much & nothing, part 2...

Explaining Much, Explaining Nothing, Part 2

I do write about the self – whatever that is, and I’m not certain at all … even to the point of questioning its existence – but that writing, for me, by and large, is placed elsewhere as well. It may very well be that I can only approach myself in relation to otherness. A force, as Newton posited, will push against something, and meet with an equal force.

Let me offer this poem as a representative of that layer of my own writing. The genesis was my reflection on a then recent surgery on my wrist. The surgery was relatively minor, but when the blade enters the body, and one must be put under, minor no longer applies. An accounting will take place. There’s a dream, a winter, and the music of the great Charles Mingus – parallel lines (or worlds) that meet on the page.


               “Cumbia and Jazz Fusion,” Charles Mingus,
               Recording, NYC, 10 March 1977

Birds throat the jungle to life—
squawking green to percussion
to oboe, bassoon.
That’s how the song begins—
but what I can’t see when I listen
is Mingus’ shoulders, wood curving
from his belly, both hands
on the upright’s long neck—
and no way to know
that in his hands, in the music,
in darkness between recording

and this room, years away,
where I sit listening,
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,
an impatient ghost,
is beginning its own
flexed pleasure paradigm
in the pulled bars of the bass clef
at song’s end— in the fade.

I lift my own right hand—
so recently under the surgeon’s knife,
the wrist letting go its lump
—and trill my fingers, for circulation,
in counter to the coup d’état
of trumpet and sax whose blare
is a red sun bearing down
on the warm sea— a last border
where colors blend
to deep and perfect silence.

And then I sleep— my head filling
with thick, wet trees
and river gods and boats run aground.

In the morning— you, dearest reader,
remove the bandage, kiss my opened palm,
dress the wound

while January, fresh-pillared
in wood smoke, gives up
its first snow to our roof.

                     —originally published in Writer’s Quill


Sky said...

thank you for sharing this.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

I appreciate the read, Sky.