Record Keeper: Ear, faulty as Eye, and I, a vibration between, a taut twangy nylon string or a needle scratched against a vinyl thing.
Dog days are pivots of silence, siestes of long afternoon light. Even birds and bees sleep now in shade they’ve made their shelters, yet our cars on the avenue dance accidentally: the streetcar skates on its rails; a driver guns his Solara past. The neutral ground is never neutral. Avec violence: Heat rises. Water rises. Throat of the Great Dog rises with a light toward fall when our men will lace their cleats, puff up their chests and tackle each other sans armes, and we’ll cheer. We’ll cheer. We’ll hear the song of summer stars shift in the leaves of the trees. We’ll think the tension of the dance has ended, that the stars have stopped pulling our strings. The air will cool and the waters recede, but at dusk the cicadas still sing: le chien le chien le chien.
“But how can we explain the way we hate ourselves, the things we’ve made ourselves into, the way we break ourselves in two…?”
—Kate Tempest, Brand New Ancients
“The map has a specific allure. It reduces the complexity of the world to a manageable space, and suggests distant lands are not so distant. In this miniaturized space, it’s easy to envision an entire world. Perhaps too easy—maps often destroy through their creation. They are a barbaric art, or an art used for politics and propaganda (like all art).”
siren / fallen amid the rocks / splash song rises / above waves / crashes the ships / to be a siren in the modern age / wring the inner self out / seduce / seduce / cut loose the ropes of righteousness / let loose the bottled cords of cornsilk hair / leave no mystery but the voice / vox angelica / vox humana / quiet now / quiet / lure with silence / ‘til death departs // the daughters of the old rivers had names / but she / is alias / nameless for her body’s light / her singing / wrung out from the sea / plumes plucked of youth / lost to the Muses’ winning forms / heralds now / of the coming storms
in the pain / the pleasure’s in the pain / in the pills / in the wanting / to be the one / who brings the pleasure / to him / to the world // she meta-morphed / dyed her hair / cinched her dress / red lips / poised for the world to watch / the wind raise her white sails // beacon of pleasure-sex / though what pleasure was hers / oh, she’s good at what she does, they said / then one day / the siren of the modern age / died from what she became
spite wife / strife wife // monarch of marriage steadfast / where is her husband now / in pop-song nymphs who forget her / how the old wives remember / the deception / the rape / they split her / into shame / into rage / split her like sky / from earth / oh fresh nymphs could you rise like this queen / oh men // where is her husband / but in the river nymphs / in the wood nymphs / in the sirens’ streaming screens / of moaning light // this wife knows better than to fight / makes his other women pay the plight // god queen / Time’s seed / sea-king sister / already loyal / already royal / already never free // to keep the peace between them / his other women pay the price / but the sea's rarely calm / and goodness too can be a vice
mothers / helmsmen of the prophecies / tether and release / the sails / your daughter’s blown off course / the winds of cruelty rise // he used her kindness to trick her / her obedience keeps her still as no tide / in the center of the sea // tell her of the skies / fathers of the world / born from chaos / ex nihilo / bound / to you, creatrices / to the virtues of the cosmos / tell her / there is always sky with earth / death with birth / hate with love / wicked with good // the myth Time’s blade made them separate / is false // stay the blown off course a while / hear the sirens’ song of sadness / which sounds at first a song of gladness / for its allure / for men / they will neither love nor see again // sail to the nymph’s ancient island / she, grey and spurned / he, to home and wife returned // love blooms like fruit and turns rotten / how our women have forgotten
fill the odyssey’s lacuna / we know / the Good Book is missing / some pages // crawler in the ropes / tie the knots good and tight / hope is no light / no shield against lightning’s strike // tell the lie good and white / there is no other way / when he returns / he’ll test she’s right / and true / that none but he will do // she’ll play so kindly / that it's cruel / and with her covert armies rule / the fool
good woman / good wife / good queen / good grief / a wheelhouse has room for only one // lonely one / let the map fly / to the wind / abandon ship / swim // the water's warm / the shore is clear / there is no charted woman here
/ˈɛkoʊ/; Greek: Ἠχώ, Ēkhō, "echo", from ἦχος (ēchos), "sound"
Arrest. Arrest. Breath and time halt. A wren sings out to a canyon. No response but echo. A woman in the canyon stands clear, a heartbeat in her ears, for what? Not another love song. Not another sonic boom. Not another ancient myth that surges through to flat-line. We’ve flat-lined. Who loves any more? Who ever did? Take a lesson from the heart, Narcissus: it gives; it takes; it regenerates. Take a lesson from the heart, Echo: it is the sound of itself again and again and again. But, yes, arrest. Arrest when she hears his name. Arrest when they embrace. Arrest when he sees her dress rise in the wind as wings. Arrest when his face disappears. Arrest when her voice goes clear. Vanity love. Mannered love. No. She wants the blood love of oxygen, the electric record of touch. Physical love. Passionate love. Her heart’s four chambers blued with birdsong. The wren sings to itself in the canyon. Yes, another love song. Yes, another sonic boom. Yes, another ancient myth that surges, scourges, and dies. Woman in the canyon calls out, her heart beats inside her fear: no response but echo. No echo.
When our colleague and friend died two weeks ago, we hoped he didn't know what had happened. We hoped it was quick, and if not quick then easy. But what is death if we are not aware that it's happening? The eyes' static fade, the final -hale as the heart's drum stops, as the ears pound with sounds of a world still breathing all around us. At what point did he let the thread of his consciousness unravel from the body? Is it like dreaming, the mind-body becoming a wisp of warm sight that moves freely? We hoped he didn't know what had happened, but I hope he did. I hope for the bright clairvoyance of planes beyond this one because in this one death is treated like disease and the deceased like meat. In this one, the body's a slab, bagged and hauled away. Only the spiritual light candles for his soul. Only the mystics make offerings to ease his transition. Only individuals, not the cultural as one, believe death is transition. Only the believers figure the spirit, soul, essence, consciousness, the anima--of this man, of all men--lives on. Now, his body bagged, hauled away, examined, and burned, he might know. He might not.