Friday, August 24, 2012
Into the Blind World (part two), by Barry McKinnon
ascent beckons as the descent beckoned
/ now measured by measure of endurance equal to its challenge
who in hell do you think you are?
in what is ahead by truth or verisimilitude:
we will not
come this way again. the shadow you cast is the past/passed by
heaps / memories rubble weightless – a flash
flesh once loved /now thot lost -
to the promise you made in the weak sense of what desire it was to be
attained. the flesh again/ the only light
it’s hope; driven to its source ( our shadow cast to the shadowy
figures who beg to ask to think we know
our time. wasted steps? is all now
direction in what seemed directionless? – thus:
one foot/ the other
diminished hope yet hope still
when darker it gets – now determines how we go
we met along the way: their time now spent as burden & weight /for the energy they consumed
we travel as a secret to re enter the world/ a reverse to those
who judge – & become what they protest
the cowards cowering for all to be correct/ self righteousness their present
defeat when our presence brings them forth
the mountain is still beyond. sun as ... what it reveals - contours of what
it is to be sad along the ridge shaken by a sense of a complex/ simplified
by what we can not say.
oh well, a sigh to the spring still left ... our steps
closer to what is sought - the image of impossibility to
become a shape – the female form that waits
in this same anticipation
yet this want to erase what we thrive upon, this unrequited sense that drives
me on. consummations of self, to reverse the nether world made to unfold what
the mountain is
the self -
the shadow of its weight inside
/out to form its tangible light - to form & divine -
the divisive self?
- as when this dark defines its light /escapes from those it shields. we saw
them in all their forms: the mountains of self/ the consequence of ego &
what rids us of it:
sorrow amends pride to humility:
as in the dream – I hurled myself to snow. martyred, petulant –
her refusal condemned me. I trudged thru snow
snow/ to a darker globe /beneath pins of stars
blind/beggars propped in a unison of disbelief – a kind of horror to recognize
their condition: terminal cases / envious. we pass them by. if I cared
I cared / was spared / was them
to bear / & refuse my temptation for delight
I was defined
by those I describe: the brutes
- their domain remains/defined by those they exile. those exiled /no place to go
blackballed to a powerless misery. then all gets beaten. the beater, the beaten
the godforsaken industrial ditch I vow I never lived in.
stare ahead: the distance up & down / me / healed by pain I thot
defeated me. did it make me? or in this defeat I saw more – a perplexity of all thot known
thrown out the window. I wanted some outside to reach me/ to reverse
the repel of the magnet force of what closest seen - seem
in the opaque light I’m guideless
in the blinding smoke
the blind world again
– this path/
our crooked gait - to trace what’s
distance & ascent in mist & veil
what is our source and aim?
who’s forgiveness will erase ...
all I rued
- could not see or find or vent, relieve my sense of diminished time
my impatience – these thin cracks
... this fog, the mountains, the hummocks
thinned and blue – literal/ wordless
must see myself
or be a fool as the illusionists
who cast us out
love / now crippled – wrecked (by proportion to its
to disappear – /leave us from the
dark or blinding light?
mist / veil stone
I become separate by the sadness that makes me
this gloomy face hoping
in this weight to pierce
illusion - & when it real to know
& then be lifted from this gloomy spot:
my stingy heart went out
was their stinginess revealed
a hole opens space for love’s return?
this dark sky ripped to another dawn –
light and dark disengage
so we see the weary self again?
our shadows over
shadows / hear voices from the starved
in wonder of what their grief is worth – worthless
their wasted days – the flat/meaningless world without an object
of desire. this is what I grieve - & fear: I must become
the guide - in the unreciprocal world, yet be worthy of its grief.
my hope /
lachrymose – a deluge
the loss – what one had, never had?
me no longer me?
I’m barely tethered
by dimming light - my measure of time
- a road with out impediment to some final light to confirm
the seduction seemed
meaningless/remembered for its exhaustion
- that threw me
further into what I cld not redeem
I learned opposites. refusal as action
silence its speech.
lost to be found again? held that time would let me go
in what knowing we’d be
if we knew time ahead exists as we hope it now:
a brighter path / the crooked world
loathing what I had to enter
my restraint not equal to what it needed -
my fear sent me further -
what was it
you saw sent you –
into the world
nowhere to nowhere
to what you thot not meant
amidst the fire, buzzards, beasts & this blind ascent to breaking light ahead
Part Two is jagged meditation prompted by various lines from Dante’s The Divine Comedy: Purgatory, translated by Dorothy L. Sayers. As in Part One, I’ve left out literal details or reference to the various characters being punished for their various sins, or the specific imagery of Dante’s ascent into purgatorio’s mountain landscape; instead, I wanted to get to some measure of my own thought and experience via fragments/statements, or as Robin Blaser said - a “reopening of words” - to let them go their own way - & to be ahead of any thinking that might hold them back. The task & pleasure was not to immediately understand what was written, but to sense what I hoped, a kind of frayed truth about my own emotional life and experience. I wanted the abstracted language/ loops to contain and reveal contradictions, ironies, cruelties, & various forms of human folly anyone with eyes open will perceive daily in the present world. Another task with the writing: to avoid the presumption that one is exempt from the various conditions described: “the world is blind /And thou are of it”(Canto xvi). The presumption was to enter the beauty of Dante’s knowledge and truth as the basis for whatever inspiration I was given in an attempt to speak within the themes of exile and desire.
Dante in the last Purgatorio Canto xxxiii is renewed, and again, as in Hell Canto xxxiii he is “Pure and prepared to leap up to the stars”. In both Part One (and Two here) I make no reference to “stars” but I do repeat the phrase “light ahead” to indicate the onward journey.
the ascent beckons/ as the descent beckoned is a variation of the first line in William Carlos William’s poem “The Descent.”
“what was it/you saw sent you – /into the world/packing” is a slight variation of lines written in a notebook by poet Katia Grubisic during a conversation in the Arc Lounge in Ottawa (March 2012).
My conversations with artist/poet/teacher Graham Pearce prompted other thoughts/lines/considerations.
Barry McKinnon [photo by Red Shuttleworth, Moses Lake WA, spring 2012] was born in 1944 in Calgary Alberta, where he grew up. In 1965, after two years at Mount Royal College, he went to Sir George Williams University in Montreal and took poetry courses with Irving Layton. He graduated in 1967 with a B.A. degree. In 1969, he graduated with an M.A. from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and was hired that same year to teach English at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George where he has lived and worked ever since.
Barry McKinnon’s The the was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for poetry in 1080. Pulp Log was the winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Award for the B.C. Book Prizes in 1991 and Arrhythmia was the winner of the bpNichol Chapbook Award for the best chapbook published in Canada in English in 1994. His chapbook Surety Disappears was the runner-up for the bpNichol Award in 2008.
His most recent trade collections include In the Millennium (Vancouver: New Star, 2009) and The Centre: Poems 1970-2000 (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2004). above/ground press published the first section of this poem as Into the Blind World (above/ground press, 2012).