1.14.2010

The almost perfect poem: Robin Blaser's "Image-Nation 2 (roaming"

we are journeying in company with the messenger


     but there, it was
there     'you' saw
the head of a horse burn,
its red eye flame    'you' stepped
to the fireplace where the meta-
morphosed log lay without a body
and put 'your' hand over the seeing

turned by that privacy
from such public peril as words
are, we travel in company with the messenger

the name of the bird who fell
from the hands of O-moon
is Naught     if following
angels, shaped tears, nourished by
Sodom apples, we draw darkness,
a kind of mud     (in the moonlight
white blossoms hastening to fall
are cut free)

then we, the apparatus, burned by a night
light, are travelling in company with the messenger


To continue the Deleuzian reflections on poetry and poetics.

If a poet draws a line between two points, any beginnings tied to ends, or readable coordinates we gather along a horizontal plane, won't really amount to much. Even the conquering vertical that is a poem's title, standing stanchion-like over the text and reader, leaves us cold in its shadow. Best not to erect it like a cross. And because Blaser's poem won't connect the dots in this way nor obey straight linear impulses—primary cause of weak poetry!—nor even give an unbroken title it leaves us "roaming" instead. Perfect and impervious to the punctuality of mediocre writing.

Better to be nomadically errant in Blaser's perfecting sense than predictable. After all, if you follow the footsteps, laid fresh in the morning snow, do we find the poet or "Naught"? No, the poem. Flawlessly knit, with no single "flight" here (or messenger) that doesn't at the same time open up one of a myriad sites, such as that ranging from invocatory 'you' to the "O-moon". The first of many but it's always best to work somewhere between that 'you' and the moon to find the true poem.

What counts as "flight" anyways? It's the turn toward the initial view of a flaming red-eyed horse or the transforming fire itself. Marvelous epic origins but resulting in the death of origins. The fire, for instance, is not a cause of real horses, imaged or not in the sacred flames: any more than to pass your hands over Blaser's embers is to feel the heat of divination, "kindling the heat of the father" as he says in his translation-poem "Pindar's Seventh Olympic Hymn". The impulse is divinatory but nothing rises through the smoke, not even "the name of the bird".

What doesn't exist can emit only shifting particles or make meaning out of "metamorphosed logs", fading to the point of becoming imperceptible, as already a new assemblage is about to be released over the poem's plane of immanence. Now fake birds of paradise appear in the moonlight: hearth embers dimmed into a late day of transgressed hope, "Sodom apples" and fields turned to mud. White embers are a becoming-blossom hurrying to their fall.

The reader, intuiting the poem's own machinic assemblage, or because it takes one to know one, is also an "apparatus" of sorts, every bit the molecular (never a 'molar') text that is the measure of the poem's speed and significance. So that we end with an apparently ironic inverse of heatless fire: a night light that actually burns. Unopposed by daunting titles (verticals) or sweeping localizable events (horizontals), Blaser's "Image-Nation 2" cares only to run diagonally between (& through) the most disparate languages, myths and cosmologies.

A perfect block. Without beginning or end, always at work in the middle, the poem that roams is perfect. Initial mythic pulsions become "nonpulsed", memories fade since travelling with the messenger dispenses with permanent sites and opts for a regime of molecular becomings: as how else is it possible to move from the red-eyed horse to metamorphosed logs to dying blossoms.

In fact, the log lying without a body may be a quasi-true symbol of the unorganized, disarticulated body the poem is: in fact, Blaser's poem may be in the most generalized sense possible the only body it has, a body without organs (logs, heat, names), destined only for pure abstract movement. And the poem that roams completely unhindered by bodily trappings of time, memory and sense (the broken, curvy and ruptured poem) is perhaps the most perfect of all.

No comments: