20100116

Jane A. Lewty


from Field Manual

1. a)
to begin an experiment. Well. Open The Mouth. In resurrective quiet. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Chapter XXII, it is told that the corpse must be empowered to throw off his bandages, through the anointing of unguents and to speak in the underworld as he wanders. He must possess literate power— a mouth drawn tightly    cannot utter crucial formulas such as “I am the master over myself and over the attributes of my head”      cannot move from real absence to a half-wakened consciousness
                               The first thing the revived corpse wants to know is the whereabout of his missing body, who he is (he is the “nobody present”)    and where is the solar bark that will carry him through Amenti, the land of souls, the intermediate place into the second life.

                                                                            Anam [a riddle: “I am not” or “when is a man not a man? When is a man/soul not alive?”] Anam namaba anamaba        has not yet found his way; merely has the mouth opened      sees the fadeless sky be-rayed        hears the funeral liturgy, “be thy mouth given to thee”

                                                                         Numinously renewed “Nu-Man” regains the extinguished capacity to speak, is sensible of his heartbeat.

Nunavut comprises a major portion of Northern Canada (its largest and newest territory) and most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Nunavut encompasses the geographically largest part of the Inuit world (not counting the uninhabitable Greenland ice shield), and includes large mainland areas and numerous islands (a scatter of islands, a mouth emit    emitting     a dissolve    ) divided by rivers, straits, Hudson Bay, and areas of ocean that only freeze for parts of the year.     It has great internal dialect diversity. The concept of reincarnation is enshrined in the Inuktitut/Inuit language.     Like other Eskimo-Aleut systems, it has a very rich morphological system, in which a succession of different morphemes are added to root words to indicate things that, in languages like English, would require several words to express, and three manners of articulation: voiceless stops, voiced continuants and nasals, as well as two additional sounds — voiceless fricatives.     Lower lip against the teeth     non-entity    unobserved    felt    sssssssssss    air through a narrow channel



1. b)

Nunavut: the opening of the mouth—-

a territory in the north, “our land”                                               (Inuit)
or your land the inert      clawed trail in you
a dawn chorus canada, hey Saturday sun

—-is the nullity felt by a dead man, in the fetter of sheets
lifted from a wandering space

from the great sleep with its mountain range
and ocean to pass

where your real name your language gets lost
in sleepily dead, the terror of great sleep
is a mouth close by death, fluidly drifting

and then unswathed, untied
                                                                            by settlers
                                                                            by priests
who leave confusion in the threads

one-spa/the two-spa the cannot speak “space”/come to light
incrementally
                                              recollectible
is the gold
boat widening over the head (from your land to mine)
stop
stutterfaring tongue can——now——recite out of absence
into a middle
                     an interval
and say amentia, beautiful word
                               how a message cannot get through
amentia a lack
                                  of mind when your real name
is lost
in cosmography in symbol
in a passageway                                                                        (area of primal breakdown between)


Of breakdown:


2. a)

— standing with pioneers
                                              with the emerita
as an insect whose worldwide grasp on a junkyard desk has gone, I hear—

I heard so much, still hear gutterperch/ballata
gauze tempering, non-conducting ground      or “bad earth”
busy jack/datajack\at the central exchange
                     ever calling
in “some third thing, some medium” said James Clerk Maxwell                               (1890)

from body to body, how William Crookes found a lumin-if-er-ous ether                (1892)
or “some more subtle substance”
for his radiometer, made of metal vanes
blackened on one side, bright on the other

revolving in a bulb of glass,
where the air is worn down and round
to radiant heat

& crack of cerusite/lead
for the inner device                all devices: Coherer (rods and cones)
transmitter (skeleton)
the history of sound travel, namely death, namely
zinc wire coil &
what it did:

“what you are hearing now is NOT my voice”      said Bernard Shaw/said Goethe (through a machine)
a remodelled throat in a room
caught the traces of me
in right & left swing of a needle                a bloodless scratch, phonograph

is the poem brought back to its proper end
you write by consolation

                    here is what you tried to restore      “in person”             (inscription a limitless trope in
                                                                                                                                 that all sounds living or dead are equally
                                                                                                                                                              duplicated on a surface
)

Circuit, circuitous, my larynx will only admit
the frequency escaped from it.
                    I hear


2.b)

caught by cocteaus with discs and switch
a voice in absentia
                    Or dictating
behind a sheet of frosted glass
the calm announcer, big calm
in locus solus: alone
Edison flung to atoms by his last machine                                                                   (1921)
                                       and people awaited a word
from where he was
in the beyond
for—-the come here, I want you, I do not own you, I miss you
in the pain of long distance
the tumult at work in our silence. What the wind puts to flight
across the land

is      “just for you” —    that means “all” of you       in radio
in scripture, in science
                                                celestial
                                                                             the first dip of copper wires
                                                                             in the Channel
and what it brought—-
from the interrim      the interstice.

Anyone. Any.

and bad as it sounds, a telling, a forecast.




Jane A. Lewty is British, and formerly a tenure-track professor of literature. She's edited a couple of books and has a number of academic publications in print, some reviews and a few poems. She graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop last May.

 
 
 
 
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