by Jaye Bartell
Flim Forum Press
(Get your copy over at the Flim Forum.)
NOTE: The blank squares accompanying each poem in The Handmaidens and Bridesman section of The Alps struck me immediately, fascinated and moved me to respond. The squares display vivid possibility, actualized by the writing beneath them, poems that are far more than captions. Possibility, in fact, is the prevailing sentiment I’m left with; there is much to discover in The Alps, and the squares serve as a kind of field guide. They at once refuse to be empty, or to contain anything. The slightest suggestion of an image, --gold / lightning struck / water--, and the square floods. Turn the page, a new square is presented, empty, simple, but vulnerable to the foment of cognition, memory, grasp, and total loss.
The presence of a blank square terrifies. It is end or, worse, beginning, and again, which signifies an end, and one come to nothing but the recurrent initial form.
The picture, implicit, brought forth, shown by the shape it would occupy if present, or leave as mark, if gone. Describe what could be seen within such a dimension. A poem, aspiring toward image, a presentation, cannot hide the strain caused by omission of the fundamental picture, of its basis. Nothing new can be said that would exceed the size of a postage stamp. The frame expanded, a life of days gain narration, new, because told anew. The frame expanded, just so, becomes a window, to see what may be all of it.
The image fractures when given to language alone, failed when words are sole mechanism, to restore experience to the blinded—it falters, gives only sound, the effect, what remained, after reception, and embodiment. An image seen, but so quickly passed from view, that even if photographed, the air is absent, missed. Toward what direction did it all tend, the now unapparent.
It will not. The dimensions, too variant; the sky that held the breaking, dispersed, as if a part. Fixity allows for the emergence of clarity—a beam, a fount, a shaft— from chaos. The hole, drilled in ice, a geyser breaks the punctured surface, and threatens reversal, of surface, that what once contained is no longer, and blurs. A line dropped, into the amorphous, filament, endless particulate, suffused to become element.
shimoda (right) and frequent collaborator phil cordelli
In cold water, memory, languid, what passes among, objects once actual, become debris, of another, no longer possessed, but observed, elsewhere. What new image, to give form to voice, that recalls, and bringing back, sees again as, and not of, away, distant, what picture, correspondent.
Perimeter, both permits and forbids. There are only so many roofs visible from the window, so many arching bared trees, and the cars and lights, ephemeral. Value, defined: that it could have been anything, but was this, what took place, which had first to be made.
Memory, attempting. Looking, as light recedes and perception becomes its object, fade. The picture withheld, the risk, that all is false, that day and its weather. Were my hands not in gloves and those gloves not in my pockets, as now they are not. Am I at all, or have ceased. If not continuity, than at least recurrent, as in again and again, in myriad pieces of dissimilar snow.
The volition, frustrated, the violation, forcing ghost into body, a rehearsal of procreant need, against piety, that dares flicker when the darkening way struggles to preserve opportunity. We kneeled in soot, and in the morning, coughed, ash into the air, we must further live.
Out of phantasmagoria, a shorn plot, to let come what will and must. As if a clearing was all that was ever needed, to allow the story to determine its own course and contents. For once, a gap, uncluttered. Decimate the crowded halls, the stuffed frame, the heap of images, all existent color massed, black, in confusion. A small space but of enough dimension, backward, giving way, for the further image, what next comes to fill, and dispelling, leaves frame, for faces, hands, grasses, the time, all possibility, retroactive, to come again, but as unknown, emptiness given image, its truer name.
Jaye Bartell is a contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in North Carolina. He blogs here.
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