A new album of ambient, highly-poetic music is now out by the French multidisciplinary artist Sandra Moussempes. Vox Museum, which features remixes from Black Sifichi, is some of Sandra’s most impressive and iconic work to date. A sample track, “Sweetie’s diary,” is here:
Throw water in the streets
And devouring hearts
And heart dissection
Here is the text from the video Thorough Water: Here and There.
Thorough Water: There and Here
“Water is part of a pattern I’ve watched unfold throughout my career. I document landscapes that, whether you think of them as beautiful or monstrous, or as some strange combination of the two, are clearly not vistas of an inexhaustible, sustainable world.”
– Edward Burtynsky (Walrus, October 2013)
“Human presence, once a factor less important to than elk or fungi, was then transformed into an agent of disruption as great as the ice ages themselves.”
– The Olympic Rain Forest: An Ecological Web, by Ruth Kirk (114)
Reasonable. The water still flowing in front of me, I remember sitting in place, stone monument, effigy of towers of wood and slashes of fern through millions of shades of green. While the creeks chugged along. The falls felled vision and circumstance. The tides were our breaths and the blood pushing against the walls of our muscles, skin, our frames.
Nestled. Nested. We can sit and watch the echoing of the scrapes against the land as that apparent infinity continues. I feel it now. The rumble. The roar. The press. And yet I know: what I saw was a marvel and could always move to the finite. To the nevermore. To the last stretch and the longing, so deep within, so trusted, this longing, this beautiful, fantastic emptiness. Quinault in daylight: where we go to think of loss.
“The bubbles formed a sweet-smelling bell.”
– from “The Bath” by Elizabeth Cooperman (in Make it True meets Medusario, page 140)
They demand our attention, and we enter, and we wait. A factory of water that sprouts awareness. Education. And the pure bliss of a splashing corridor. I could watch humans pass by this vision towards conservation over and over. I could watch them move along, cascade like droplets into some basin of rejection. Or perhaps they stop by: admire as a tarn, as a cache of the leftover, and move along. The conservatory: a museum of the living. More trust. More love. More responses indicative of demand, imperative, resolve.
The most startling quality: what we place over the core. The core identity, the core message: we cover ourselves and our lives and the truth up with decoration faster than the beat of the tongue on the roof of the mouth: faster than a single word, covered in moonlight or the fatigue of the sun as another day passes, and we must reinvigorate our experience. Calmly. Splash. Shatter of liquid. Present enough to touch. Present enough to coat the body, the camera, the phone, glasses, purses, the paths to our collective futures of transience. Of an abyss worth living through to grind surplus into the dust of departure.
3: Royal Basin
the quick water
the slow water
and the same bank
– from “Remembrance of Water” by John Taylor (26)
Before the marmot screamed me into electricity, I watched the flow of blue through an underwater lens. The capture of light in the process of refraction: muddy and undeniably instant. The present moment, at least as far as water goes, is a shockingly muted experience. But this was the case in the upper meadow-filled basin of Royal. I have memories as a child on the Atlantic Coast, Southern Maine specifically, where the waves would throw me around like a bundle of rags, and I would see black and green and white and silver as my crushed body struggled to make sense of tumult and torment. To give form to the instant, an instant so extreme that form was its opposite.
Royal Basin, though, where Amy meditated and I imagined more bears and the edge of the peaks looked down like wizards burying their rituals into my shoulders, my back, the upper tip of my spine, energy slowly spreading through, like snowmelt pushing down mountainside steadily, methodically. That is: of stead and method, and me, the onlooker, in awe. I think of the source and urge myself to remain cordial. Past days I would jump into those glacial waters emulating sage or celebration. Now I stare and grow fond of the chance to be amazed at a stillness created by the infinity. The water that can remain the ideal while we still have time.
4: North Cascades
“I feel increasingly content simply being here, present, not doing anything in particular.”
– Chasing Clayoquot: A Wilderness Almanac by David Pitt-brook (112)
Dams made of brittle, exacting concrete and metal. The resort that houses a semblance of menial organization amidst a system of ecstatic beauty. The towering giants with names I’ll never remember, and shapes that change in my dreams. The listless ripples that etch into the topography like scales on the limbs of a myth. It is in the North Cascades that love breaks apart into reality, and vice versa. It is in the North Cascades that the slices of nature afford us with breath and breeze, and there is just as much ordinary as exceptional. Ross Lake holds the footprint together. It is the instrument we have earned through preservation and attentiveness. And it is shrinking.
Seeing 10-20 feet less of a lake for the first time after many visits provides a hollowing sense of fear and an indignation so human it feels unique, untrue, questionable. There are many causes for less water, and the ecology is difficult to pair with witness. But there are moments that trigger an awareness of spectrum, and that spectrum is the development of the relationship with the many possibilities. Staring down at the lake, several years ago, I imagined swallowing the entire thing in a single gulp. It might be that that gulp is ongoing, now, and into the future, and the swallowing involves savoring the benefits through to exhaustion amidst awe. 10-20 feet lower, and my breath still wavers, my mind still feathery and bracing for tragic circumstances. And regardless, there is readiness. To be able to receive, and to do it gently. That might be what is owed, before the ends and the retributions.
Illuminates the sails
Leading and fleeing
Forgetting a presence
Aquam I: Mucous
across the lips
The following GIF and Video were created using underwater footage at Royal Basin, in the Olympic Mountains, on the Olympic Peninsula.
I have reviewed two anthologies at Yellow Rabbits: My Lot is a Sky: An Anthology of Poems by Asian Women and Call and Response: A Migrant/Local Poetry Anthology.
View them here.
My essay, “Poets, Dissidents and Librarians” is now available in the latest issue of Alki, the magazine of the Washington Library Association.
This essay explores some of the people I met, experiences I had, and perspectives I encountered during my trip to Myanmar earlier this year. It’s a nice blend of my library and poetry sides.
Read the full article here.
Additional Thorough Water videos from May 2019. These collect multiple shots per. Intentional focus on lower-density videos to capture the roughness of the experience. Both can be watched in HD.
Black Rock Desert – Whiskey Spring
May 25, 2019
Wait for darkness to fill.
Dream the songs of coyote.
Pack, collective, constellation.
Now night’s arrival reflected
in mirrors and sickness.
People have been here 1000s of years.
I can stand to live another day.
Fears brace me: crutch of reservation.
The thin white-gray memory of playa.
Sinking truth like a sinking smile
and a yearning heart. In Spanish.
Meanwhile there is “while” here.
It is a full space, vast with each step.
The steppe climate unpredictable.
The insects in red light like freckles.
The dust in red light: scratched film.
Daniel Canty wrote of wind, while
I wait for the wind to return
and my courage to grow like a flood.
Pray for no rain this absence of light
and human voices, my own, taking space.
When I step outside, reason will return
just as the landscape of beating hearts
will beat once more.
In 7 hours, day will fill
and I will chatter with wide eyes.
May 27, 2019
Like the tongue slashed sideways in death pose
Pyramid Lake sloshes fervently nearby.
It is an otherwise astounding glare
thousands of miles in the praxis of center.
Resolution: to arrive at the cover of space
and be provided for by cushions of cloud.
I step out, breathe in the smell of frozen sage.
The Steppe is Massacre Rim on a good day.
Wingfield Park figures standing staring straight.
And later: a man prepares to fish.
And earlier: two women search the grass.
What I would do to be as fixed
as the stature of our public
as statues bleeding and sweating.
The horror of stumbling upon a corpse
captured in full daylight
with no one nearby to hear a gasp.
Empty are its eye sockets.
As empty as the street.
Eagleville is the place time won’t forget.
I dream of a banner of American propaganda.
I dream of nowhere to flee toward.
In it the corpses smile in mirth.
In it the corpses smell of new grass.
Unstilled by the awe of life,
she carries white bread across the kitchen,
smears a thickness of pale, yellow butter,
and places, mouth ajar, the bread on the pan.
I stare, hands in my pockets,
and there is the subtle, dehumanizing swelter.
Chokehold on 34
Sliding across dozens of miles of mud,
I question existence before a single pair
of antelope (pronghorn) deapproach.
The floor mats will need to be washed
of more than the dried clay.
The visiting woman overheard at the mechanic’s:
“And then it hailed, and it was real hail.”
The male mechanic nodded. Very Nevada. Clear sky overhead.
Playa beyond. Is it nonsense to the locals?
Or is it all sense, ignorance and everything else?
I’d been encouraged to visit Bruno’s in any event.
Especially the unforeseen weather.
I visited first, before the weather.
The next day, 36 hours later, I drove by.
Passing, I could hear the buzz of subduction
through the antique walls.
It was here in Reno I discovered Harjo’s quote:
“Some world travelers learn nothing.”
What is to be gained from arriving,
and immediately turning around?
Disambiguation on Wikipedia.
The situation of a place barely inhabited
for 1000s of years: its strength
in the silence of a few
for a few.
Fortifications are not completely designed.
They are not meant to be scaled.
What is the meaning that haunts in full daylight
and entirely horrifying when beyond full view?
Donnelly has as much a name as a voice.
It courses beyond space its chorus vibrating
and choking in inquiry and dying life.
The order of a stabilization.
The incredible order.
Headache and bastardization.
Reality is cold-hearted.
Otherhood is principle. Warmth.
Entrancing. Alive. An earning.
Just to be alive to say hello to
act to participate.
It exists. As do we. As we meet
and part and destabilize across
High Canyon’s shadowy periphery.
Enter the twinkling last stance.
We will meet again.
The weather may be warmer,
may be boiling heartbeats.
Black Rock Coyote
Under the assumption of familial fealty,
under the assumption of cordial chaos.
Song start breathes life as interrogation.
Or celebration: placement is lone and true.
Death and Taxes
It hurts less in the meantime.
I don’t know what you mean.
Baby’s breath crown to a walk in the clouds.
Meanwhile: tone death and tone waiting.
Meanwhile: tone as a crucial behemoth.
And back to realism, adigital, tonal:
the champions are the ones that exit to exist.
Never the opposite until a calcifying of tears.
The first visit I felt nothing. I’d been as.
I’d seen through. I’d evicted from.
The second visit I tripped upon more nothing.
More exquisite and more erroneous the truth.
Forgot to apologize for the judgment.
Returned to the mites with doubtful numbers.
Massacre Lake returns to me.
Petroglyphic and a rising sputter.
Breathless and altogether amesmer.
What massacre this derailing sky?
Back home the sun plasters beauty
and Jason steps forward strongly through time.
Thousands of moments across hundreds of miles.
The red and green and brown and gray
smear into their eternity of perception.
A crucial dream is the fervor of wake.
A wake is green and crucial.
The green of the smile comes rightly.
Pressure tightly in this shadow presence.
Surrounded there’s the black of the counter,
black of the walls, of the leather seats,
and whatever else is performative and clear.
Greetings, eyes that shoot out like daggers.
Reservations before the noon’s silence.
One becomes infinite of black and purple,
a translucence equal parts obedience and rebellion.
The auditory inquiry is as situational as precious.
I wonder of nearby cravings and graves.