Monday, November 25, 2019

Sylvie and a Note in the Street

Could she be  Sylvie?

No she was  Nancy, one of the
 duane-michals reflections on aging.

as this blogger was turning fifty.

Hotpot soup and a scene from

While my friends were out doing activism, 
I was looking at  the sunset. 

Exploring lights and color on the water.
Peter Hujar Hudson River

Walking home from dropping off the little one.
A crisp fall in Brooklyn.
Leaves on the sidewalk.
Blue skies.
Trash piles on the street.
Papers strewn about.
Pieces of lives.
Residue from the night before.
A stranger outside the house from a dream
Wake up Ben, you are screaming.
The little one lost in Rome.
She’s gone.
Every night, the dream notebook gets thicker.
Sitting by my bedside. 
There were others,
a notebook lost on a road trip,
biking from this coast to that. 
A note flying down the street.
Kids out selling cookies, chalking on the sidewalk,
A paper left behind.
Blue writing:
“-10:00 Sylvie
“-10:30 Pray
“-11:30 Read
“-12:00-1230 Lunch
“3:00 Sylvie”
Who brought her?
Was she a part of the dreams?
Flowing out, strewn  in the trash.
Memories and reminders.
I only know one Sylvie,
a French-American writer living in Brooklyn.
Think of her in my old life in New York.
Haven’t seen her in years.
But I’m not sure this is her.
Of course, there is Sylvia,
The novelist my daughter loves.
But I’m not sure this is her.
She died years ago.
Messages from the street.
Not sure what the note means:
Sylvie at 10,
Pray at 10:30
Lunch at 11:30
Read at 12
3 back to Sylvie?
If only I knew Sylvie?
Or the person who dropped off the note?
How was it at 3?
I wonder how it went.
Riding past the cemetery.
Through Sunset Park.
Past the Sea Witch Bar.
Wondering if Sylvie is there. 
Another body in Greenwood Cemetery?
Past the kids in the playground?

Out to the city,
Seeing Sylvie everywhere.
In every conversation.
Every hypothetical.
Every classroom.
We all come from different places.
But we all breathe.
Remembering, repeating, and working through. 
I’m triggered.
They are.
We are.

Up to Madison Ave,
Where Stanley is reviewing One Dimensional Man.
We’ve read it together many times before.
The proletariat is shifting.
If you have a theoretical perspective,
You can think and describe.
You don’t have to have facts.
You have events.

Formal logic counts on reason.
Symptoms and appearances.

Frankfurt School,
A post Marxism.
Why still be a Marxist?
Frankfurt School too pessimistic.
They talk culture, language, and psychology.
But what about poetry?
There is a dirty secret about Patterson, says Stanley.
William Carlos Williams was a dialectical materialist.

Why be a communist?
With a  lower case c.
Not a Stalin upper case C.
Commune is about community.
Who are part of it?
We all  are.
An ever expanding multitude.
Everyone, Sylvie, everyone.
Naming that which are part of it.
That is the task of the poet.

Who was Sylvie?
Freedom ontological
Was she free?
A poem?
A verse?
An angel?
Writing with crayons.
Its still prodigious.
With something still.

Read the Dialectical Biologist, advises Stanley.
We all are.
Dialectics help us look at change.
Contradictions & labor.
No one can escape living a dialectical existence.
Whitman contradicts,
Writing  poetry and working on  houses.
What’s Whitman’s  contradiction,  asks Stanley.
Referring to a queer sensibility he did not see
when he read those Leaves of Grass when he  was 14.
“Maybe I didn’t read it closely?”
Looking at essence and appearance,
Water and light, motion and movements,
 “Existing as the living contradiction between essence and appearance,”
Marcuse saw it.
Dialectics colliding,
Poetry pointing us outside,
Conveying the negative.
If you want to be a secure person,
Do not take a secure job.
Did Sylvie?
What  of the  person taking care of her?
Did she write poems.
Walt worked, thought, wrote, and flipped houses.

Leonard Cohen knows
“ there is a crack in everything…”
In the sidewalk, with the green weeds
Pushing their way up through the pavement.
“that's how the light gets in…”

Cracks of refusal.
People working together.

Emancipation of wage labor
Was Sylvie free?

What is the job?
What is her future, her past?

How can people resist

What are the horrors, the traumas of her past?
What fears does she carry?
Does she repeat?
The dreams?
The nightmares?
The hopes…

The morning light in  Laramie.
That  Matthew  saw all those years ago.
The cold blood in  Holcomb, Kansas?

Is she an organizer?
Will she be a Norma Rae?
Was she?
Bringing about a great refusal?

Will she give up on negative thinking?
Can she do it slow?

Can she help us imagine?

Lead affinity groups rethinking communities.

Re imagine mutual aid.

Re think freedom.

Democracy is chains.
There is no adequate response to the charge, you’re fired.

Find a real meaningful struggle,
For a new workspace?
Will she?

Make an appearance in this “insubstantial  pageant…”
Navigating a world of spirits,
Prospero among them.

I  walk into  Judson.
Homeless guys sitting on the steps,
Avoiding the rain.
Sleeping on  the stairs.
Sitting  in the back  pew. 
A man to my left writing notes.
Its ok  to jot down a line  or two  from the bulletin.
I do every week.
Sylvie reminds me.
He lives in a car in queens.
Teaching in  high school. 
Wandering in from the rain. 
I don’t know where to put them,
He tells me.
Submit there here,
I suggest giving him a copy of my Poetry magazine.

She accompanies  me to see
charcoal portraits of John Singer Sargent, hanging at the Morgan library
I recall looking at Peter Hujar black and white  photos.
Was she his subject?

Artists and illuminations,
things seen and not seen.

At the museum,  
a boy fell into an  enchanted melancholy,
god knows we've all been  there.

Duane Michals saw:
“Our lives just one  moment… a breath imagined…”
All at once, altogether the same…

We walked through the show,
Words and images
“…Come close so  I can whisper things I do not understand…” pleads Michals.
Black and white photographs,
Chance glances.
A look here.
A backward glance there.
Fateful connections.  
Queer moments.

“Perhaps everything possible has already happened?”
Odd moments,
Juxtapositions of light.
“And our  lives  are a slow remembering of long forgetting?”
Mom left him in the shoe store.
Then Dad left.
“I know that he is never coming  back…”

Maybe Sylvie was a sailor?
Fighting, finding something along the waterfront.
“To jump, to get a hardon, to dance: to be alive”
Jean  Genet understood it all with Querelle.
“When  we see life,  we call it beautiful.
When we see death, we call it ugly,
But it is more beautiful to see oneself living at great speed,
Right up to the moment of one’s death.” 

Looking at art all afternoon.
Riding the train back home.
Was she there?
Sitting across from me on the train?
Or had she gone somewhere  else?
Navigating with the demeans,
The homeless.
The hustlers reciting soliloquies for a buck.
Amongst the damaged.
The wounds.
The scene of the crime.
A talisman.
A love object.
The old familiar.
Keeping  me up all night.
When I need  to sleep.
Something else but the better angels of our nature.
A feeling inside,
A violence bubbling.
Like a witches caldron.
From deep inside.
I run  from as she begins to  appear
An old dream.
An uncontrollable urge.
Trying to beat her back.
Was she always there?
Lurking on the subway.
Up all night.
A multitude, 
Filling my dream notebooks.
Walking out into the
Sunset on Smith street?

A  Cannibal Girl returns home.

Stanley on Marcuse

Stanley and the Cannibal Girls. 

An art outing. 


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