and God only knows what the fuck those words really mean. But I know that I mean them. And I know that I wrote them. And I know that I mean to speak them to you. Somehow. In some way. In whatever way I can. Apropos; a collective subjectivity of sorts. Even fucked. Even balls-out insane. Best not to shoot one's wad right away, lest. . . Intertextuality; what the fuck? I think trying to be reasonable is one of the most unreasonable things we can be in this space. I don't know too many reasonable people. I realize, and only recently, that most of the people I 'know,' or those I've come closest to 'knowing,' are Native. So, maybe this is part of the problem. Dreaming all the time is dangerous. I figure (and only recently) that loving all the time and with one's whole heart, with one's truest mind, isn't such a safe idea either. At least not whilst Native. Very interested in the Theory of Forms, something I came upon while only reading in a very cursory way Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Something, something about 'reality,' or the truest nature, the truest being-ness of things, existing before and beyond their forms, or Forms being something other, something far before and beyond any of our conceived reality of any given object, any given thing existent in nature, and that which has departed from it, entering into our seeing it (in the very act of our seeing it or trying to know it) and experiencing it, as something else entirely, something wholly apart from its truest life. And so I came back around to this little-but-lasting idea of Forms and how I've come to them (or not know them at all as it were), and the lead-up was this: a question, posed to myself, when the shutting-off of mind should have been the way of it, but wasn't, only last night "what thought brings you comfort?," and it was this (if it was/is anything at all),
Mine is a beautiful mind, a beautiful heart. Beautiful enough to know that this too, this beauty, ephemeral as most things I've come to know, come to see, come to love: will pass. Beautiful enough to know, for as long as I can know it, that some things, vital, sacred, remain when the mind has gone, when the heart has died. Life is not the thing. . . not its idea anyway. Life exists before and beyond any of our finite conceptions about it. And they, ideas, are all this. Finite. Even if beautiful. Even if comforting. They too will pass.
My truest life. My truest mind. I've yet to come into it. Being unreasonable, even completely fucking raving mad and running amok is part and parcel of this era, of our Native-being in the 21st. What, if not this? Who, if not us? The way of it has come to pass. Most of the Natives I know are fucks, serious assholes, like, they've made it an art and a science if ever there was an art and a science that made beautiful fuck-asses of us all. Yeah. Not so eloquent that. But mad true. The way I've come to see my own life, my own magnificent heart and mind, so much of it dark (even the bright spots). Bright Black Morning Light. I like that a lot, the name mostly, the music too, but, well, the names have it; their music could be complete shit and I'd still think the name was ridiculously fucking beautiful. Yeah, back and back: Indians. There's this thing going, see? Like: mad abundant, violent, so ever-present, it's everywhere and everything, and you think you can even detect its flavor in the water. But something else too. So many of us, so arrogant, so self-aggrandizing, putting ourselves on this high, high pedestal with a concomitant self-loathing, self-effacing, pure contempt for all self-hood, not just ours, self-hood: what it was, is, will be, might be composed of. . . finally. And all the while calling what we do and what we are holy. Is that what striking a magnificent balance looks like, I wonder?
Savage grace. Yeah. Can't get away from it. Won't. I don't think I can. Not just yet. I wanted, from very early on, to say to them, to Her, to Him, to whoeverthefuck was in earshot: just say it already. Just, fucking, say it. We're assholes. We're cocksucking assholes. We fucked up. We fucked up just like all humans fuck up. And you know it. Yeah, ceremonies. Yeah, language. Yeah, surviving. Yeah, returning. Yeah, resistance. Yeah, mythos. Yeah, children. Yeah, elders. Yeah, stories. Yeah, creation. Yeah, sacred. Fucked. Yeah. Super fucked. Just say it. Just fucking say it, so we can get on with it, yeah? So. . . yeah. Now we've said it. Now it's been said. And the light changes.
But only a little.
And the viscera: it rises up.
And things: they're still pretty dark.
Did you know (well, not know, but did I forget to remember to tell you again) that I slept on the floor of the arcade in the train on the way back? Contorted like a magnificent I-don't-know-what. Both in the seat I was assigned. And then on the floor of the train, where I came to rest my head, before the first few terrible rays of a muted dawn light, before being required to lift the still-tired but vital body of me up; a blast of cold Northern California air coming in, upon one of the last stops before Emeryville. The rainbow. Yeah. The rainbow. That was nice.
A gentle prelude (I have known a few) to what would follow.
I like my lens a lot. Even if it's cracked and coated in a years-accumulated filament. Creation Story of this or that. Do you think anyone will ever tell this one to the children during the long, cold, dark, harsh winters that will surely come, if they don't absolutely have to?
If I could give it all back or away, I wouldn't. I mean, not more than I already am.
I think I've fallen in love with the feeling of falling. And I wonder when it wasn't always this way. I wonder if that proclivity is in my blood somehow. I wonder if there was a way to stop, just fucking stop, feeding it, and nurturing its constant impulse. Neural Thrombosis. Atrophy. I have all these neatO names of diseases and dysfunctions, disorders and organs and processes all stacked in neat little rows (which do oft exist as complete fucking disarray when I sometimes come back to them) inside of me. Sick life lexicon. And I don't for the life of me know how they got there. Don't for the life of me know what would happen if I traced the steps back and back to where I picked them up and brought them along for the ride, why I placed them in their order, why they play, like child ghosts, in the matted sticky fabric of my dreams when I have them, of all that does become my mad coming-back-and-going-away-again lines.
Post-traumatic stress disorder.
What the fuck? Wish I had a better name for it. Going to see my Dad at the VA hospital at nine or ten after he'd 'melted,' had some sort of a seizure in front of me, at some day school at night, where he'd been asked to read poems or tell stories. Christmas time. Does that count? Because I was pretty fucking stressed out before the seizure. Before the hospital. Before. . .
Compassion for self is most vital. What remains. What is most vital and most sacred: remains. I know it deep down. I think, fuck, know, feel, am this actuality of it: this has always been true. And there is something in this. Storying it. All of it. Even though what is most vital and most sacred in it, in all things, is before and beyond any story that might attempt at encompassing it, any language that might try and try at conveying it. . . there is something in using language, and story, to cleave things, cut things, burn things, destroy things back together somehow.
Lines I also like, lines that keep me going on and alive somehow:
cinema of the mind
and of the inner consciousness
what cord is not all severed?
I think there must be one. I think there must have been a time of which I was horrified, or even disinterested in items like coffin birth, or the young Pueblo mother who took her little son to the playground one day to strangle him to death and bury him underneath the swings, or the Ojibwe soldier who went to Iraq, and his young wife who stayed near home; the baby son born from them and their madness, he who survived, he and his own little madness which still lives, when she didn't.
Still waiting for an answer to my question to my father about the little holes, little doors placed in the walls at Haaku', at the pueblo, for the children who were taken in the 16th and 17th centuries, never to return, little doors, a way of remembering not to forget them, little holes for their little taken bodies, just in case they ever return. So the question began like this (just another symposium, another moment with my father and one of his scholarly white women nearby, of which there have been many): at some point you begin to question the virtues of being among the survivors. What of us? What of the ones who were not taken? What of the children who remained? Where's our fucking memorial? Who will mourn for us? You, who construct little doors in walls for the taken children. You, who leave before the children learn how. You, with your guns. You, with your fire. You, with your light/dark/light eyes.
You, with your metal. You
Oh yeah. Forgot who you were for a second.
The Hero's Journey. I can dig it. Mythos temporal, ephemeral but prolific and all. . . he always falls. He always: falls. Returns to find his home burned, his wife pillaged, his Gods and dogs all-dead, his children's limbs severed and hearts ripped from their little lifeless and atrophied bodies. Virgil is hardcore. As poets go: Virgil is hardcore. And when one of his best comrades, he who would become the first emperor Augustus, chose to make Rome alive in his own heart, in his own mind, something akin to what it would become, before it fell the fuck apart and for good, Virgil did the same, but away from Rome, in a world of his own dreaming, being, and believing. He preferred the quieter life, a quieter madness than the political life of Rome. But it was no less bloody, by any means. Quite the contrary. But I admire the tendency in him, the stuff of all great epic poems/poetry, to story violence, bloody history, the wickedness of all men, of all women, but to aspire toward, or to possess a tendency also toward storying goodness, peace, humanity and reconciliation.
What of healing in this? Is any nation with a bloody history such as ours, such as that of Rome, or Greece, or Nazi Germany ever healed? Can it be? What might the poets do, if anything? I think poets are better at extolling the virtues of blood, than they are at singing the praises of those who might clean it up, sew destroyed bodies and nations back together, gruesomely slow, and for little or no pay.
Who the fuck does that?!
Carthage. Athens. Troy. Pine Ridge. Who the fuck and why the fuck? Ghost monkeys. Zombie strippers. One eyed dogs. Sacred clowns. Yup, yeah, they're all there.
It rises. The darkest parts rise up. The viscera. The sores. The vomit. The come and the salt and the shit in the already-tearing-apart-parts.
The dreams and wives of the dead.
The darkest parts rise up.
And we rise with them.
If we are very, very lucky.
Sleep: it doesn't always come.
But sometimes it does.
Sleep and every sort of little death.
I should like to know more of its little parts with you.
I traced the lines of your sleeping back that morning.
With my eyes. With my fingers. With my. . .
What rises, what stays, what survives: is most vital.
Not all of it will.
But some of it does.
What will remain of us?
What is light?
November 28th, 2009; 1:46 am
Sara Marie Ortiz is an Acoma Pueblo memoirist, poet, performing artist, scholar, documentary filmmaker, and Indigenous peoples advocate. She is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts (BFA, Creative Writing, 2006) and she holds an MFA in Creative Writing, with a concentration in creative nonfiction, from Antioch University Los Angeles (2009). She has formally studied law, film, theater, and journalism. Her most recent publications include works of poetry and prose in Ekleksographia, Drunken Boat, The Kenyon Review, The Yellow Medicine Review, Sentence, The American Indian Graduate, The Florida Review, New Poets of the American West, and Sing: Indigenous Poetry of the Americas. Ms. Ortiz is currently producing a documentary on the life and legacy of her father Simon J. Ortiz. She currently works and lives in Portland, Oregon.