Artist Statement: Beyond the mechanical constraints of rhyme’s reasons and rhythm’s oftentimes obsolete obstacles, there is a region of pure experience where companion seekers of The Light congregate. There, they suddenly find out that words—at least our old words— are not enough to project what lies beyond night and day, beyond hope and fear, beyond peace and war; beyond the many binary pairs that hold us earthlings in perpetual thrall. A poet’s lifetime burden, and the culmination of his art, it seems to me, is to find the quintessential form of expression that articulates the throbbing newness of the regions beyond our arid categorizations. My own poetry, until now, has straddled the dual boundaries of loss and gain, of hope and despair, of night and day; but its ultimate vision is to transcend them all and embrace what lies beyond these ephemeral categories. Following that, “Circle of Life,” “A Dirge Too Soon,” and “A Farewell and a Defiance” may be read not simply as explorations of the contradictory binaries of the contemporary physical world as we know it, but more importantly as baby steps on the stairway towards transcending all that which holds the human ideal in bondage. All three poems are related to death, and oppose the life-wish to it, but collectively, they are also the “burning prodding bother” that seeks to tickle the navel of a realm beyond all that we currently know, or are content to limit our discourses to.
Within the bounds of these heartbroken throbbings
That rankle our seared-soul spaces
Not a single hair that falls off our heads—
Whether stripped in the violent moment
Of the unceasing freedom wars,
Or strafed in media res,
By those hounds of primetime lies
Whose unceasing rampage mislead into death paths—
Not a single hair can, or shall, be lost
And you need not worry, beautiful one
About the millions of others who have doubts,
About the billions whose voices are muted
Behind the smokescreens of MSNBCNN, or their
Foxy upstart allies on the side of deathwish
You need not worry at all about us
Though they put so many obstacles in the pathway of love
Yet love will surely find a way, the way
Though they seek to singe our soft angel hairs
In all the bonfires of vanities they lit daily
Yet we will soar up and up and up
Though they trap our very bodies in multitudinous Guantanamos
Ship us off wholesale from a dozen Diego Garcia homes
Maim our rights to natural cheers and tears in a thousand Treblinkas
And calibrate our wills to be human within ample Abu Ghraibian shells
We who hold the secret of final laughters;
And know of the perpetual advantage of life over death:
We will pop out still
Because these men kill only bodies if they ever succeed
And our strengths do not proceed from that which is bodily:
We are the reasons that birthed eternity
We are the eternal soul forever sworn to survival
We are the products of life's forever-journey-into-soul-time.
We are the products of the first stirrings of the spirit.
We are beings that birth hope into the stagnant veins of despair.
We are they that renew in the denuded deserts of life's worst enemies.
We are. We never die. We will never die.
Just like you never did...
So tonight, soul brother, hold my hand in comrade-embrace
Though we stand besieged, we know too:
Our souls' strength shall laugh the siege to scorn
As it is written, somewhere in the eternal scripts above