Lyn Hejinian

from BOOK EIGHT of A Border Comedy

Stories often go into the dark and stay there
To change
Springing from nocturnal sounds
Into experience which daylight might otherwise obliterate
Drawn from dark moods which cannot be called linear
We change the stories in our biography 
Make use of life
And it is very strange, the flowing in of memory on perception
Origins explain nothing
Themselves in need of explanation
Once was a mermaid martyred ashore
She stood half humanly on her soft white feet
And sang tenaciously
In as many lines as it often takes, a story has emerged 
We can feel our way to the company named 
Locating characters and characters' things
Though never explaining their finality
The ineffable poise of the cadaver
Its organs in its naked hand
Making the familiarity it had with itself available
Displaying its physicality, a physicality it still has in common with us
But which is now all we share
Being otherwise completely severed from each other 
The cadaver will not speak
The cadaver cannot link impressions 
It is immediate
It lacks habits, is proximate to nothing, will not argue
Nor will it rinse its finger over a word
And mean metamorphosis 
Spotting the ironies between aphorisms
The sensitivities
They are like apples falling heavily to the ground 
Abandoning the body 
Not as a philosophy which cannot be perfected
But as an aid to passion
Which with reason will return 
It speaks disturbed
And sometimes it regrets while sometimes it rejoices at absurdity
Example: He mistakes her for a secretary; she thinks he's an escaped
Thus the apples are effortlessly disguised 
As objects of appetite
That could never be traced back
Their denarrativization having been achieved
Through an excess of referential and symbolic detail
As in a baroque sleep around a medieval dream
At the end of a day that went by of its own accord
Moving about in the neighborhood where it most often appears
And where by not letting our attention leave the neighborhood
We increase the probability that it will be there again
This we call remembrance 
Or calling to mind
As one would sweep a room to find a jewel 
Or as one must run through the alphabet to complete a rhyme
From a great lock of letters 
With a stage wink the magician's assistant hands the magician the hat
The magician looks into it, removes her glove, reaches in, and gently
removes a spider
With the allegorical practice that magic demands
And sets it on a surface that's either mirror or lens
A metaphor producing a metaphorical reflection
The contradiction of itself, I think
Of sentences and of Cezanne, I think, capitalism is cruel, and so is
positivism's promise of progress, I think
I think that words commit me, I think to islands but to islands of interest
There's more noise every year, I think, I've seen a ghost, of A and B and
C, I think 
With fear but fervor too
I think of some philosopher's saying that the gods' metamorphoses are
divine duplicities
But I disagree 
It can't be deceptive to play in time and do as other things do
Time's an excitement
As I write this 
Directing the flesh to work
While I anticipate laughter
Or a night visitor who will come from the distance
It is a boy who is a snowball
It is a girl in a sunbath with a stick
Girl: First, I camp; third, I curl; sometimes, I stand
Boy: Whatever I see is seemingly revealed 
Girl: Onward
Boy: Narrative
Narrative: Letter 
Letter: Dear Boy and Girl, I burn and the blisters are rising
So let's talk of the body, its pain and gossip's object
One's body is something one can never take back 
You were saying that reliance on chance makes much of coincidence and
altogether misses continuities 
Coincidences can never be more than mere objects of aesthetic revery 
Whereas continuities are objects of decisiveness and hence of change
And of exchange too
Continuities are a long border 
My memory is seizing in and on the present 
It seems to be jumping out 
Playing idea against idea, genre against genre
As was common in the fourteenth century
When eloquent romance and dirty fable could freely interpenetrate
And tingle
To produce, by the way, many of the irregular verbs
Like get, got, and gotten 
Which capitalism wants to clarify
And dream reclassifies (which is what we mean by memorization)
Otherwise the work fights the very moment in which the work is being done
And nullifies it
So it has to be done again
In a fight against time
In a little passageway 
I saw another
I measured the distance between us
But I should explain how Išve written this 
Much aroused
In space
Which is to say waiting
Then jumping
It's the jump that separates each instant from the earth
The jump is the real rolling wall
The bird flies like a zipper being unzipped
And the mountain becomes
A valley
Sure -- there are such spaces
They are unintelligible but hilarious
Pointed gulfs
Mirrored bends
And what is hilarity but an unfinished exhilaration of spirits
Carried to the point of boisterous conviviality 
The sharing of anecdotes, confidences, gossip
But one can't gossip without a body to betray
Sad and thirsty, as the heron says
I'm so inoffensive no one complains of me
And at that the pie tin flew into the air and the egg dropped into the
It was perfect
One last glimpse and I could float away
A simple solo head 
In thought 
I'd be
Culturally abob, naturally away
Among strangers
Nameless in myself but full of synonyms and homonyms
A world pun
That proves the popularity in which I figure
In self-consciousness
At the wrong time
But consciousness in all its forms is a central topic of this book because
it is a link made manifest (though tenuous) between the stranger and the
Who am changed
Who changed on 
At a clip
Or is it a click, a catch of squiggles on the page of a mapmaker
Who keeps his pencil moving on his bouncing lap as he drives
Deep into gendered territory 
At which he's afraid to look
Since its cliffs hide faces behind curls awaiting heads
To which to speak of their narrative seduceability
Their unquenchable yearning to be cleft by some good story
In which nature triumphs
To excess
In a dream vision of a colloquium on love
Called at a fair ground in May in the shade 
Not far from the race track around two show rings
Which in my dream are entirely yours
Finally only the possible remains
I had seen the boy one day entering the room and moving to a chair under
the windows
Whose glare prevented me from seeing more of him
One day, two years later, casting about for a character, I thought of him
I refused to put a ring through his nose as if he were a bear
It was a tender gesture, this bit of negativity, this refusal 
Some days later I began a study of 'reason'
From the fact that I was allowed to continue, you can perceive the degree
to which I had been granted academic freedom
It was extreme
It still is
To this day I'm operating without a Ph.D.
To avoid chicanery, I've contracted with myself to take notes on all that I
It is outer, not inner, knowing that allows for empathy
A good note-taker cannot be indifferent to the image -- she must picture
the pin, the pink fragment, and the wacky state
She must see herself (front and back) and profit by it
And poetry cannot say why 
I see across the river
It's hard to make out the details -- objects out of light 
But all of modern life is said to be out of situations
The question is, do I want to make something happen
By waiting here
Eye to hole
Hole to view
What if I had to change holes
What if the hole disappeared
As in a case of amnesia
Leaving no distinction between the past and the future
I could live near a river and bring home a fish everyday
And if I did so early I could do other things before dark
The other day I sat myself down at a drawing table 
And drew myself 
A body 
I set myself
I always do 
A task
Until I found the eyes
And if I did so late I could do other things before morning
In its mayhem, and autumn too will come, different advice, people speaking
through doors, an orange cat, a form inserted  
Lips flying but it's gone 
And something else has come along
But enough of beauty! -- isn't it enough? with nothing to become?
Just steadfast severance? 
That would never make a gal laugh
Flush with affinity, reference, tug
A romance erupts
And everything turns out, though no one can say how
Perhaps it all came about in a cling
From seducer to meander
One brave kiss deserves another
Soon everyone is kissed and everyone changes
What makes that so sad?
Someday someone is bound to break the spell
Since they say that a sentence is not complete until each word, once its
syllables have been pronounced, has given way to make room for the next
In a series 
Of slaps, of smacks, of bops, of whacks
From Phyllis and Phillip
Who get Aristotle 
On all fours 
To gallop them through the garden 
Saddled and bridled
It's true
The person in power acquires the donkey's weakness 
And if that doesn't mean that something has happened 
And that something is about to happen 
Then reason doesn't count for much

Video segments of Book Eight by Lyn Hejinian

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