Sunday, August 10th, the night I gave a reading with Patrick Durgin at 21 Grand, was a particularly warm night in Oakland. 21 Grand appears to be a former warehouse with virtually no ventilation, so in between readings most of the audience went outdoors for the cool air and some conversation. I was aware of this when I read so I cut my reading short. Tonight I remembered which poem it was I did not read and it seemed apt to choose this one not to read and also to post it now.
Automatic Manifesto #10 (The Unspoken)
1. Despite the unimaginable extent of what is said and what has ever
been said, the largest part of experience remains unspoken. As much as
what has long been understood maps or delimits only a small portion of
what life deems out to us every day, the unspoken persists like a
constellation of black holes in being and those that know it laugh (inside) at
every confident assertion. Don't speak of death, whose words figure largest
in the silent tomes in all the empty libraries of time. Older even than the
history of death, the unspoken longed, more than anything else, to speak,
but it can't find a place or a context to be heard. Yielding to the opaque,
wrapping itself in hidden hieroglyphs of being, incredibly the unspoken is
thought about more than anything else. A strange juxtaposition ensues. The
spoken and articulated universe somehow divides itself away from the
unknowable, or the unnameable, which turns towards otherwise
incommunicable stretches of being harboring unfathomable waters of
irrationality. The unspoken, shocked at its sudden physical disappearance,
simultaneous with its entrance into thought, like an enormous stone
monument suddenly vanished, learns a poem can carve a place for it with
words along some otherwise untracked corridors of being.
2. The louder we speak, the louder the unspoken rings in our minds. The
more clearly we articulate the known, the more insistently the unknown
asserts itself. The same is true for certainty. Here come the dynamics of
gravity, predictably hugging at our feet; a longing ensues: an unstoppable
wish to fly. Soon we are vaulting into the sky like flocks of birds, only to
find ourselves ever more vulnerable to the featureless, deadly pull of the
If we are very observant for considerable lengths of time we might
detect a miniscule figure gesticulating weirdly in our direction, in some
kind of sign language or code that looks impossible to decipher. Go on, go
gaze at its faintly familiar expressions. It's my old friend the unspoken
making faces at me. The problem is- the translations were vague. The
mistake was to believe immediately what I imagined these odd shapes said.
True, they spoke more emphatically when I gestured back. They said, keep
going-but that isn't what I meant. But thanks for listening and
trying to understand. Thanks for tuning in. And then it goes away. So, get
out of bed, drink tea, shower, read the mail and leave. What was that and
so on.Then, what they were signalling comes back like a dream. But
something distantly understood is often what I forgot. It says: watch for
deceit, ringing so untrue. It said: same old story, deconstruct its face-
impassive as a god. It said: this was a breeze. It said: relax. Its mouth made
an O. The O said: take it. Then the spirit made a face. Easy to forget,
easier to misinterpret. It said: don't go quickly. It said: explosions. It said:
take measure. It said: embarassment hurt. It said: be kind. It said: missiles.
It said: interruptions. It said: film. It said: untranslateable. It folded into
lines and sentences. It melted into subjects. It said: include. It said: a moving
photo. Amorphous nostalgia. It said: go slowly. But I sped by. I
heard it over, I heard it under the din. It mentions what it twists.
Transitions come and go. Transitions twist like streams, then rivers
wrap around each other. Transitions live, they live to tell the tale, a
changed entity. They began as yellowing sheets in boxes.
Transitions matter. The require a code of make-believe. It said: fake it.
It led me to Orwell's flophouse. Bad history: he died in 1984.
Transitions lie. They lurk. Evelopes of sheer causality, link by link
they chain careers to fate. Faces in a shroud. Transitions hibernate. They
Parenthetical transitions. It said: to muster. Hypotenuse of vague
considerations and geometrical assessment, transitions animate mispellings
as a kind and gentle friend.
Transitions's symptoms, going from separation to degree, bad history
again, a professor's working hard creating lists. Transition's decisions,
transition's acquaintances, transition's movements, feelings, touch.
Prohibitado. Muy amore transitionado. Dense arrangements. It said: the
slippery slope. It said: reminders.
Transition's voices. It said: attend. It said, attend a person but within
this person is a word, within the word a wish. This inspires a shiver down
Transition's holiday, its frame, its villains, its escapes. Selectable
locales. Transition's refusal to reveal the outcome of the tale. It said: this is
conditional. Then it pointed. The direction was not in 4 dimensions.
Paradigmatic paradoxical disjunctions. It said: be literal. It said: hear me in
the manifest. It said: I am a vapor that can move.