Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Tuesday poem #222 : 신선영 Sun Yung Shin : THE WOLVEISH FORAGE

each day is a gorgeous wet machine - - -  the rain-slicked bridge under the night bridge - - -  let us walk together along its swaying twisted cables and let the rivets fall from our necks as we shed sky and pelt and heat and sleep

I’ve written your undertow into my will - - -  I have signed it with a fistful of bloody salt - - -  this wound my last resort - - -  all the music in the dark brine of my heart - - -  its secret pangs like a muffled church bell - - -  my eyes these hard gates and every kind of armor

you knew we were warmongers and cannibals - - -  you made me into a wolf whereas before I ate everything bleating and shivering - - -  whereas before I lay myself down in a lonely grave with my outcast fellows - - -  only now to confiscate the law of lucid dreaming upon this small invisible fire


you signed this contract of wheat paste and unconditional city rain - - -  you summoned the wailing wall - - -  you made a socket out of our last night - - -  into the diurnal wilderness we turned into swallows and sewed yesterday into our open mouths - - -  open to eat wind - - -  open to make dark rooms for ghosts - - -  for the pack of wolves inside the teeth

rough blood - - -  lurid orbit inside the subtle body - - -  the vindication of God - - -  the deposition of Lucifer - - -  all the rivers of mercy flooding the rings of Saturn inside your morning - - -  tint of gloat - - -  the void my guide - - -  the son of the god his heart on a stake - - -  a jar of water drained like this eulogy - - -  some indelible outline branded on the skin of the earth - - -  the earth in flight - - -  the earth in pursuit of this heavy light

in this wolveish congress with the letters of the dead - - -  my appetite for graffiti - - -  genuflection to the twenty-six occult symbols made of leopards and glass and fury and orphic keening and wax-wing flight - - -  each day is a prince on his lesser throne with his lesser hate - - -  his strange brother left in the forest - - -  left to make a machine out of the indifference of owls - - -  what to spell with their pellets of the delicate broken bones of mouse and vole - - -  every night is a widow


what the outside woman craves is strange testimony of the despot - - -  the law and the police report in illegible half-tongues - - -  if you could swallow scissors and thread and birth something durable - - -  your own face and body but burning on the outside instead of the inside - - -  the despot is the gloat of caw and mercury and an army of centaurs en route to the farthest necropolis - - -  their bloody hooves the calligraphy of man - - -  uncanny man in medias res - - -  dragging the penal colony behind them as if shadows were machines and crimes

the pack of wolves inside me spent a year in silence studying the corpses of flight of the architecture of wind - - -  the ships breech birthed on surprised shores - - -  coasts with chronic insomnia - - -  facing always the wet suffocation of the great black fish with no face - - -  the great creature a mass grave - - -  the shapeless tunnel to swallow light and gravity - - -  the pack of wolves gnawing on a manuscript of organs - - -  each with a hood - - -  each harboring its own verses on the body

summon the heart’s four-chambered congregation - - -  we will chase our wolves through the starving blue to the piquant red - - -  what kind of recovery does the tongue make in its dark narrow room in the back of the throat - - -  all the strange velvet inside me - - -  rooms and rooms of it - - -  a suite of crimes and siblings - - -  sharing duration - - -  sharing a soldier’s reprieve - - -  my body a kind of necropolitan cradle - - -  a museum blazing on the inside like the world’s last night circus


if I vanish after a certain conjuring - - -  follow the spelling - - -  follow the leopards with human hearts in their mouths - - -  follow the scent of singed fur as walking through flames is often required to renew the hollows of the world

lucid dreaming a kind of air balloon travel - - -  oneironauts floating through ships built hastily in the space between wake and sleep - - -  assembled and disassembled by morning - - -  the wood shavings and surplus boards and uncanny convex portholes left hastily under your narrow bed - - -  they keep falling through the floor

the perimeter of the bed guarded by my soldiers - - -  the black laces of their black boots caught in my hair - - -  binding my hands


when I gave the wolves my opera glasses - - -  binoculars - - -  magnifying glass - - -  telescope - - -  pinhole camera - - -  and a set of sharpened knives they set fires all along the tree line - - -  they set to polishing the world’s remaining lonely library carrels - - -  eating the empty space along the way

the poetics of wolveish space and the displacement of air with the hot breath of the future - - -  I fell asleep in their den which filled with night-serum and the medicine became my lungs as I wandered through the rough carbon sleep of abandoned coal mines and saw my spirit panning for gold in the streams and creeks of the dead

I saw us there - - -  lingering over the remains of a spectacular - - -  glittering feast 


perhaps born in a crime scene - - -  perhaps drawn from my mother as though an exorcism of pins and needles - - -  perhaps a child is a prosthesis and a pantomime - - -  perhaps a child is a cauterization of an oblivion

no matter because I am a maker of tourniquets and a hawker of all the holy orders of the world

God has chosen me - - -  lowering all things to me on a rope - - -  busy reading the syllabus of the body I leave the knitting of my white cloths and send the wolves inside me to the grotto with that vintage water from snow melt - - -  that water that tastes of the birth of planets - - -  of the iron moon and its magnetic dreams writing roses all over the night-skin we wear like a priest disgraced in his winter hunger

perhaps my private hospital business will expand into purgatorial burial ritual and the eros of prayer - - -  they will come from far and wide not to be stitched back together like dolls but to pay homage to me as to a fine landlord - - -  a man who hoards the calamitous light under his robes - - -  a scholar of usury - - -  perhaps I was born to be a minister of handbills and rainwater


a human-headed bird made its arrival night after night - - -  in my dreams I fell down upon things which are hidden during the day - - -  which advance upon me at night which draw my lightless body downward toward their receding forms - - -  which remind me that I have submerged the boat of my enemies and brought myself to silence

I surrendered my mask and maps and deck of cards to god who made me his property without quarantine or inventory - - -  a plate of ozone slipped under the cell door - - -  the key made of mushrooms and eaten every morning - - -  a shadow made of soot - - -  he brings me a kind of a spike to bleed the humors that turn to dust when they meet the air - - -  he promises new veins - - -  he promises gifts like morphine and exams I’ve already taken  

in this city of God - - -  all the stones rose surprised before me as a flock of birds disturbed from their morning feeding - - -  the stigma of childhood marking my palms and feet - - -  orphaned by pain - - -  I felt nothing though I attempted repair of the body’s summers through a kind of Christmas pageant - - -  then a swimming through the dream of olive groves - - -  then the quilting of buried music into twelve gowns - - -  then the eating of worms - - -  then the gathering of incomplete births - - -  and a series of flashbacks immaculate as the white room of the ivory mathematics of Mary - - -  we fell upon the placenta still pulsing like a heart and gorged on it like a pack of wolves 


we shall be purified - - -  we were promised - - -  we were soaked in rum and honey - - -  drunk as choirboys - - -  the many anonymous eyes all over their unnameable bodies and their backs made blank for punishment

one day I was offered an advance cremation - - -  why wait I thought - - -  let the gross body fall away - - -  let me save the organs for later - - -  let me fill these jars I have inherited from my mother’s mother - - -  let me empty them in that field down there - - -  let me visit the slums of the world looking for the king’s trident

let me bury my brothers who come endlessly from over that hill - - -  who come like a line of ants - - -  like a swarm of bees - - -  like a ring of fire


from the eastern gate to the western gate - - -  I 

made a womb out a sparrow’s nest
assembled every meal out of moss and the scorned end of each hour
used my palm as a cutting board
wrote a child out of forbidden grammar - - -  a grimoire
a child of pure glamour - - -  a child not to be looked at directly
a child to walk ahead and not look back

orphaned myself every morning and every night
let the wolves out of my mouth at noon and swallowed them for dinner
never fell into despair or aporia
reused every letter as a frugal woman was taught to do
dactylic hexametered several martial epics while my husbands were away at the wars

engraved a secret dossier on God and buried it under the floorboards like a heart
finished him a suit of armor knit from stinging nettles
abandoned all ghosts who entered me with good intentions

신선영 Sun Yung Shin is the author, editor, or co-editor of six books and one chapbook: Unbearable Splendor (poetry/essay); Rough, and Savage (poetry); Skirt Full of Black (poetry); A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota (essays); Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption (essays); 쿠퍼의 롐슨 Cooper’s Lesson (bilingual book for children); and My Singularity (poetry). She is a contributing editor at Aster(ix) and Society Editions, and lives in Minneapolis.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

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