When the situation hits reverse
When you sleep and the situation speaks in tongues
When you don’t have a seatbelt and you don’t have a car
Going backwards off a cliff is not such a bad plan.
You might start dancing and you might change hats
You might introduce yourself as somebody new
But you don’t have a car and you don’t want to steal
So you rise from the dead just to try it out.
And you’re not such a dunce – as you feel your way –
And you spin even more – and feel even more new.
I wrote this in a couple of minutes to the tune of Fates Right Hand by Rodney Crowell – sort of a country rap song from years ago. I always like personal transformation stories. Not that Fate’s Right Hand is a personal transformation story. But I guess the juxtaposition of these images signifies such a possibility.
Just before Jimi Hendrix played the Star Spangled Banner
A wave went through the crowd.
Sleeping girls with feet caked in mud stirred.
Boys asleep with long wet hair awoke.
Potheads spinning up looked down.
Potheads coming down looked up.
Country Joe and Buffalo Springfield and Melanie
saw something moving like a river & coming into view.
He spoke without using a mic.
Ask not what your country can remember for you.
Ask what you can remember for your country.
The crowd applauded and gave him a standing ovation.
‘Inauguration Day man,’ the guy next to me said.
I looked at him closely.
The pottery in the next to last image is of Cucuteni-Trypillian neolithic heritage. I thought it played off the idea of ‘pothead’ as well as being a vessel the motorcade passed through. The images superimposed over JFK in the third image are the Sri Yantra diagram and a detail from the Book of Kells representing JFK’s ancestry. JFK loved poetry and read for pleasure so these are perhaps fitting images of tactile and spiritual deep time.
I do not claim copyright on original images. I have created new, non-commercial artworks for the purpose of parody or commentary.
Around here we measure everything
words, costs, speeds–
so nobody gets hurt
be sorry et cetera.
Define and predict: the span of germs,
the time of dinosaurs,
the era of humans.
Expiry dates on foods
favour short-lived romances
over the lifetime ones.
We’re being practical.
We measure tumours.
Sizes disturb us
same as their unyieldingness.
We keep notes. Calculate and file.
Out of stubbornness
we look for equals.
The whereabouts of clouds
we know precisely. Not so sure
about our thoughts,
we get near them,
and wave –
young hands inside a steep creek.
Realm of flesh fingers that measure
the cruelty of flow.
Born in Albania, Majlinda Bashllari is the author of two poetry collections, Një udhë për në shtëpi (A road to home), published in Tirana, Albania (Morava, 2007) & Love is a very long word, published by Guernica Editions in 2016. Bashllari’s work has appeared in numerous Albanian art and literature magazines and in Albanian anthologies of essays and short stories. She lives in Toronto.
All I wanted was a can of rice pudding. After a long day I wanted a reward. Not a drink. Not dope. Just some rice pudding.
In other stores I’ve seen cans of rice pudding beside the Devon cream near the condensed milk or in the baking goods section.
I thought of her, who I lost, and how she would heat pudding and serve it topped with Devon cream. I wondered who she was serving now.
The staff had no clue. One said aisle 13 with a blank stare.
‘Isn’t it with the pudding?’ said the one with centipede eyebrows.
I was determined to find the rice pudding section.
A woman without a shopping cart or purse or umbrella studied a jar in aisle 13 and then a bag in the organic section freezer. I figured she was the store detective or an immigrant figuring things out or maybe somebody lonely looking to get picked up.
I checked every possible location. No luck.
I walked away half an hour later in the rain wondering what sort of loser looks for rice pudding at ten o’clock on a Saturday night.
I thought of Rumi saying sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.
But I didn’t have any cleverness to sell.
All I did was dump coffee in the sink
And he appeared. He must have wanted to go on a trip, a journey or a jaunt, I doubt he wanted to be washed down the drain.
Which wasn’t the plan anyway. Not when there is so much to see everywhere, day or night, here or there.
And kindred spirits to discover.
With golden suns disguised as room-temperature metal beginning the process of your transformation. No matter how you begin.
Was it a mistake to throw out the old drafting table during my decluttering blitzkreig with its thousands of hours of receptivity to mark making, creating & colouring upon a flat screen opening to the unknown through seasons of catastrophe, celebration, and hope
Only to discover new ones at the same price, half the size, rickety, like stacking plastic toy soldiers until they fall to the floor beside the laundry and a coupon expired
Standing half as tall – is this how people live today – cramped / like ceilings pressing at odd angles, like too much irony or TV news or variety shows with varieties of one crop farming
In the city I discarded what I could squeeze into a hole, after it made itself known, who could fail to notice this hole, brazenly tapping at the doorway like trance drumming & insisting on action
As loud as a hole can be without attracting the attention of other shapes competing for psychic food although that might be a personification best for allegory or proverb
& Even vibrations (especially vibrations!) passing into wood or metal created in the right spirit, I’m sure it was the right spirit, know they are the right size for the hole, the circle, the absence, the sun
Though saying goodbye to memories vanishing into & beyond the hole might be a mistake, if there are mistakes in the ecology of memory and in the shadow of labour – no I am sure there cannot be, and a goodbye is never a forever, yes it often is
In this new world, either squatting, or hiding from the enemy, or working within form shrinking from moisture or heat or time, one realizes a newer price will have to be paid for a full size, it’s no longer one size fits all, it’s no longer all at all
One might reclaim discarded memories in the hole though they float away forever, but the idea of agreeing, I think, is to create another hole, a flourishing courier system arriving in the future at the other doorway, or now, and how can any mistake be made while awaiting couriered delivery
Of it all & with a great sadness, goodbye
An idea for a novel came upon / me.
The next night I dreamed the title.
I didn’t see any connection
between the title
and the idea.
I wrote on paper with 3 holes / long-hand / daily, and typed those pages.
No matter the words – I simply transcribed.
If I heard it in my head I wrote it.
72 days later I had a first draft. And editorial notes for each segment.
I stapled each batch and stacked them on top of a cold radiator.
The typed pages are in the computer.
I emailed them to myself daily.
I didn’t edit the material
or refashion it.
I treated it like poetry
with a germination period,
alone in the dark.
Just allow it / to arrive
from surprise destinations.
It’s in the dark now.
Out of nowhere / it never failed
Like arriving from darkness.
A novelist told me the first draft
is the most difficult part
of the process.
This didn’t feel difficult.
I hope this is a good sign.
A sign in the dark.
until the sign