Eileen Tabios

Letter to a Poet Discovering Second Wind
(or, After Learning the Opposite of Algebra is Transcendence)

--for Barry

You are drawing me
back to this "shivering" world

not of our own making

Between lines so thin
imagery actually mirrors etched identity

you shade in flesh, non-translucent

I had surpassed algebra's constraints
of finity. I was dry among waves

I was soaring. As a song I never wrote

proclaimed: Baby, I was transcendent
Darling, I was on my way

Then you picked up an old pencil
sharpened its point (then sharpened it again)

ennobling you now also to draw blood

As for this world not of our own
making, it comes with meadows hospitable enough

to host our furrowed eyes (those beds of grass!)

And the sky remains constant still
(like X, despite the adventures of X)

reliably all-embracing

even when white pages tear
and begin to bleed

So listen to an ancient whisper

stir to flow
within the duet of our veins

This is the now. This is the now

Of course the rose on the windowsill
shall open petals "like a beak"

to "scold." It is empowered

not by its admirably histrionic perfume
but for relaying the messages of gods

Persevere: keep listening to the whisper first articulated

by a silk-swaddled infant
who matured to choose against all wisdom

poetry developed by footprints on the sadhu's path

We are not "ballerinas who need not read"
We are not even critics despite our Ph.D.s

Nor are we journalists turning the present into past
This is the now. This is the now

This is the now and it is our Preface

As for gods angered by mortal ambition
now breaking granite lids lowered

over eyes confidently somnolent for years

to reveal pupils roiling with thunder
over stone lips similarly cracking

to hiss a baleful glare: How dare you!

raise the impoverished flannel of uneven lime stripes
warming your pale, thinned wrists

Wipe your face clean off their spit

No other world exists
but this one replete with the bombast of wind

the hand behind a brush dripping gray

But listen -- allow -- the whisper
of ancestors helpless against Song

and the sunlit colors of its notes

(which, when melted, conform into sapphires,
rubies, emeralds, cats' eyes….)

An overlong Preface does not
obviate a Chapter One

and the 10,000 chapters that shall follow

to become a body for a life's journey, muscles for
the TITLE, in capitals (bold and boldfaced)

of your freed tongue's choosing

Breathe. This is the now
You have drawn a hole

through the page -- rupture, as it should be

Recall the image of every blank page
awaiting a poem

how the white field consistently lacks a map

complete with a smudged tattoo claiming
to know North from South, East from West

and the false grids pretending to measure distance

Inhale/Exhale. This is the now
Release your hand to erase the pedestals

of unchosen gods (white beards hiding teeth of black spears)

who would block your pencil's sharpened point
from penetrating the page -- Rapture, as it should be

From The Gray Monster In A Yellow Taxi
--a.k.a. "Rain Taxi, Vol 6, No. 2, Summer 2001" in the voice of Lot's Wife

I desire most
when it rains


How can one
label history
an "absence"

As if dissonance
can ever be "subtle"

Like the absence of
yellow taxis during days of gray water

Can fantasy
not be poignant

Does not reality
always leave
us wanting more

Antarctica keens
the Siren Song
of an unnamed woman
longing to be overcome
by an avalanche
not made of snow

More poets should
experiment with
"foundational questioning"

To rhapsodize over
"The River of Heaven"

Otherwise Pain
"our very own lack of pain"

While death persists
as a premature topic

The tale of the "Dirty War"
in Argentina (1976-1983)
is one of language
because all leftists
left Buenos Aires

This does not signify
a painting is
a blank canvas

Ask any Russian
at a funeral party

Fire is always
do not believe
the one who says otherwise
with an expertise
claimed through a label:
"P O E T"

To be accurate, define
Fire as Diane di Prima
aborting a child
because the man she loved
"willed it so"

We choose
what we name

We choose those "karmic traces"

Dream =/= Democracy

Yes, look back
Look Back
The Bible is only a book

Sometimes we have nothing
to give
but still give--
this could be confidence
This could be religion

This could be Blissful Ignorance

This could be orgasm

This could be, or Not

This could be an excuse
one gets away with
by serving up certain words
like "paradox"

Or "transcendence"

Or "archetype"

Or ascribing the role of creator
to a lettuce spinner's
whirlpool of paper slips
manufactured by the Chinese:

e.g. a lottery poem
birthed through lines
that spilled
between plastic cracks

This issue of Rain Taxi ends
with a non-coincidence:
"Catastrophe Theory"--
evolution through mutations
conflagrated by
failures to understand

Thus, monsters also hope

Look back
Look Back
The Bible is only a book--
I am still here

And I am breathing

I Breathe

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