Note: In the original version at Black Radish Blog, published in 2010, the review incorrectly states that “Nostalgic” was an article.
I am not a model reader. My name is flowers, and these flowers’ eyes anticipate something like living, like water and dirt and carving a face into bone and page; touch the mermaid made of dried fish, you sorcerer of the ambivalent, you; you called her Jenny before she swam into someone else’s waters. Did I tell you that I have a brand-new swimming pool?
But Deleuze says all the models went away anyway.
When the angels came, I remembered the hazel-brown eyes of my first love in high-school summers.
Worthy competitor of Scrabble and trivia.
Yesterday was Halloween. I closed the book after two weeks of reading and writing marginal commentary that may or may not have been directly related to the poems. I drew a picture of a man in a hot-air balloon with shadow looming long in clouds. I longed for the Chuck Taylors my mother threw away long ago. Word, word, word, says the scribe, but I know better than that. I know the lyrical incantations that lead to prayer and curse, spellings of hope in the power of the Word: I’m told it can raise the dead. Non Omnis Moriar: not everything dies—dear zombie golem, your robotic body is indeed a ghostly home.
I once read an article by D.L. Alvarez called “Nostalgic” where the author writes of a story he wrote about a woman whose brother died in a car crash, and she could still hear his screams years later. It was not a neurological condition. Tiny ear bones vibrated as they would for all other sound waves, a soft rippling of the horrific. The story is fiction, but until I looked it up recently, I remembered it otherwise. My memory says the story is real and you are right—the ghosts murmur, or sometimes they cry, into those giant spaces that are you or me, firings of circuitous wiring, the switch flipped by the invisible or the imagined, but, most importantly, just as goddamn real as all else.
What is the total of our resistance? Add the reciprocals of all points of tension. Divide one by this number.
Does the abacus compute?
Today is All Saint’s Day—listen carefully and feel for the ache of your ear drum to a song that someone once knew. Don’t bother trying to name that tune. You probably never heard it before, or maybe you, of all people, have or came across it in this mapping out of words and toys, baubles, gnomes, phenomena and lore, but it doesn’t matter because any hymn or pop song, any chorus for another round of booze will do.
The cartographer is 63 dead men who know something about space and direction. The astrolabe is not enough. I will read this book again.
I am looking at fish captive in Chicago—the sea dragons glimmer like jewels, and I point to the pregnant belly of the male. Beside me, Poseidon, that motherfucker of all buccaneers, holds court on a forearm. The spectre is a spectrum of space between, the liminal, the parlor to the mythic, or just the life of the automaton who thinks he is a real boy. It is the realm of the carnivalesque long after the Tilt-a-Whirl has closed down. I trace trident with lip and lashes, cover chest with palm and hair. I wonder when he will change the tide.
On the All Soul’s Day that is everyday as the haunted remember rippled visages, uncork the Madeira and it drinks as new. On this day, I will step into the River Acheron, or any other river of the dead. An Irishman will read my tea leaves, and the trinkets and detritus of the universe will float by. A vested figure will stand somewhere on the shore and observe and point and name. Will it add up to anything more than the totem piling of sounds and images? The words don’t matter, he will say. The river doesn’t matter, he will say, but the nixie will still know the way to the water gods. The details don’t matter, he will say, yet, still, he will stand. Still, he will point. Still, he will name. Still. Jenny Haniver; Spectre of the Brocken; the Windmills of Mallorca; honey mushroom / tree killer, Armillaria Ostoyae. Name the place; name the moment; articulate as much as possible—in other words, map the space and x your spot. I am here.
The current is quick and I will I will not drown. Water will pour into our lungs, but still we live, until we are gone, and there is nothing to name our dying once done.