was MORTIFIED through epiphany, a sister system of inexplicable waking, torn by self-inflicted stress against my own nature immediately upon blinking back from being inside the reading of kari's work. And of course I'm wishing I had spent time talking with kari about this book THE RIGHT WAY meaning the clearest way. There's a part of me that once was feeling we humans are no more than part of a weird play of planetary mischief, and that it didn't matter really what we did because we are mere molecules which are consumed and retrieved in the great scheme of the devoured Earth cycle. But that's more nihilistic a view than I realized at the time. Everything matters, and not in that neurotic guilty way we're taught by our various monotheistic dictates, but as a way to be conscious of our harm and of our love.

There's no way I am going to write about BHARAT JIVA except to say that it does, and how it does stammer change in me as a poet who wants to actualize the human being in me. I DON'T WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE is something I shouted in a dream recently. And it was a night after performing a reading of the (Soma)tic Exercise and poem that I did for kari at the invitation of Belladonna and Litmus for NO GENDER. How many times do we have to say the magic words before we stop living through danger? I have no clue. And I'm not sure kari knew either, but her pointing toward the possibilities of GETTING IT in BHARAT JIVA is mystic, and I want to reclaim the word MYSTIC for a second, for kari, with a CLARITY in all its severe colors:

if the body dissolves

to a spotless sphere

if all I can do is

a series of incidents

lost in mathematics

withdrawn to obtain a body

that remains a desolate vagrant

if longing for a name,

shelters an ocean

a hundred and forty suns

set a blaze

dissolvable and indivisible

if out of the unreal comes

divisional smooth traveling

bound motionless totality

far below the senses

far below the knees

waging mimic dazzle

flash statements made

if nothing and nothing


did I not say to you

did I not say

they will implant ugly qualities

did I not say

saying something

eager to die into the deathless

did I not say

have you heard

the silent steps

innermost names weeping

did I not say

in the pangs of separation

world-filling light

running through our veins


I must leave

the earth in a mind without fear

did I not say

raised an acrobat

on the clumsy ground

in the dirt

on an organ

while the puppets

danced above

did I not say

like a wedge

in a block

yea, a thing

did I not say

life can get tired of living

living another insisting babylon

did I not say

despite the body

there is a universe

despite the universe

born waves of existence

did I not say

saying I must go

did I not say

death does not annihilate particles

it only breaks up conjunctions

did I not say

gone ready to depart

distortion grammar

here talking of changing

only to history

Yes, MYSTIC! This book of poems will exceed the excesses of the roses, as Roethke would agree through his North American Sequence. Suffer for it, as Roethke did suffer for it. Roethke as transwoman TRANSDADA poet with an arm in the continent of India to measure the world against itself. And I remember kari saying to a table of us (that table of us including myself, Frank Sherlock, Mary Kalyna, and Brenda Iijima) a month before she died, that she "went to India only to find that people are the same all over the world." It really is OUR story soon enough, everyone we meet, making exegesis of a poem irrelevant.

It's impossible to talk about this book without mentioning too the beauty of it. As a thing. We need to give respect to this book being made into a beautiful thing. Reading a PDF of this book is not the same. Reading a few excerpts in this bit of writing I'm doing on your computer screen is not the same. The good and extraordinary care of the publishers at Belladonna and Litmus Presses must be underscored a dozen times! The size of the pages, the choice of fonts, this work has been most lovingly cared for for kari's legacy, and for our absorption of kari's legacy as a Seer and poet. Mystic.

Then there's the cover. I found myself, and I'm sure you will find yourself, staring deeply into the cover from time to time while reading. Fran Blau, kari's partner created it. A beautiful painting of a shadow of a Buddha on a shop window selling horror movies in India. Well, and other things. Garlands, poster calendars of gods and goddesses, maybe Lakshmi at one point? It is one of the most striking paintings, making one of the most incredible bookcovers I've ever seen. And if this bit of writing for the love I have for this book has not convinced you to buy it, then call me at 215.563.3075 and I'll read you a little more. Until you buy it. If we must consume in this capitalist SHITHOLE world, let it be for something as beautiful as kari's book.

Thank you kari for changing some molecules of ink and paper into a sharper lens, we owe you BIG TIME in the next life!

With love and respect,

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