DERRIDA’S LENS

1.
She’s going to lick it,
the text reports
after the morning surgery.
She was an activist
in her youth –
her curriculum vitae
would include
a slain underground husband,
a poetry book,
an unfinished career
in the academe
which required her
to finish her graduate studies
or else…
How about time spent
organizing peasants & workers?
Of course, they didn’t count
in a place where formal titles
in a fetid environment
is de rigueur.
Now in her senior years,
she must pay for the unbearable
weight of the fascist reign
in her sickness
that the state, true to its Kafkan nature,
wouldn’t fairly compensate.
Do her friends
rue her alleged wasted years?
The country is still in turmoil;
feudal lords still smugly rule.
Will she pick up the pieces
& charge at the “windmills”
like a Don Quixote?
There will be always issues
that constantly surround
her like a plague
in her hospital ward
& silently figure out
the “indecidables”
of the heart.

2.
Did she renounce Marx
for Christ?
The sacred for the profane?
Her personal map having been
blurred by the stars
as she traced the path
to imagined bliss in
an invisible God,
like a black sheep
that finds its way home
to the ancestral flock?
Was it fortuitous
to find only the semaphore
of darkness at noon,
never the morning
that will not dawn?
Svengalis had drummed into her ears;
each to his/her own perilous
journey;
each to his/her own perdition
& hell.
O What then of life –
the sum of flights & falls
like the stairway of a
sloping footpath,
the siren calls
of the moment
that would be abandoned?
O questions of reason
& troubled negotiations
that flowed
towards the pure but
“impossible”.
[O that may happen, alas!
Despite our conscious knowing –
this “barely” Derridan non-event…]

3.
So what is there to write?
Derrida avers it too well:
all is “mis” in reading
in the very act of deconstructing…
Always the pure of origin,
site & truth
as littered with lies,
errors & misdirection:
all is contaminated,
the stark of bright light
is swaddled in the thick,
thick embrace of the dark…
Everything is in flux –
oxygen is suffused
with monoxide molecules,
this is our wordly lot…
This poem
can never pinpoint the enigma
constantly
revealing itself
in shifting crosshairs
of our gun sights…
What is there to pacify the crowd
that claims the truth
of what is visibly real?
All is mired
in passing rain & wind,
chameleon faces
& shadows
in between the kitten’s meow
& the tiger’s snarl…
I love you, my dear,
but I am a wine-drunk fool
who slobbers
& warns:
Don’t take my word for it –
it isn’t pure O contaminated!

4.
If nothing exists
that is final & definitive,
how can we proclaim
the certainty of justice
for the desaparecidos?
If purity of forgiveness,
even vendetta,
can never be within reach,
how shall we conduct
our lives
if prayers can never redeem
our grief?
Is somebody all-knowing
listening?
Are we prey to illusion
of having to balance
the unequal integers
of cosmic equation?
How do we keep the faith?
Are victims & executioners
on the same page
to profess innocence?
Who is culpable then?
The missing stats may access
the survivors –
having mourned briefly,
then decided to forget
because life must move on.
O we cannot get stuck
in the mud…
Questions that
are forever on hold
because we never really
seek the answers,
affix the QED
with sure finality.

5.
If we mourn,
how long shall it last?
Time to move on
but we freeze,
mountaineers say,
& drown
in the deluge of tears.
What is there to do, then?
What is the Rx of surviving?
Victims will not return
like Lazarus
from the secret grave –
the child playing Fort/Da!
game can only hope
that the mother reappear
& hold him in her
comforting embrace…
But nothing produces nothing –
the void forever
opens in the abyss
of our longings…
Once-upon-a-time
enfolds unto itself
the past & the present,
the future eyeless
as Benjamin’s angel
flying with his head
turned backward…
Who navigates the dark
cosmic room
where candles flicker
in phantasmagoria of dreams,
lightning glimmers
of their presence?
But the candle has burnt down,
& we gnash our teeth
in phantom weeping.

6.
The child knows
the mother lurks behind
the door
that closes & opens,
where she hides
as if on amnesiac leave…
In a moment,
will she be back
to play hide & seek
& rekindle infantile excitement?
O The game is temporary, brief.
But what if she is
gone forever?
Look at his bright, wide eyes
that shut down
into a deep, deep fright…
How can we hack
the primal scene
of lost visitations
that barely signify
love & passion?
O verily, the room,
switches itself off
to usher in daylong nightmares
& forgetting.

7.
A.
It must be summer
when casual conversations segue
into the artisanal & mortality.
B, come from a book launch
of a diplomat in waiting,
is mildly intoxicated
in seeing old friends,
ruminates how he would prefer
to donate his body
to a medical school
& help out the young
discover
the body’s mystery…
After all, wasn’t he an
artist & exposed to anatomy?
He doesn’t want mourners
to gaze down on him
through the coffin window
& remark
about him he couldn’t
parry…
In the perpetual void,
he finally would turn to dust
but resurrected through
the living:
enough of human voices then
from whom he would be
safely distant,
this corpus of pain
& discord…
As he droned on,
he would break the news
that X has passed on
in Canada,
Y has breached the animation
wall in California,
Z has returned
to recharge his creative roots…
But they were barely winners,
being second-class citizens
in a cold, cold country
where their talents are
racially stalled.
O That was
decades ago,
when chatter was mistaken
for discourse on art
as so damned profound…
Rambling on,
like a river
meandering in the forest
& the plains,
they would take note
of the kids around skittering
away from their
usually haunts,
unable to suffer
such jive about
aesthetic, time & memory
so alien to their
childhood…
O How we sometimes disturb the night
with words
as if martians
on earth have
surprisingly landed…
O this site where we laugh & sneer
as we make
our cavalier stand
in the market
of cheap dollars
& fragile resistance.
It must be summer
when casual conversation
segues into the artisanal
& mortality.

B.
He’s too busy to complain.
He’s booked, after all, until 2015.
But he wonders aloud,
re artists who profess
a deep faith in the spiritual,
how they could reconcile
the market quest for surplus value
& the transcendental/immaterial
quest for the sacred?
& it is this impossibility
of cutting off the cash nexus
& the naïve claim
of contractual exploitation
of relations
that allow him to snigger,
as if arrogance & humility,
forgiveness & vendetta,
can sleep together
guilt-free?
Should daily life be constantly
negotiated?
How do you maintain the vice?
Can virtue, even vice,
be allowed to cross boundaries?
What is free play, mon amour?

C.
He still narrates
how artists on top of the heap,
commanding Eurodollar price list,
must now languish
at the bottom,
their canvasses assessed dirt cheap.
O where is the glory of yesteryears?
Fashionable painters
pass with the passing season:
how continental storms brew
& rains disastrously fall!
O Nothing lasts forever –
Wall Street players give the meal ticket.
Carpe Diem – Soros shrewdly intimates –
but cautiously celebrate!
Sand castles must beware
of the coming tide.

8.
The empty page
stares him in the face,
like a python
poised to swallow his
secret nightmare –
O only if he were always asleep,
he could steer clear
of the gory memory…
But the sun is ever
on his eyes
& mornings barely afford
that wished-for reprieve.
Whose life
should he chronicle now?
The absent heroes
or pretentious poets?
None but his own
that is quickly drying up.
What should be the lesson, then?
Everything & nothing –
always the spotlessness of
the blank, blank page
like desert dunes
that burn into his eyes,
blinded with words, words, words
forming a chain of suns…
O in the academe
& elsewhere,
this quilt of needlework
is spread across the room
like a fisherman’s net
to trap unsuspecting kids
& haul them into no-thing,
a site where everything is written
in invisible ink…
___________
O How we write furiously
as if we’re all needed
in this country of the unlettered
who spill blood of impotent anguish
& disposable knowledge.

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One Response to DERRIDA’S LENS

  1. “O How we write furiously/as if we’re all needed…”–it’s an illusion/delusion i live with daily to rationalize why i have to face a computer screen or a blank page. thank you, edel, for the poems that serve as reminders & thank you for continuing to write in this vein

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