The B-Sides of the Golden Records, Track Five: “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”

Before you begin, please be aware that this track does not end.

* * *

Find a large, unframed mirror. Or, if you don’t have mirrors, find something like one: smooth, flat, and reflective, with superstitions silvered in.

Beat it with the most vulnerable part of your body. If you are having trouble deciding what to use, ask yourself: what would you least want me to touch?

Continue until the mirror breaks. Then, continue until it breaks many times.

Continue until you can tell that your body part is badly hurt. Keep going. When you regain consciousness, resume.

On the sixth day, stop. Search for the brightest, clearest light you can imagine. The light should at first feel welcome, and joyous. Then, as you realize that it is slightly more garish than you would like and moreover that it never fades, it riddles your body with a ringing.

Carry each fragment, shard, and piece into this light. Do not clean the parts. Arrange them into a shape resembling the original shape of the mirror.

If you are not already naked, become naked now.

Lie on the fragments. Try not to add more injuries to your body.

Feel the light reflect into heat. As you blister, consider the way that on Earth, every night, in the absence of sunlight, tree branches move up and down so that the water inside of the trees keeps moving, creating a kind of heartbeat that is surer than any you will ever know.

Night Questions

           When does the moon turn full?

When I tell it stories of love.

           When does the moon begin to wane?

When I stop speaking of love.

           What do you look like in the dark?

A horned, lit, and petrified tree on a shore.

           To whom do you turn when in pain?

Essay on Thunder

A woman made wary by misfortune, writes Stendhal, will not experience this soul-shaking upheaval. Soul-shaking upheaval means something like what he elsewhere calls the curse of passionate love, although my sense is that love here is better understood as either arousal or torpor, and that distinctions in such matters are, while necessary and true, ultimately mythological. Stendhal’s own argument also entails a critique of terminology: of thunderbolts, he says, That ridiculous word ought to be changed—but nevertheless the thing “love at first sight” does exist

When I first copied down those sentences from Stendhal, I wrote instead of upheaval the nonword unheaval, which I now think of as upheaval’s uncompromised sibling. On the ceiling of my gynecologist’s exam room is a watercolor of a lurid hummingbird with a few centimeters of beak inside a flower. A hummingbird’s beak is understood to be a sheath for the bird’s tongue, which means the tongue is a knife. Hummingbirds use their beaks to feed, as well as to do battle. There has not yet been a study of what their tongues do in such times of war. 
 

Basic Questions

      What was the experience of death like for you? 

The fluids within my body failed to be held within my body, which, as far as I can tell, does not entirely differ from some experiences of life, 

      At what moment did you know there was an existence beyond earth? 

as when, for example, I lay beneath another’s beautiful body of my own free will for the first time and learned in one of those staggering moments that I had hairs within my nostrils, 

      How did you feel? 

because they stood on end, as if confused by which hole was meant to receive the body that was on top of me, 

      Were you met by anyone? 

rapt into confusion. I once got to see inside of my own lower abdomen. Did you know there is a galaxy there? I have photographs to prove it.

      What things in our world still attract you most? 

My veins make azalea roots that teem with messages. There are lights whose names I don’t know. Malignancies are moons. There’s gold on the ocean shores. Planets made of other planets, growing into one another to rewrite the old rules about space and about time. I saw it all, through the eye within the eye. Someday, I’ll show you.

      What would you like to clarify for our world about your life? 

Daily existence, mine included, was nothing short of improbable. 

      Do you wish to return again? 

Foucault once wrote, “The venomous heart of things and men is, at bottom, what I’ve always tried to expose.” 

      Is there a message you would like to give to our world? 

Rilke once wrote, “You must change your life.” 

      Is there anything that you wouldn’t mind saying that would help assure your friends that you are you? 

Whatever I have loved, I have taken its name in vain.

Related Poems

B-Sides from my Idol Tryouts

1. Just like in true life
The wild geese approaching treason, now federated along one keep
May we find a rafter

 

 

2. I like the way you don't
go into the cabin
That is how I like it: methodically, mythically, my accidents are protests,
are my only protests, they are never accidents

 

 

3. We even misprism the past
Turn our waltz on the face of another
To turn on
To turn against
Opposite statements that express the same, sometimes, or binary like the lines:
Man is something to be overcome, what you you done to overcome him
or
Just how far can you push the heroic guy to being evil
and how far can you push the villain to being somebody you can
care about
or
Floodtide beneath you, I see you face to face

 

 

4. Check out your mind
Masquerading with dawn
It was invented by the press
Press harder (press not push)
The bell, the liquor, the deck of card crisp hardships surfacing as clovers and nights at his club getting low, if they ask you to sell them, don't
On the Corner, (side 1) try
Thinking of one thing and doing another

 

 

4. Repeat: But we are
Only getting rich in order to repeat these trips

 

 

5. But we are getting rich in order...
So neither group can be understood except in relation to the other
as in/
as out/
as excuses for true stories—

It's just that his passion costumes his thoughts,
not just his past
Not just a fat vacation Sunday
Also an emaciated smoke break
Also broken into images of smoke,

the way smoke moves
From tobacco
or factory chimney
your mouth
your vandalised memory
in order
to get rich
Someone has to work there and believe it into disappearance

 

 

6. Wealth: I am farmers/I am a thief.
Fame money/anonymous fame/factory farmed/black thief/by black I mean/
Buy black I mean
We are what sells
Thinking to ourselves:
Something in me wishes this wasn't my poem—
That emotion is glory or—
still?

 

 

7. Compliments: The only one I want is (the) speechless/
ness, (he) nestled in me bold and hip like a broken risk

 

 

8. Peaty Greene, Casius X (who's that) Jack Johnson, Blind Tom Wiggans, Bama the Village Poet, Gregor Samson, Fred Hampton, Josephine Baker, Lester Young, will you give up your death for me? Teach me why I am a destiny

 

 

9. If you think about me, and you ain't gonna do no revolutionary act, forget about me, I don't want myself on your mind

 

 

10. Anyway, innocence. Man is something to be overcome, what have you done to overcome him. Digitally pacing the stage as his future and his past, a full body holograph of Tupac Shakur. But then when he got shot no bitches came out, no music, nothin'. Just some critics' unphased mumblings: man you were marvelous but your co-star the gun was a bit over the top

 

 

11. Rehearsal for God Bless the Child.
I wanna get it right
Let's start with 'rich relations'
Green sides of goldsides
I immediately had to get a drum instructor a trumpet teacher and a sword twirling coach. Get your silence together. Hope is final

 

 

12. Super soul/supra soul/hip hop's egoless self-agrandisement is the next
toll/phase on the free/way, high/way, autoroute, or space between proof and privacy in loose weather

 

 

13.The man you love is walking home in Hollywood. 5 or 6 police cars come up, about 8 cops around. You fit the description, you always fit the description, you fit the description of a robbery in the area. A black guy, wearing jeans, 5'8," the whole thing

 

 

14. He had dreams of really hitting it big with his stereo store
He'd play samples of Caetano Veloso singing 9 out of ten movie stars make me cry, I'm alive!, or— One thing leads to another, but the kid is not my son or god bless the child that's got his own

Woman in Dub

“I’m gonna put on an iron shirt and chase the devil out of earth.”
            — Lee “Scratch” Perry and Max Romeo

Side A.

The devil I see is the one I saw and nail out of fears   out of cycles of wound   dread calcifying into prophecy    I put on an iron shirt to face it chase it but the cop still piss drunk with power I put on an iron shirt but the men on the street surveil the nipple   been hounding my punani since             before I spilled my first blood   what a menace of a body   I hurl blame to the husk   is the devil real or is it of my fantastical making  the answer is not the matter   the fact of paranoia be the true violence   warfare: the very presence of the question        I want to peer inward   to take a good look at the soundsystem     my heartbeat echoing out of my folkloric thirst   my desperate belief in other realities   a B-side where I’m abolished from emotional labor aka black woman’s burden  free to surrender to my own madness  to sink down into the dub of it   stripped of my first voice   reverbing outside the pain of a body—



Side B.

            stripped of my first voice    

 

                                               down in the dub            cop hounds my blood    

into paranoia           a black reality            

 

                                                                      cycles spilled    

 

                 power husked   
                                                                                         emotional woman I   I

I iron                            real street               folkloric and mad  
                                                                                       tr tr trrrruuuueeee  

 

take a good look at the devil

                                                     peer into the dread   

men surrender to wound: drunk        calcified                                          but I   

                        fantastic                 
                                                          chasing echoes       

 

 nailed to system                                            free in sound

 

                                        I       a fact      

 


                                                             answer of my own making


 

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