Thursday, July 14, 2011

Micah Ballard and Blake

Narrative unfolding in dream, or coma-lite, or in the interstices of sight-stream, or in wherever it is save memory ["One is always at home in one's past," as Nabokov notes] that the essences are more exact, have a truer heft, the dimensions more accorded to our understanding, or maybe unfolding in the snake's coiled cusp, viper breeding, gender seething, the dark unleaving of all our best intents, where the voice hears only its empty echo and miscreants prowl the marges, silent as the amputation of a phantom hand, etc.

Ballard's piece glimpses shadows torqued into the business of being-and-not-being cruising the chthonic streets of the present, sliding through our future ruins, through the necrotic now. In Blake's vision, as well, people do not exit (except as "none" and "many"), but the dialectic is poisonous: the serpent vomits not beneath Mary's heel as foretold, but upon the sacrament, the consecrated which was, at any rate, always unattainable, always the source of sorrow.  Ballard ends with the acceptance that the world (or its center of order/significance/purpose) is precisely and only what it is, and is closely attended with uncertainty, in stark contrast to the shadows' avoidance (circling, skulking). Blake is horrified by the scene and turns and lives with the animals, even the lowest of the low (which seem clean after the conclusion of the vision).

             --Micah Ballard

I see into them
as they see out of me
& dissolve the wattage
to avoid future legends
young pharaohs on Fillmore cracking dutches
it is a lonely frontier by contrast
forgotten game skulking around
big hearts, small temper
thine absence overflows
thine presence undoes
do not attempt to circle the inferno
a tremor in the throne
is a tremor in the throne


--William Blake

I saw a chapel all of gold
That none did dare to enter in,
And many weeping stood without,
Weeping, mourning, worshipping.

I saw a Serpent rise between
The white pillars of the door,
And he forced and forced and forced,
Down the golden hinges tore.

And along the pavement sweet,
Set with pearls and rubies bright,
All his slimy length he drew
Till upon the altar white

Vomiting his poison out
On the Bread and on the Wine.
So I turned into a sty
And laid me down among the swine.


BIO: Micah Ballard was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Selected books include: Evangeline Downs (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2006), Parish Krewes (Bootstrap Productions, 2009), Poems from the New Winter Palace (arrow as aarow, 2010), and Waifs and Strays (City Lights Books, forthcoming fall 2011). From 2000‑07 he directed the Humanities Program at New College of California and currently works for the MFA in Writing Program at University of San Francisco. He is co‑editor for Auguste Press and Lew Gallery Editions.


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