Eileen R. Tabios

(a novella-in-prose poems)

Chapter 7

Someone thought: Because color is a narrative, each becomes difficult to achieve without adulteration. The world is more likely to be muddled than seamless. No one likes to recognize how the lines on the color wheel fail their straight barricades so that color is dirty rather than pure. Nonetheless, c’est la vie. It is what it is. The challenge then becomes mustering the fortitude, to paraphrase Jasper Johns’ words, to see the thing as it is. When color is a narrative, truth lies deeper than the subjective proposals of perception—this also is how happiness becomes difficult to trust. Add “nodus tollens” to your vocabulary: “the realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.”

Chapter 8

Someone thought: There was a story that ruptured its narrative. The fragments flew far and wide at distances measured by starlight so that they transgressed into several parallel universes. What broke could not be repaired—what an old story. Despite the grace of healing scars with liquid gold, Kintsugi is a compromise. Some fragments were able to fit themselves into different stories. Some fragments remained floating in a void and pretended the surrounding space were deliberate caesuras for creating poems. Some fragments transformed from theory to solids: from clubs, axes, and swords to intercontinental ballistic missiles. Solidified as objects, the fragments became weapons. Shards are rarely transformed into benign sweet pea blossoms. Nonetheless, as weapons the fragments could be lovely—like a knife’s handle embossed with tiny translucent aquamarines beaming under a sunlit sky whose color the gems mirrored into the most gorgeous word to contain the last letter of the English alphabet: azure.

Chapter 9

Someone thought: Pundits are announcing: “The future battlefield is a drone battlefield.” It took a machine to accomplish what too many humans could not—the vision to grasp the huge terrain of context as well as the miniatures of specifics. Thus, we floundered towards conclusions without knowing whether the end will be synonymous with truth. Other pundits have wronged us with the bromide of the path towards a goal mattering more than the goal. To be human is not necessarily to narrow fate—we don’t have to choose among false binaries. It’s just that the ideal exacts a price. How do you create a small fortune in winemaking? You start with a large fortune. Most of us are born without fortunes, but most of us survive and many of us thrive. One of the cruelest of fates is to die anonymously. But many of us thrive. Many are counted and their stories become archetypal music. Listen and you will hear the fall of silver drops from Pythagoras’ harmony of the spheres. Add no more words to your vocabulary—simply, Listen.

Chapter 10

Someone thought: In end days, skies lie. How often, after all, has Nabokov’s “false azure in the windowpane” smashed birds into expired bullets when they’d hoped to soar for a color’s lovely narrative? How often, after all, does danger camouflage itself as beauty? See the hillside covered with white dandelions. The focus is captured by the pleasantry of flowers when the hillside’s profile should be privileged. The profile is a horizon hiding what threatens from beyond the visible. The knight might be white or black. The night might lack stars to become camouflage. Because the matter at hand involves humanity, the only element guaranteed is violence—at its worst, a violent war that historians ironically will judge as a necessary reset to prevent humans from strangling the planet; at its best, passion’s violent encounter amidst twisted bedsheets whose precursor was a tender and soft kiss. Kiss: a sheen blossoms across skin. Though the world has become a place where the sky often lies, rarely do we consider the merits of violence, unless we are professionally visionary spies.

Chapter 11

Someone has thought: Feeling invisible is often associated with eroding self-esteem or self-confidence. A marriage fails and the ex-wife suddenly pauses overlong before any passed mirror—it’s not to channel Narcissus but to verify she isn’t an unimportant presence in her own life. But invisibility also carries positive effects, for instance while conducting spy missions. You want to avoid the enemy’s hidden sniper. On the other hand, if you are the sniper, invisibility calms your heartbeat, breath, eye, hand, and trigger finger. Invisibility is also a desired superpower beyond battlefields. We don’t want to avoid the world, but we want to live in a world where safety is not alien. To be invisible is to avoid being targeted though you remain in community to avoid being alone. To be alone is not healthy, but to be invisible is the ability to avoid the danger that inevitably exists because others exist, especially when we are all living in end days. In a dying world, keep an eye on idealists: “there’s one in every crowd.” Certain idealists refuse to sacrifice the largeness of life made possible by vulnerability. Certain idealists insist on the relevance of community. Yet the lovely bluebird with lovely yellow feathers and lovely red beak smashed against glass. It flew its tender body to meet other fragile birds on the other side of a transparent wall it made visible through dripping blood.

Chapter 12

Someone thought: Some people aren’t supposed to laugh. It’s not because they’ve suffered, though that can be part of it. It’s not because they’re lonely, though that can be part of it. It’s not because they’re under intense pressure, though that can be part of it. It’s not because ______________—fill in the blank—though that can be part of it. It’s because they see the sky and believe it to be freedom. It’s because they see a diamond ring and believe happiness becomes guaranteed. It’s because they see a rainbow and believe pots are simmering gold. According to science, the more that a person engages in self-deception, the less likely that person will laugh long and intensely: “since humor often involves seeing life or a person from a novel angle and self-deception tends to reduce such angles, self-deception will reduce one’s sense of humor,” sayeth sociobiologist Robert Trivers. Some people aren’t supposed to laugh because they can’t afford the price of lucid self-awareness—that’s an old story. Thus, humans create histories best left forgotten if attention requires wallowing with their feeble-minded authors. Better to sleep with madness. Madness can redeem itself by adding new words to humanity’s vocabulary. Like “nympholepsy.” Like “fury.” Like “folly.” Like that most divine madness of all that Plato discerned: “poetry.”

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Blogger Thaddeus said...

I think this is great. Thank you.

3:37 AM  

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