BEHIND THE EPIGRAPH-CROCHETED VEIL
I finally finished organizing THE THORN ROSARY, the manuscript for a forthcoming book of Selected Prose Poems spanning ten years. The manuscript is nearly 300 pages, which means it's likely to have a higher page count in book pages. Because I felt in a navel-gazing mood (well, Toi ask, since when is Moi not in a navel-gazing mood...but that's a different story....), I went through the manuscript to pluck out every single epigraph that's featured. I wondered what my selection of quotes from other writers would say about Moi. But the answer, of course, is for you to say. Here are the epigraphs:
"The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description."The United States of Jasper Johns by John Yau
--Archbishop Fulton Sheen
What will it be like when we reach
the remnants of yesterday's weather?
I ask. This is not the time to begin
speculating. We must stick to the
sentences we assigned ourselves,
the ones fleeing the muse of
--from "Big Island Notebook 7" by John Yau
warm stones gather the rainfall
speaking a gray language
i've tried to imitate.
i read books compiled
from anonymous scrolls.
i eat their dust
hoping to trace
the steps to heaven.
--from ": Looking For Buddha" by Jaime Jacinto
She was beginning to understand
some pale bravado
in her horizontal line
--from "Pack Rat Sieve" by Mei-mei Berssenbruge
You are lost the instant you know what the result will be.
I am concerned with a thing's not being what it was, with its becoming something other than what it is, with any moment in which one identifies a thing precisely and with the slipping away at that moment, with at any moment seeing or saying and letting it go at that.
Poetry is like painting. You say you are going to paint a portrait. You start with a blob of color and then wash, and when the lines are taking shape, you see a landscape, perhaps people. You are not quite sure what you're driving at, but it means something in the end. And the first person to be surprised is the one who made it.
only raid the world of
its radiance and wonder
--from "Cezanne's Apples" by Manuel Viray
I carry the light of all countries
everywhere I go
I declare myself responsible
for the upkeep of their bridges
their poor their balconies
the fading lamps
and evanescence of dawn
I claim you as my burden
the you I will never meet
I bear your music
and your histories
and your children begging in the streets
and your mothers
counting the bullets
in the hollow nest of corpses
--from "Manifesto of Myself" by Eric Gamalinda
--Jose Garcia Villa
When a term like symmetria is used by a late antique rhetorician, one should probably not expect it to have the rigorous precision of meaning that it conveyed to a sculptor of the fifth century B.C. In general, it may be expected that the technical value of a particular term-that is, the value which is dependent upon the special knowledge and training of a particular group-will diminish as the size of the group using the term increases.
--from "The Ancient View of Greek Art" by J.J. Pollitt
"we have never really left anywhere we have been"
"No movement independent of time"
--Myung Mi Kim
The shifting relationship between the senses and the intelligence makes the apprehension of reality problematic, even when one repeatedly refuses, as Johns does, to succumb to the desire for asylum.
Perhaps I could silence this firebird swelling my sails with blood winds, fevers, but even the Seine today was restless.
--from "Nearer the moon" by Anais Nin
. . . as a wave is a force and not the water of which it is composed, . . . so nobility is a force and not the manifestations of which it is composed . . . .
I would have to find someone who would follow me in my wanderings.
--November 10, 1890 letter from Arthur Rimbaud to his mother
To be taken up higher and higher by uneven stone stairs and to stand there with your heart beating outside the gate of the near world. To gather laurel and marble for the white architecture of your destiny.
And to be as you were born, the center of the world.
"dissonance may abandon miserere"
--from "Dissonance Royal Traveller" by Barbara Guest
"stairs rising to platforms lower than themselves,
doors leading outside that bring you back inside"
--Clifford Geertz, on Michel Foucault
"A stake, an axis is thus driven into the earth in order to mark out the boundaries of the sacred space in many patriarchal traditions. It defines a meeting place for men that is based upon an immolation. Women will in the end be allowed to enter that space, provided that they do so as nonparticipants."
Lehren die Musen ihn gleich bescheiden Geheimnisse sprechen
In a global, capitalistic culture logotypes exist (Nike, McDonalds, Red Cross) which are recognizable by almost all of the planet's inhabitants. Their meanings and connotations are familiar to more people than any other proper noun of any given language. This phenomenon has caused some artists to reflect on the semiotic content of the words they use, (for example, in the names of perfumes) and isolate them, stripping them down to their pure advertising content. Words are no longer associated with a product, package or price, and go back to their original meaning or to a new one created by the artist
--from Galeria Helga de Alvear's exhibition statement for "Ads, Logos and Videotapes" (Estudio Helga de Alvear), Nov. 16-Jan. 13, 2001
I don't take English for granted. I have to fight for every word of it.
I wrestled with my bed sheets
What I was looking for was this,
Innocent and tremulous like a vineyard
Deep and unscarred like the sky's other face,
A drop of soul amidst the clay
--from "THE GENESIS" by Odysseus Elytis
"The work is treated as thesis, an antithesis is posited, and a synthesis arrived at which in turn becomes thesis."
--from "In Support of Meta-Art" by Adrian Piper
I made up rhymes in dark and scary places,
And like a lyre I plucked the tired laces
Of my worn-out shoes, one foot beneath my heart.
--from "Wandering" by Arthur Rimbaud
(trans. by Paul Schmidt)
(problem margin mad hymn optical slaying
--from "OBEYED DILEMMA" by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen
I tell myself to be open to all experience,
to take what is ugly and find something nourishing in it;
as penicillin may be found in green, moldy bread,
or as, in the morning, a child of the earth
floating in a porcelain jar full of rain water
is something astonishing.
--from "Written The Day I Was To Begin A Residency At The State Penitentiary" by Arthur Sze
The healing process is simultaneously an individual and communal effort. What is summoned from the depths of one's soul comes from the wounded collective memory of colonized peoples, but so does the healing power that comes from woundedness. The memories must be shared with others. It is the telling that makes them available to the consciousness for further critical reflection.
--from "Coming Full Circle" by Leny Mendoza Strobel
Telling a story about oneself is not the same as giving an account of oneself.
--from "Giving An Account of Oneself" by Judith Butler
Ferdinand Marcos might not be one of the all-time killers but he is certainly one of the biggest thieves in the history of the planet. Estimates of his ill-gotten gains range from US$3 to US$35 billion. Some suggest that the true amount is over US$100 billion, perhaps even trillions of dollars. // While these latter sums may be fanciful, the legacy of the Marcos dictatorship is all too real-an economy struggling just to pay the interest on its foreign debt and a seriously compromised democracy seemingly unable to shake off entrenched corruption...It took Marcos 20 years to pillage and wreck the Philippines. Unfortunately it may take far longer for the damage to be undone.
--from More or Less: Heroes & Killers of the 20th Century
In 1901, just after the Americans took over the civil administration of the Philippines, young Filipinos-in quest for a better life-went to work in the pineapple plantations in Hawaii. Thus began the Filipino Diaspora that has brought millions of Filipinos to different countries in the world today.
--Perry Diaz, a frequent internet commentator on Filipino topics
our youth is where the only gods we ever created live.
To bring a poem into the world
Is to bring the world into the poem
--from "Conjurations #3" by Eileen R. Tabios
"I am called 'Balikbayan' because the girl in me is a country of rope hammocks and waling-waling orchids-a land with irresistible gravity because, in it, I forget the world's magnificent indifference."
--from "Corolla" by Eileen R. Tabios
There's one more epigraph I can cite, but which I separate out from the above:
"I do not know English"
--from "I Do Not" by Michael Palmer
In the context that I cited the Palmer quote, my intention was negating said epigraph, a different intention from how I cited the other epigraphs (usually in an honoring / affirming way rather than negation). And so, in the poem "I DO", the Palmer epigraph is swiftly followed by a second epigraph:
"Marunong akong mag-ingles" (I do know English)
--any 21st-century Filipino poet
Believe it: Moi knows English, even as English does not know Me.