Poems and Texts

“Divine Aphasia” by Jackie Wang

Divine Aphasia

For Samuel Beckett

Have you ever half conscious sat wanting at your computer
And in the space of a blank virtual page saw all that you could be
That you could be free
Or so undone you could call it being free

Have you ever in the space of a blank page
Graphed litanies of everything you hate
And crossing the blood-brain barrier I saw my consciousness as a kind of net
Threadbare in all the places too tired to fortify
In the space abraded by no no I can’t not today
A pellet of sensation penetrates the faulty membrane
And a thought or idea or pebble of consciousness
Is permitted

Have you ever in the space of a page
Felt so galvanized by NWA’s unapologetic bravado
That you were free enough to pen your own “fuck the whatever” litanies
That you could say it simple and veracious
fuck the police
fuck america
fuck depression
fuck my failing brain

Have you ever in the space of a page
Registered the echo of what you could not say
And saying nothing all you could say
Was the gesture of turning away?

My circumlocutions went nowhere.
On the phone with my analyst I was unable to finish my sentences
My jumbled monologue was continually disrupted by my awareness of everything I was holding back in that moment
My dream
The dream where I died
And when I woke prayed it was the real death
The death of the Sad Self

I died.
I gave in.
When I’d drop the sentence I’d start mumbling and say, I uh, I don’t know.
Divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions
How to say qua qua qua of the one who gallops to escape
Why can’t you say?
Because divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions?
And thus, just the gesture of turning away,
And away,
And away.

I could say, I was sad.
In the dream my editor Sylvere is drawing a diagram in the snow showing me how I will finish my book
He points to a zone in his diagram and says
“This is where you’ll play”
“You’ve already written such important things”
“Go ahead. Just play.”
But play has left me.
And I won’t write as long as you expect me to pontificate from a perch in the sky
The aerial view of society has left me.
In the dream an interview about my work turns to coaching
but is he Hedi?
As the essence of Sylvere in the body of Hedi walks away I find a talismanic ice crystal on the ground.
It is as hard as a diamond.
I hold it up.
Will it help me write?
Will I write?
Is Sylvere underwhelmed by the talismanic crystal?
Will I write?
I’m losing my mind.
The old dykes sleep in terraced beds covered in crumbs.
I don’t think there’s ever a dream where I’m settled. Always I’m a traveler looking for shelter and today I join an encampment of itinerant lesbians.
While wandering the streets I happen upon a moog synthesizer conference.
I know that somewhere in the throng is my little brother in zoot suit carrying his new toy
Why are all the moog synth enthusiasts wearing zoot suits?
The old dykes on the beds are confused about the whole affair and I launch into a soliloquy about waves and the beauty of sound
Can you imagine…being able to–see–WAVES
as Delia Derbyshire could “read” the grooves of vinyl records
The meter on the switchboard dances as I speak
and the mesmerized dykes are so moved by my speech that they too believe in the absolute necessity of moog conferences attended by zoot suit-wearing dweebs.
My duty here is done.
I do
everything marked “done.”

Have you ever in the space of a page
Felt a need to write the voided dream
And in your conscious state found only the absence of everything
No thought outside the thought,
Or cowed by the phantasmatic sovereign you could not tweet your psychedelic antidepressant dreams
You could say, I had a dream.
You could say, In the dream I died.
Want to believe that I died a true death and that every day after the dreamed of death is my new life.
I am being reborn because yesterday I died
Why I was stabbed, I do not remember
People surrounded me while I held my blood and guts back with my fingers
MTT was my death shepherd
He was dying too, telling me to let go
I couldn’t
I was holding onto life while the proverbial light grew brighter and brighter and I kept trying to convey to everyone around me
But I could not speak.
Death beckoned to me, let go.
I could not hold back the light forever.
Did I feel my existence grow lighter and lighter as the blood slipped out of my body?
At some point I let go.
I died.
There is a myth that if you die in your dream you die in real life but i died and then awoke in my bed still alive but how do I know I didn’t die, I’m writing in my journal.

Is this consciousness or is it possible that
Whoever was here has slipped out the back door?

I could say, I died.
i could say I don’t know how to tell you how sweet it was to shed the weight of the Self
I could say you never know when God will give you a Door
In the Bla Bla car on the ride from Brest to Paris
–a door.
When I got out of car in the rain to pee I tried to climb a hill but fell into a patch of thorns
And crowning the hill was St John’s Wort
Balm or salvation in the form a plant that lifts mood
Leonard Cohen and Antony were another door.
“From this broken hill…”
I will not speak.
I will abide.
The queers will be redeemed.

Have you ever in the space of a page
Wanted to milk your tumescent heart
And finding only silence
Let the consolation remain a mystery?

Life’s sweetness is thorned

Simply there was a loneliness that was absolute, that can only be described as: God has abandoned me, here on this bathroom floor

Though the bathroom is dark there is a little red light on the ceiling
No one spoke from that light
And I became all the moments I’ve ever wanted to be found

Not found and finding nothing–
To rebuild yourself from that nothing
To stand when the Frenchwoman with the broken arm knocks on the door to pee
Was it grace denied?
No, grace in the abandonment.
At the end of it all: a pee joke.
I had cried onto his lap.
Exhausted I said, “You peed your pants.”
The stain was even a bit yellow.

Exhaustion gives way to humor.
Humor, another mysterious door.
In the second version of the story I plant a door.

As long as there is pain
there will be doors.

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is s a student of the dream state, black studies scholar, prison abolitionist, poet, filmmaker, performer, trauma monster, and PhD candidate at Harvard University in African and African American Studies. She is the author of Carceral Capitalism (Semiotexte / MIT Press), a number of punk zines including On Being Hard Femme, and a collection of dream poems titled Tiny Spelunker of the Oneiro-Womb (Capricious). In her most recent work she has been researching the bail bonds industry and the history of risk assessment in criminal justice. Find her @LoneberryWang and Loneberry.tumblr.com.

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