Michael Leong

from The Philosophy of Decomposition / Re-composition as Explanation: A Poe and Stein Mash-up

We are now approaching the other shore, overstepping curiosity and its circumscription as the tackle for scene-shifting is being remotely prepared. But the intended locale kept terminating at a continuous point — and, by the pure force of induction, I would have been carried out way too far. I was carried directly above nations of nothing, thrown by some intelligent being made of physical thought into the deceased soul of the known.

As a literary character in a popular novel, I could nearly taste the reconciliation of poetry and prose. I was preparing to book a maiden course through a prolonged and vivid confusion, to bore clear through the lying heart of history. I was to put pen to paper while submitting to the nightly violence of a word storm:

                         time and again
the beauty
of all
or the beauty
of nothing

by little

a something
makes it
so much more

to perceive
the sorrow
the certain
the air
of the

and there
precision error
points to

books that
of the innumerable
that truth demands
the upper
limit or
contemplation wrought

it appeared to me
in the middle
of the rhythm
fantastic phase
the construction
and changes
the meaning

o note within
in pursuance of
a source
not known
bring me

a brief tone
from the monotone

in accordance
no one

If you think over the beautiful yet irrelevant connection that was before us — that is using an immediate analysis aided by indispensable principles of bird power — you will come to know elaborately different ideas of the world — as if it were already represented from a point in time rendered rare and sonorous.

But no more of romanticism. Once the remembrance of the thing settled, the vivid detail inside the mind became unvaried and clear.

To tell the truth, I was doing my best just keeping up with the rapidity of the raven. From year to year, it always comes to some furnished place to flirt with its mistress, but this time I had to go in a different direction, completely out of the elaborated frame — I was going through ominous patches of homeliness, above antagonistic interpolations, on elevating steps of varying length, over and behind the continuous construction of a bad action scene — until, at last, I saw it drop an array of lines that might surpass the obvious burden: the melancholy of once upon a time.

[Note: These sections come from a larger book-length work called The Philosophy of Decomposition / Re-composition as Explanation, which is a mash-up/cut-up/collage of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Philosophy of Composition” and Gertrude Stein’s “Composition as Explanation.” All words from the text are derived from only those two essays.]

Michael Leong is the author of two books of poetry — e.s.p. (Silenced Press, 2009) and Cutting Time with a Knife (Black Square Editions/The Brooklyn Rail, forthcoming) — and a translation of the Chilean poet Estela Lamat, I, the Worst of All, which was published by BlazeVOX [books] in 2009. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Action, Yes; Double Room; Hotel Amerika; jubilat; Lana Turner; Opium Magazine; and Tin House. He is currently a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University and lives in New York City.
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