I gave four prompts to collaborating poet Art Currim. He conducted three minutes of “fevered writing” with each prompt. Here are the results. These words comprise the lexicon I’ll use to create my dis•articulations poem.
Ancient tortoise reveals tropical DNA
Tropical DNA. What is it? Where does it come from?
Do I possess it, within? What part of me is tropical, anyway? After 23 years in North America, I’m sure I’ve shelled, shucked, and shat the tropical out. Not going tropical again – never want to stand out in the noonday Chennai May sun, that’s for sure. Remember when she coconut oiled my hair that one day, and I passed out during school assembly from the sun cooking the blood vessels protecting my brain.
I’m curious tho’ – where are my tropical roots, and do I need to find them? Am I expected to collect them from an unclaimed baggage counter at some airport? Do they have a tag, or a sign I might identify as mine? “Unclaimed tropical dna, shelf life 100,000 years”
I expect the ancient tortoise who might reveal evidence of my tropical DNA must itself (himself? herself? name?) live somewhere in the tropics. It wouldn’t feel appropriate to have a first-world expert – even if it were a fellow tortoise – tasked with identifying my tropical remains.
Or would it? Maybe I’m more easily identified by a stranger, my swirly dna reminiscent of the scent of fresh roasting coffee on a December morning
Gang Signs and Prayer
Gang signs and prayer never got me through the day, never saw the point in belonging anyway, not to church or to groups, not get stuck in a loop
no pride in messing with the law, they got their shit to deal with too
no good comes of no good deeds to do
would I snitch on a pal or rat on a dude? had a chance to but didn’t
had no business within it but to advise and step away
there are times when you need to stay
just by the line
say your piece and protect the victim
but get out of it in time
Keep your eye on your path
Climb on out of whatever dark
thoughts fill your busy brain
on an idle day
Does ignorance have an upside?
If ignorance is bliss, then tell me this – why am I happiest when I’m learning? Perhaps if it was enough just to live the life I was trained to, be with someone I’m chained to, walking off my regrets with the family dog I was forced to get, now there I see an application for surrendering hope, embracing the blanket of fog where up is down and all is the same – no peering for signs in the mist, no playing at life like a game – just running down the absolutes, buying the milk, fixing the shed – the same routine tasks you do until dead
Not asking why or who for, not waking even – surveying the sky from where you supine lie – not giving a hoot, dreaming you lucked on some loot and are living the life, free of strife, beyond care – knowledge’s an impediment when you dare, a way to green your high, to get you down, always bringing your facts around, your knowledge and philosophizing your rules and outdated idea of playing fair – pray tell me what chance does knowledge stand before ignorance there?
Biblical Mud, Potholes the Size of Kiddie Pools
This describes the roads in some parts of India when I was growing up
This describes the freeways in some parts of the US
where others are growing up now
Criss-crossing the land of the free
and you have to be brave to drive them
We have roads here that lead to nowhere
And the funds that it takes to build them
Copters and drones to fly around
Inspect them for signs of damage
We have drones for many things these days –
For selfies and target practice
For invading privacy
For filming your trip around the earth
To the north, to the west, to the south
When in a hurry, you fly
So why not fly over the potholes to avoid them?
Or fit skis to your rims? Like a water-snowsled
That way you’ll bear no risk of accidentally running over anything that might fit within a kiddie-pool sized pothole – like a baby elephant, perhaps. Curled up.
Or bushels of burning bushes. They would probably not be burning any longer, given that if they were, you’d notice and hopefully attempt to swerve out of your way to avoid them. But be careful when you swerve, that you don’t lose control, plough into what we term our “biblical mud” – local-speak for those mounds of fertilizer you’ll see piled high on the sides of highways and roads criss crossing developing countries. Why all this shit, you ask? Well they’re dried and pounded into cakes by hand, then dried some more – usually by the women and children of the village or town. Worm infections sometimes result. The cakes are used as fertilizer and as low-grade fuel throughout the developing world. There’s good reason for that – it’s cheap and plentiful and saves trees – which we might use someday to lay planks over all our potholes.
Art Currim gave four prompts to me. I conducted three minutes of “fevered writing” with each prompt. These words comprise the lexicon that Art will use to create his dis•articulations poem.
You will pass patches of beaming wildflowers in the springtime
and it will open something in you, some half-forgotten portal you’d thought was stuck shut. You will find your attention turned to things you ordinarily ignore, the perfume of the blossoms of the breeze stroking your skin. You will feel as if you had been dead, dead and not even knowing you were dead, and now your eyes are open and your tongue can taste the sweetness and the bitter once again. But what will you do with this renewal? Can you keep faith with yourself?
Sorry for the inconvenience
I didn’t mean to die on your watch. I know you were hoping for a quiet shift, no 911 calls, maybe a little nap in the afternoon, chance to watch a movie on your phone. But that cracker had to yell at me and shoot his gun. And now you have to drive Code 3 across the city, even though you know it’s too late. Calling it is above your pay grade, so you have to pretend to try to save my life, even though that life is already transitioning into something else, so much sooner than I expected. I hate to put you out.
Did you know all mothers come from heaven?
Don’t believe the hype. Mothers come from all kinds of places and not all of them are divine. My mother came from bitterness, a permanent disappointment that was her country. I had to expatriate, relinquish my citizenship in that land. Now I am an exile. She still resides in that vast nation. Sometimes I am granted a visa to visit. It is never for long enough, in her mind. She is growing a tumor and is afraid of death, afraid of what country they will send her to.
He could bend time
because he never believed it was fixed, always imagined time as a flow of light that could wrap around his spoon or a river he could ride all the way to the sea. Or the ocean which has no beginning and no end. He knew most people had got it all wrong, with their clocks and watches and pendulums. He watched the wind instead, he followed the melt of snowfall. He slept whenever he closed his eyes and his dreams followed him as he was awake.