Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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3251 words
SHJ Issue 2
Fall 2010

The Pure Products of Pure Writing Go Crazy

Lennox Raphael

Okay, I’ve called myself a writer for too long. I have nothing but my repossessed soul to show for the burden of pain. I am up to here in remorse because of the burden of the course. I’ve killed too many words. I never wanted to be a vampire. Good at making excuses, I fell in with the wrong metaphors. I would have to conquer fear. I was told an angel would be seated on a rock in the clearing, but, as though death held no shame, ended up on the back seat kissing crystal mountains. No one is born nameless. Life alone is what we have: life everlasting; pity; doubt; joy; fractious innocence fat sky, deceit: delicious mimicry; chains of fools repossessing innocence: mystic winter of silence, blood kisses, as, having toured celestial cemeteries, one swore on the grave of one’s own ghost !WHAT’S HAPPENING TO OUR WORLD?!? hold on, hold on: between pride & irony, love, wrapped in ice & barley cement, freezes to death and lives as a wound, as kisses strewn at the feet of amazing grace; and one understands the importance of making/remaking tomorrow even as we unchain ourselves from sorrow: Reality: in this day & (r)AGE: an emptiness filled with siren calls & feelings lashed to the mast, we, diadems lowered to the eyes — to get past phantoms of literature — turned grief inside out in pawnshops of feelings & tried to cheat Nature of orchids & ghosts so we could take that emptiness and have reality be signs from scorpion white ivory bones wrapped in weeping mirrors experiencing last twitches of conscience on the sly: and why is Nature so fretful? BEFORE GOING TO BED THIS MORNING, AFTER BEING UP LATE WRITING ABOUT WRITING, ONE USES A WOODEN SPOON TO PREPARE A BOWL OF DOUGH. As usual, the bedroom window was open & the room cold — days of below-zero snow & freezyfrozeyfingers skatingwalkingbiking on city lakes — chill everywhere — photographs of a laugh — haughty, refreshing reminders of the romance — joy — of literature snuggling up to exclamation points as one returns from the seaside to find everyone still asleep — but morning rising from the snow, the dough spooned out for baking, the sink cleared of dishes — one made soup and fresh hum[m]us; read a page of VOODOO CONTRA, by Robert Gover, and, searching for a time when writing would have burnt the bonds of its integument — Karl Marx — and flooded these pages with loneliness, fed & cleaned rabbit, guinea pig, birds and, having run out of distractions, settled down to wondering whether this could be an opening to what I intended to essay about big game hunting metaphors in ruby high rises & Montaigne swamps among proud scarlet ibis, venturing into ages of openness, embracing the impossible and going, even after having no more to give, after ice melts on the lips of a sentence, and words restore themselves to new beginnings — living every breath, every itch; every blade of grass chewed into history, patties, and into banana & avocado sandwiches in Port-au-Prince, love, of bleeding dreams, caves of love and, under God, paint jobs of literature bent crucibly under the weight of metaphors & remorse — soar beyond imagination, knowing one can build a house twice in caves of love, but the foundation once, and Time, sentimental as passion, shifts for an uncertain prize — pure sentences belonging not only to the past, or to histories of surrendering to language and to metaphors already engaged to the true sweetness of life as cynical keepers of grave mistakes: showing how only an inner geography can redeem our collective impossibilities: the same way rain never takes sides, falls on the lips of beauty and acknowledges the importance of being ugly in a beautiful way — and though one may have trusted in shadows, a pig understands better the language of quicksand, and earthquake, and can walk across Golgotha to the bridge that takes one to heaven, but imprisons us in dreams where entrances to the cave are festooned with crystal teardrops, The Unknown Bait by rumor, innuendo & mauvaise langue where Bait is Bait & fate FATE fated to be average beast but why then, would death, even this moment evincing satisfaction from deceit, be in such a decent haste to laugh at itself? — but the closer one gets to the future the more difficult it is for kisses to run on thin fear from desire lying fallow in the hollow of Nature’s horrorscope — Port-au-Prince — reincarnation aside, but why else be disturbed by desire? — late arrivals of our private alligators should not be used as measurements of Fate — one had long wanted wings — torn, therefore, between substance & befuddlement, one chose a 3-speed bike on water — scenes from one’s personal divinity — one could not be held for salted embraces or for wounds presuming innocence before cure: HOLDING ON TO THE SCORN: scraps of memories as quilts of desire, showing exactly where one was wrong to believe one could rekindle passion for altruism; and not have to cross that bridge over the wound and somehow expose meaning for the mischievous scamp it is during travels to Port-au-Prince (as literature to God would be another essay against itself): the earth opens up & gives birth to sadness, and there is no way back to the womb except by trial & terror. See that moon over the ruins, some call it Allah, some God, Yahweh, Jehovah, Buddha, Krishna, a thousand names, billions of feelings, some as simple stones, trees, rivers, seasons, thunder & lightning, Thor, tsunami, tornadoes, mystical swizzles, hurricanes, floods, rain: reflections of innocence while looking at the suffering in Haiti after the earthquake of two days ago when one started crying. Tears that come unannounced flow from the toes up & never ever stop reminding us the world is within and there is no such thing as sin, only the human heart and the part we play in making the world lovelier than ever — but, all styles aside, what is this? Is it Hazlitt? — and when is an essay a poem, a meditation, a reverie, sentences with a broken heart, language torn apart by choices and questions, voices from the rubble and earth still quaking smoking screaming !THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END!?!? — and, yet, we go on, we reject our screams and believe again in human nature and skip over one pain to another, and again & again, until the sun is wet and rain dry as sky and wanting to know why the human spirit, the will to continue, is never beaten into the ground — knowing once we leave Heaven the gates are shut, and metaphors take over; stand guard, jostle our memories; threaten; rope us in: and there isn’t a place left for those who adore Reality; or fiction; who outfit evil in the regalia of double trouble from unsuspecting, uncompromising surrender to what is best in us at the worst of times during our crimes against traveling to God — “The World is Coming to an End” — the perfect teardrop is the one we do not need — perfect dream would soon be in shambles — and, straight from the television set, “The World is Coming to an End” — out of nowhere — suffering & disease displease, if you please. Having no idea whether God himself would stand for love on the hire purchase plan of literary genocide — the kind that kills meaning & absolves us from conditions on the ground right now: time & hesitation: the whole world shakes its fist at God — but which one? — and when is Allah God & God Allah? — which of us would wear golden masks of the same dreams — alarming reflections of ourselves — where tears were the feet of the sun and we can talk of what it takes to cry, to feel the suffering of others, these same reflections, as there is virtually no love without prayer & fasting and no sadness without sniffles. Charred wings of angels, great writers as those stars in the sky, and, sometimes, when time is right, and there is no more fight left in us, when we can write no more, and have no more to give, and can’t stop thinking of human cruelty & of Nature, and its immunity from prosecution.

And we would long then to see the face of Eternity — & not just be witnesses of Human Folly & other reflections of our selves, having no patience left & unable to distinguish between benevolence/betrayal & theft draining every teardrop from memories one can no longer take to the shop & becoming every man, woman & child caught in the trap of Nature — beyond the reach of pure writing, or sex — when loneliness takes the best of us & one is one’s own tragedy and, going to the edge of the mountain top, listens to the sound of life as it drops on the head of the dead — and having to pause — because life, after all is what we find in the debris of recall — and, memory being what makes us human, the enemy within is beyond vanity & sin — like flashes of days of Kigali at a family dinner with a dear friend, Foreign Minister of a European country — Let them kill themselves, he said, without rancor — and one did not disagree — we were throwing our hands up — and who amongst us could feel through the tribal chaos? — one wondered — what is this brother-in-law thinking now, I thought, as Haitians & others were being pulled out of the rubble — what part — like any of us — he could play in helping to make this an essay — but one crossed it out — until days later, in the snow, in Langeland, one put it back in — and knew he would’ve been thinking just like us, just like you — that Nature is not tribal — holds no grudges, is never on trial, writes its own ticket to the merry-go-round of life & pain & joy and is neither friend nor enemy to suicide or genocide — and we don’t have to turn the blind eye or stare at a wounded sky — natural tragedy touches us in the same place, the same moment: makes us people: ennobles our warmth: sadness: grief from Nature always a thief in the night; no delight — so one looked then in the mirror, and heard voices, reflections of distant futures — and who the hell ’r you? — could one have been a book all this time: pages; synthetic tree; a tome universalizing love & suffering & honoring catacombs within lonely bones?

Life being a whirlpool of experiences — each one different: but all the same: pure writing emerging from dreams — and I can only ask myself, so what are you not guilty of? — what? — since luck depends on nothing — homeless ideas lost in the shuffle of time — conversations & memories colliding as satisfaction becomes another version of happiness & aloneness a symbol of missing nightmares — dreams as global feathers tickling compassion — tainted guilt buried deep in folds of innocence — I have been there — but who would believe me? — I have seen the inside of the wind as it sought to tame irony — I have removed stitches from butterflies and watched as, strangled by loving embraces, biscuit-thin ghosts buried their dreams in the snow — where true lies bloom like flowers do — love, love, love — and one shuddered at the meaning of life: how it compromises the future of guilt — O, to be denied that last satisfaction of wondering what am I guilty of if not love — of rejecting it — the devil of the heart, fragile to the utmost, becoming butterfly wings after seeing the insides of the wind & waking up to pure writing as definition, witness, and charitable cruelty — like that afternoon on artichokes mountain getting my finger stuck in the car door — O, the pain of God! — how can you not write a pure line for each loss? For those who lost their double souls? for teardrops shed by inheritors of Dessalines & Toussaint L’Ouverture? How do you open the soul and close the spigot & not allow writing to wash the slate clean and be a lullaby? — and, in that second dream, what woke me up, with a start, as did the sound of those earlier teardrops on the floor beside Papaya birds’ cage in Copenhagen, was purple snow wrestling with rainbows over Port-au-Prince and Erzuli Freda, buoyed by her yellow & red calendar silk dress dissolving into snowflakes, singing Life is — indeed — complex and worth always its weight in gold this writing IN VOODOO IN HAITI — and, in the dream, I would notice, beside me, Apache, a dog I lived with once — Apache sniffing for survivors — & I said: so, you see, Apache, life is that piece of bread at the end of the knife — I sit with you — I am you — beyond reach of anxiety & freedom — having the chance to be Gran Met — questioning wars against reality — any war — I don’t mind — there is comfort in answers — possibilities encourage us to think — slavery & holocaust are about failure — human failure — failure of invention — failure of civilizations — all is preparatory — take life as it is — as it comes — as the door opens — and one kisses the broom — rainbow kisses the best — exploding into choices — Apache — there, in Santa Cruz, among the papaw trees, you spoke a language I understood so clearly — silence — so, you see, Apache, life is still that spot of bread at the end of a knife; and I believe you, I do, you don’t have to say another word, I believe you with all my heart(s) — have saved my kisses for you — I have — and the difficulty of being is what you’re seeing: and what you see is death at its finest:: a thousand angels on their backs, their wings neatly arrayed; the hot sun blue with envy, sorcery, worship, innocence, a devilish instinct for sadness — I am happy now — I believe you — keep talking: what more do you want? what more can I give?

We become our only wish — and writing? — writing is what heals — elixir, language, ghosts from a future past, and, also, a heavenly repast, feelings, the things from which I have been hiding, releasing, bit by bit by bit, a world bottled up in me, stepping over my fears & sharing those tears, my dreams — realizing I have to go back.... To get to the future — I must go back, retracing one’s steps over the bones of memories & walking across language to the promised agony, for, after all, after the dust has settled & dreams buried in haste, life does make a difference. Did she have that child? Were they among the 230,000+ who were devoured by the earthquake beast on January 12, 2010 as snakes in the moonlight questioned answers given by those who know everything — your turn now, said God — stay as sour as you are — pretend to be you — hide my kisses under your tongue — do this, do that — remember this: remember that — the authenticity of a shadow is sunkissed pure writing wondering sometimes lonely beginning — For whom do you write? — having no answers and governed by miracle & doubt, going beyond that, as, beneath the rubble of life, everyone longing for something, longing for what we do not have, for what we cannot have, longing for the unlongable, the unmentionable — Longing for someone — the Devil longing for God — I long for you — others for plasters to cover the sores of history — at times longing is for someone far away — distant ships lost in a wave at sea — longing too to be the waves: language: longing too for death, our secret ambition: one we keep from ourselves — a sacred pact with oneself to discover if we are made real by what is already in existence — the imperialism of fate — Lordship of envy, the terror & incestuous gaze lodged in mirrors: the unreliability of reflection; and, then, writing, and the sentence’s good side, the aspect/view that leads into ourselves & away from satisfaction, one last chicken in the chocolate — Love carrying its guilty secret to the grave, scratching its teeth on our hearts — slipping on kisses & falling in love with kindness, a poor fit — vanity pawning its dreams for next to nothing, the eyes of Death thick & blue as cheese melting in the snow: a kind of literature whose triumphant outpouring of grief is wild with pity — fatal beneath the belt of love, the grave saying NO & the living Yes — Love wielding one sword with its tongue & the other with the earthquake’s hyena laughter of silence — breaking out of the frame of pure writing — and life too — absconding with challenges — re-entering the womb in search of details of pure writing — instinct & belligerence — fluid ambiguities — imperishable metaphors — text imperialism in bed with Plato — history as the measurement of an absence (the pornographic innocence of language) — the meaning of an image, its dismantling and delimitization — destitching — or turning inside out, becoming: unconscious being undermined by conscious (being) the deplatonization of understanding — how, at 6, could I have known — how could I have guessed this essay — that writing lies exhausted on the third rail? — for several years writing only in the dark, and much of this outside (under the stars): PURE WRITING — which could have been the start of this essay — or could Socrates be right in believing To know, is to know that you know nothing.

That is the meaning of true knowledge? — writing inside a whirl of Time & exclusion — one seeks to get to the bottom of things — entering the shadow & then going beyond it, listening to a call (and acting on it), disproving self-censorship, improper editing, fright, ultra-anxiety; refusing to allow the outcome to determine itself, over-writing, over indulging; thrashing around in standards — unable to get past fear of the self, and, in the very act of diving into the pool of creativity, arresting the drive (by over-questioning) and seeking (attempting) to pull out of the dive to a safe place where one would be understood (and not criticized) — and, perhaps of even greater importance, allowing the reader to make his/her own mistakes in the sweepstakes of understanding — truth becoming successful fabrication — pure writing, divine humbug, in search of the prey — where the image is jackal to the metaphor — pure writing, at its most revelatory, issuing from anointed spaces baptized by silence & contamination — meaning, absence, transposition, unguided excavation of the sacred, beyond fractal frontiers, discovering beginnings that exist outside of space & cling to an imaginary whose resources & translationality are accessible to an unmoored consciousness & pure quote unquote, all things important being invisible, for only death makes us visible as we are transformed into absences, every ounce of text stripped from our bones, the fate of life artists, essay too, and no escape during that first dream flying over a city reeking of rose water that kept the head spinning.

Carnival of the text: Nature showing one is incapable of writing an essay about how not to write an essay, and this should instead be an essay of how unpardonable it is of the earthquake to have caused the cancellation of the Haitian Carnival (Karnaval) which is so divinely embedded in inner hearts of Caribbean & South American Carnival nations where Carnival festivities are voodoo sinews of national therapy: where people from all walks of life abandon the yesterdays of their lives. Where living never lies.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury