All Hallows’ Eve

 

The dark half of the year begins.

Demeter is most distracted. Persephone must be found by us, lest our cycle halt, so we hold out payment to her spirit-children. Here is my sweet fruit, take and eat.

In spring, Time, per Sacred Law, you may have my body along with the corn king’s and spring queen’s. Tonight, it is merely a carnival of the cycle of life and death, the skull is a lit lamp, and we open the thin shade of our skin over this burning life.

The world turns its other face and its legion merry host don new garb to show they are someone else, somewhere else, for this vigil night. They would have been anyone else and nothing else, and for one tentative evening they show it, panting.

 

 

Animus

Unknown,

I have loved you in each leaf of spring, each death of winter, till the turning seasons rose like dust beneath our bodies.

I still walk in the sun gazing at shadow, and there is no one behind me to bind my arm, to say, ‘Wait.’ I have looked for you in every face, mistook the face for you. Whoever you are, these dreams have loved you well.

I, too, have loved before. This world, its creatures and their fantasies, their swirling cosmos of act-word-intention, those brittle wishes, all the dreams lost to others — all that I have spun from my self, my translucent untied life.  In my waking dreams I see their luminous marks. Murals that become graffiti, buffed nails, the prison walls chalked and hatched, stone upon kalend stone.

But this remainder I will lodge in my self, will shelter there as long as you wish it. I made you with everything I am not, an entire fall of water and desire, the sure direction of a riverine prayer.

I shall deny this.

And if there is no eternity, nor any other birth to tumble into, I shall still miss you.

I knew you by the shape of all absence. And savored

your scent like the sea-salt.

Life is still unperturbed by these folded knees.

The sea (or you) struck my tears, but slipped my hold thereafter. This took me for everything,

but the balance is still unmoved.

If there is only eternity, I will call you Krishna, and honor the illusion between the stars.

 

So much for shadow work

Did you find it, what you were looking for, all the time you were using the perimeter of the ring, the stage, the self, the world?

What did you see after you threw yourself against the ropes, launched yourself from them? Did you find anything? Did they crawl over your wrists, the ropes, tie you in knots when your knees bent climbing them? Did you meet that other body you raged against? Were you subdued before you hung from those arms?

Did your senses return you to yourself? Did you ever reach the limits of that body?

You never forgot yourself, did you? And you wanted to, but not when the forgotten piece would become another fragment of yourself, bartered, fingered, passed from craving, crazed buyer to buyer. Teller of tales, you become coin in their tellers’ hands. (That would be cinema in this late decade.) You are still looking for something more.

Your face when you are not guarding it.

Altar-building

Mother, I will build for you a ceremony of words.

Intonations, as I gather the brick-dust fallen from the heads of those burnt men and women filing tearless in the heat. They were building the bricks some of us will use to build our ‘havans.’ And I will chant under my breath as I run to gather the threads fallen loose from the dyed fabrics and the dyed hands of those who make our celebratory garments. I will, Mother, pant alongside the cattle being driven to market, waiting for the celebratory feast. I will walk with the farmer who dons his drums and feathers and travels to the city to make coins for his fickle harvest. I will heave and shout with the dark energetic boys on lorries who run the neighborhood shows, a few days to focalize youthful energy and rage. I will watch the crowds and the carnival, their emotions and their doubts sharpened by display. I will watch those who religiously abstain from such topsy turvy opiate festivals.

And I will etch with a little stick the altar I want to make for ‘you,’ the bricks of my lists, the chants of my queries. For nothing else makes sense of this senseless earth, its thrashing lives, its vast solitude in the cosmos. Without an accounting, this mind-hull of heaven is Nothing.

 

Ref: Durga Puja in West Bengal, India. They say it assumed it present ‘sarbojanin’ or community-affirming celebratory form in the 18th century, when it was a means of uniting the countryside against the British Raj. Sometime in the last few decades in Calcutta it became a carnivalesque city-wide festival. For the Bengali diaspora, it became a means of re-creating the social-hierarchical structure they knew in their childhood and youth, usually in conscious contradiction of the meaning of the festival. Recently, it has become a way to re-affirm culture and unapologetic heritage. Here, above, I have tried to wrest prayer from festivity. 

Changing the World

When we say we wish to change the world we merely mean that we want to fix it in a form of our own making. For the world is always changing, and we enthrone shadows in the end.

All our battles of work and love come to mean the preservation of what we wish the world to be. We suspend it between this or that heaven or hell and try to chastise it into being.

When it is not to our liking, we punish it, or ourselves. We die when we punish what we love in the name of something else we would love. Utopias (nowheres) are by their definition the projections of our desires.

Change

You, Man, go on, tear up the script. I want to see the edges of that paper tear the light when you do it. Sharp edges. Make splinters when you scour wood. And raw, inflamed, cold skin. Scrape it out.
And you, Woman, cold as fury, you shall be ice shards in the wood fence. The bits that will pierce him when he reaches for the gate. Unable to burn, you will disappear and leave naught but the thought that if this is winter there must have been another season, too.

Tree

A. DOORS

‘Tis a terrible thing, isn’t it, to know that one is utterly responsible for every act, every instant, of this long and strange life…

How does one map the golden dust between the weight of this cross on one’s shoulders and the serenity of freedom? The smiles on all those sculptures say that freedom confers serenity. Others say justice is serene, or should be, and take solace in human formulations of transcendent law.

Crouching at the foot of all things tall–altars, crosses, saints, gods, statues– where do I put aside this bundle of grief? It seems out of place in thy philosophy. I cannot enter, my liege.

B. RECKONING

The poet, a man, had stacked body, heart, mind and god against himself.

I, being what I am, stack body against heart. There! The kindling is laid, and the cross.

C. PILLAR and TREE

Tell me how to stand without wish, without desire. Even Kalpataru rears arrested by longings.

Tell me, how to prune to singular aim this multitudinous life, that in pursuit of one invisible longing one may find the flowering and the fruition of all the long years.

Tell me. Is it true?