THREE POEMS BY
A butterfly wing
Grazes your cheek
Two thousand years
L'aile de papillon
Effleure votre joue
Deux mille ans
El ala de la mariposa
Roza tu mejilla
Mientras se desplaza
A dos mil años
Star in a Manboat
In the house of stars
You wait in darkness for a white horse
Subverted by the geography of rational need
Like the softness of a mid-morning shoulder
Explained as the body with a wing
Alone with its mate of negative space:
Arriving in the heart unannounced
Traveling alone, a chest becomes a boat
You wait with a shovel
The horizon churns itself into cosmos
Blindingly pale in its love
Immune to the bliss it sets in motion
The chokingly sublime erupts
Folding rays of light into something meaty
Vibrations set invisibility alight
You knelt beside an underwater fleet
Painted the apathy of unseeing/ your spirit hovered
In the fog drawing one breath until dawn
A maiden tossing her white hair reached into you
Feeling the backwards running forward
Composing the composer
You grip the star pulling you
Underwater, past the gods demanding sacrifice
Undoing early stages
A beginning going backwards
Liquid stones blaze white heat
Memorizing the boundaries of your being
You look out the window to that spot
Burned into your chest
A flicker flew into you
At the centre of your birth was the world
Whose sun is a pale reflection
Of a longer, more protracted death
Mathematical rhythms multiply
As shades of black in Roualt’s palette
The white horse traverses eternity
Hauling your body containing a boat
Each night asking the core of the earth
How long must he memorize the universe
At first you were young
Opening the lid to a firefly’s prison
Concentric rings drawing you into a mystery
You extended your hand to write
Plotting a course within the following of an arc
Scratched by circumstance like a glass eye
I waited for my parents in the car.
They were gone so long the strip mall crumbled and collapsed.
Animals pressed their noses to the windows.
It rained for years.
The car was covered in ice.
The inside turned to wood, then clay, then stone.
The parking lot became a forest.
People in small groups walked past speaking languages I didn’t understand.
My shoes disappeared.
The car grew longer and higher.
I saw light in an opening far away.
My glasses disappeared.
I built fires.
I smeared coloured powders on my palm and stamped the walls of the cave.
I painted deer.
I ventured outside to hunt.
I met other hunters.
I ran faster than I’d ever run before.
I fed my children.
My mother woke me up with whispers. My father laughed.
I touched them. They crumbled and collapsed.
The wind carried them away.
Open Mic: What do you think is the role within human consciousness of the kinds of primal symbols in “Once Upon”, and what is the role of poetry in accessing them?
Steven McCabe: In ‘Once Upon’ the narrator travels into an evolving experience juxtaposing a parking lot with symbols of prehistory. Joseph Campbell suggests the vocabulary of symbol represents a single pictorial script. As we stare down Transhumanism and re-contextualize symbols in poetic expression perhaps it would be a good idea to have a look over our shoulder, to consider, for example, what the Druids might have done, as well as creatively experiment to recharge the concept.
OM: Bob Dylan or The Beatles?
S.M: Both! And with all the questions these 'personas' raise.
OM: What are you reading now?
S.M: I'm reading 'Keeping An Eye Open: Essays on Art' by Julian Barnes as well as an essay by Yeats called 'Magic.'
OM: “Transfiguration” appears in English, French, and Spanish. I wonder if you would say a few words about how you approach the task of translation.
S.M: Actually, Pierre L'Abbe translated the French lines and Beatriz Hausner the Spanish. The poem 'Transfiguration' features in a video poem by the same name featuring (Public Domain) silent film excerpts by the great French and Spanish filmmakers Georges Méliès & Segundo de Chomón.
OM: “The chokingly sublime erupts / Folding rays of light into something meaty”: these lines from “Star in a Manboat” dissolve the boundaries between the realms of the transcendent or luminous and the jolting weight of the flesh. Can you say a few words about how your poetry conceives of the relationship between embodiment and the world of the poetic or ideal?
S.M: It seems that Western Rationalism or Late Capitalism or Patriarchy has dictated terms to us about what ‘self’ is and what it is made of. Whoever ‘they’ are they are running a counter-intelligence or counter-intuition program to keep us from knowing Self. I can only write about what I experience in terms of feeling or knowing or thinking or imagining. Clearing away the static is a constant preoccupation.
OM: The speaker of “Star in a Manboat” describes “Concentric rings drawing you into a mystery”: what for you is the relationship of your poetry to the ineffable, to the enigmatic?
S.M: 'Star in a Manboat' was published in an anthology called Poet to Poet as a response to Robert Frost's A Star in a Stone Boat. He imagines building with, working with, and transporting the residual of fallen heavenly objects. I picture a 3-dimensional, brilliant star silently appearing in a human 'boat.' I am interested in giving voice to the process of engaging possibilities and all of the fantastical ramifications that arise within speculation or synchronicity.
OM: “Theory”, from Hierarchy of Loss, references “elementary particles” that can “leap / It seems / Across time (if there really is time)”. How is your understanding of time informed by your understanding of science, and how does that understanding inform your conception of the role of poetry in navigating the distance between the rigidity of clock time and the phenomenological fluidity of time?
S.M: In terms of science I am more than completely a layperson. My imagination is sparked, however, reading of invisible worlds within our fields of experience. In poetry one situates immediacy in timelessness. Or so it seems. It's a very organic process. The poem itself begins before the words begin and ends, if it ends, somewhere within us, or in work we do in response. So poetry is a bit like compost or the process of composting. Stages of transformation happening now but also before and after.
OM: Catherine Owen identifies Hierarchy of Loss as embodying an act of negative capability. It has been said the haiku that is 90% integrable is great, while haiku that is 60% integrable is masterful. Please share a few words about the discordance imperative, if I can put it like that, and whether for this reason the poem, rather than the novel, best suits your temperament as a writer.
S.M: When I draw or paint I am fascinated by the idea of negative space. And because I work visually within the sense of 'pre or post-perspective' (in the main) I am aware of surfaces and layering surfaces. One is always deciding what to leave out. Sometimes you leave out what you love the most. Sound is like that. You can't have everything at once. The microphone has to be aimed away from what you don't want. The novel reminds me of architecture. Poetry is closer to a dream than architecture. Of course one can say the opposite. Nobody ever said Gaudi is not dreamlike.
OM: What are you working on now?
S.M: I am slowly assembling a new poetry manuscript reflecting my Neolithic (as well as social) concerns of the last three or four years. As well, I am experimenting with various ways to turn my wordless poem Never More Together (linocut prints) into a (wide screen) video poem/ animation. I will work with a video editor after creating several hundred, or more, images in Photoshop.
WHERE: The Mykonos Restaurant at 572 Adelaide St. North, London, Ontario. The restaurant has a large, enclosed terrace just behind the main restaurant, which comfortably holds 60 poetry lovers. Mediterranean food and drinks are available. The terrace is open to the parking lot behind. Overflow parking is available across the side street and in the large lot one block north, in front of Trad’s Furniture.
WHEN: Wednesday, April 6th, 2016. Doors: 6:00 to 6:30 (It's a restaurant.) Event begins at 7:00
THE FEATURED POET: Steven McCabe will open the poetry portion of the event at 7:00.
OPEN MIC: Following the featured poet, and an intermission at 8:00 pm, open mic poets will read to as late as 10:30. Each poet has five minutes (which is about two good pages of poetry, but it should be timed at home). Sign up on the reader's list, which is on the book table at the back. It's first come, first served.
COVER: Pay What You Can (in jar on back table, or use Donate Button on website Donate Page). Your contributions are our only source of income to cover expenses.
RAFFLE PRIZES: Anyone who pays what cover they can at the event receives a ticket for a raffle prize, three of which will be picked after the intermission. The prizes consist of poetry books donated by Brick Books and The Ontario Poetry Society.
London Open Mic Poetry Night features one poet per season from outside the London, Ontario region.