Beyond Words

In Words Fail: Theology, Poetry, and the Challenge of Representation, Colby Dickinson argues that language allows us to speak about a thing, but language never leads us to “the ‘thing itself’—the as such-ness of a thing beyond its linguistically codified and intelligible form” (43). We are left with imperfect representations of things that fail us.

Earlier in his book Dickinson asks this profound question: “How indeed, we might add, would one begin to live as if they knew an intimacy forever beyond our ability to represent it (as in cases involving death) and yet find themselves living in a flesh, with its age and its sorrow, that is, at times, simply all too present?” (25).

Would I live my life differently if I knew for certain that a Great Beyond exists beyond words, beyond my life? Could I ever visit, ahead of time, an afterlife awaiting me before I die?

The ultimate illusion, a depth-defying feat: to take a leave of presence, disappear to a traceless place beyond representation, then re-present myself as myself right before my varied eyes.

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Today In Eden

Today
In Eden
Adam’s
Tall dark
And handsy

Today
In Eden
Eve’s
A sucker
For tongue

Today
In Eden
Adam
Bedazzles
Fig leaves

Today
In Eden
Eve’s
Plus-size
And hung

Today
In Eden
Adam
Models
Mom jeans

Today
In Eden
Eve
Squeezes
Man buns

Numb Poetry

As a kid I wondered what would be here if the world were not here—if God, in the Beginning, had nothing to live for.

Traumatized in high school, I wrote numb poetry, without irony, already finding ways to reverse my birth through verse.

I was a missing person in my own backyard. An absent student with perfect attendance. No one, except God perhaps, noticed I wasn’t (all) there.

Poet’s Market

Against the (cash) flow of the free market, poetry is useless.

Poets practice idle worship.

A poem traffics in elicit non-sense, in that it asks for no response, checks for no pulse.

You can put a price on a poem, but it will never sell (out).

Burn After Reading

Ingeborg Bachmann: “I am writing with my burnt hand about the nature of fire.”

Some questions. Some thoughts.

Where is this fire? Perhaps you’re full of passion, to the point of pain. Should it read instead: “I am writing with my burnt hand about the nature of fire within me”?

About the nature of fire.” Are you holding your hand to the fire? Is it hovering above the flames? Why don’t you remove it?

It sounds like you’re using your hand to write. Another way of seeing things: Is your hand writing all by itself? Are you writing alongside it? Is your body, minus your burnt hand, writing its own material?

Are you using your write hand?

Words can contain fire—a fiery speech, inflammatory language—but words can’t contain a fire, can’t command a fire to stop burning. If we’re angry when we write, are we playing with ire?

When you wrote or spoke this line, were you aware, Ingeborg Bachmann, that a fire in your bedroom would contribute to your death in 1973 at the age of 47? Did you enjoy your last cigarette?

Poetry Takes Ears To Perfect And Guts To Perform

After the Master of Fine Arts
Calls your pen name to the spoken word stage
Ask everyone how it’s hanging
Even the eunuchs

Say you want to tell Walt Whitman
It gets better

Wait for a pause

Gregorian chant like a Benedictine punk
The worst line of the best poem
You’ve never written

Make nothing
Rhyme with orange

Share your truth
Without gazing too long
At your navel

Halfway through a moment of silence
Shout into the mega microphone
At the flop of your tongue—

Poetry takes ears to perfect
And guts to perform