Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Here's a poem of mine:

Means of Production, and Behind the Stove is my Heart

and why not as easy as if these words
were tea leaves curled in a tea box, and time
were all it took, and some fire, and a kettle
for form, to give the water heat
but not the heat water, just a little
form, an old pyrex one, say, the one
your grandfather threw out
his bubbe’s copper samovar for, and then
a porcelain knockoff beauty, round and high, a little
more form, just enough
to hold a scalding and then
the dry leaves as your readied sea of boil
drowns them young again, floating open, easy
as you once were, thinking words were

I used part of the qigong I practice to structure this poem: that is, to begin the (sitting) form, one warms up the lower belly first. This serves a sort of 'alchemical' function, allowing the energy/qi one gathers from the universe to be properly cultivated/'cooked'/melded with one's own personal energy. The lower abdomen is seen as the residence of 'water', and the heart-region of 'fire' and bringing fire to the lower is akin to heating water. 'Yi' (intention) is the bringer of the fire: and a clear semiconscious mind is best, easy, focussed gently on the lower abdomen in conjunction with certain imagery and breathing. (In the Dao De Ching, there is a passage which states, roughly, that 'softness' is the quality of life, 'brittleness' of death.)

Further, one of the processes of qigong is to attain a qi-state akin to that one was born with. So somehow I was trying to bring this wonderfully optimistic and self-sustaining practice to an American history, one where one's past has been overturned and trashed for generations, and words are convolutions not even reliable origins. Untangling one's own physio-psycho-energetic history is, as poesis, in line with untangling one's own linguistic-historical-ethnic history (i reference Ulysses for a fine example).

This is just a bare outline, but I hope it makes the point. I think I've been coherent. Anyway, the people who have read this poem seem to appreciate/like it, even without knowing what gives it its structure. It is a 'vital' (note to self: write out some on your use of this word 'vital' in the future) structure, so I don't think a reader would need to to feel the poem as alive, if it works.

Anyway, I thought it might be worth noting what I have, as a way for me to start talking about qigong and daoism, inre: health and poetry, in the blog.

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