Sunday, January 22, 2012

Paul Metcalf, "Tihuanacu," Patagoni

the earth is a great creature, the rivers the bloodvessels, the earth turns one way and another, to warm itself at the sun . . . the first man mated with a gentle doe, and deerlike, generation by generation, the race of indians evolved . . . out of the phallus of the chief came the first maize, from his head, gourds

the spirit of the bird is in his feathers, of the flower in its blossom—a flower, at the fullest bloom, is dangerous, to be avoided
it is death to
sleep under the molle bush
                                    the great serpent, mother of waters, will draw an indian to his mouth with an inspiration of breath
a floating log, fish
or boa, or the rays of the sun, may invade a woman, bring forth a child deformed . . . the rainbow—shadow of the great waterserpent—will get her with demon

                                    there is a wild man of the woods, a hairy little creature, strong and wiry, with feet on backwards, who loves to carry off indian women
         the freshwater dolphin takes the shape and form, performs the office, of an absent husband
                                             in a jungle full of ghosts, it is wise for a man to make many noises, to establish his vitality
                                                                        the falling stars are urine,
the dew saliva of the stars


  1. Since we are on Olson (re: comment on Todorov, but now I'm going backward) I read this, from Human Universe: "It was better to be a bird, as these Maya seem to have been, they kept moving their heads so nervously to stay alive, to keep alerted to what they were surrounded by, to watch it even for the snake they took it to be or that larger bird they had to be in awe of, the zopilote who fed on them when they were dead or whom they looked at of a morning in a great black heap like locusts tearing up a deer that had broken his wind or leg in the night."

  2. same Olson, Mayan Letters: "and I take it, a Sumer poem or Maya glyph is more pertinent to our purposes that anything else, because each of these people & their workers had forms which unfolded directly from content (sd content itself a disposition toward reality which understood man as only force in field of force containing multiple other expressions

    one delightful fact, just picked up: that all Mayan jobs (sez Tatiana Proskouriakoff) are built around a single human figure, in all reliefs, etc.

    which is, of course, the ego which you, me, Mayan X were (are), he who is interested enough to, seeing it all, get something down

    What has to be battered down, completely, is, that this has anything to do with stage of development. Au contraire. The capacity for (I) the observation & (2) the invention has no more to do with brick or no wheels or metal or stone than you and I are different from, sd people: we are like. Therefore, there is no 'history.' (I still keep going back to, the notion, this is (we are) merely, the second time (that's as much history as I'll permit in, which ain't history at all: seems so, only, because we have been dragooned into a notion that, what came between was, better. Which is eatable shit, for the likes of those who like, same.

    Animation of what presents itself, for the thing on outwards: rock as vessel, vessel as tale, creating, men & women, because narrator and/or poet happen to be man or woman, thus, human figure as part of universe of things

    (Other things, of same, the provocations, say:

    the eye, in Mayan (other Indian as well) & Sumer fixes (jesus, in these glyphs, how, or stones, how, with any kind of device, the eye takes up life (contra Greek, Rome, even, Byzantine): ex., Museo, Campeche, a wonderful little 'monster' with eyes made so

    [relation to space/map/movement, eye-action; not what people have to say, but how they move -- ie, Greeks in marble are without pupils and frozen]

    [drawing here]

    and the hands (fingers):

    this is peculiarly brilliant at Copan (as I sd), where, if any dancer now living had sense, he'd be, finding out, how, to exploit this part of his, instrument

    not to speak of how the face is, the other dominant glyph in addition to the abstracts of other natural forms, is, the human or animal heads..."

    [Disposition to poise attention in a certain way determines civilization.]

  3. More of Metcalf: "on the hot shores, the indian and his woman rolled, rollicked in the sand, and his phallus—like the serpentphallus of chavin, flashing flower petals—presented the seed to her lips

    she kissed him, and the seed passed once more between them

    in semen, sweat and salt air, the indian and his woman performed, mounted the positions"

  4. Paul Metcalf, "Where Do You Put the Horse?" "I was dealing here with an unusual hybrid form: generally, works of art fall into one of two categories, those that may be taken in at once, like a painting or a sculpture, and those that require time for their reception, such as a symphony, a play, or a book. A totem pole combines both conditions: one can see it at a glance, or one can read it like a book, the chapters merging, top to bottom, or bottom to top. And to describe the mix, I have come up with the term, 'The Narrative Hieroglyph.'"

  5. Ernest Fenollosa, The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry, ed. Ezra Pound: "Will is the foundation of our speech. We catch the Demi-urge in the act."