023.1: Julie Doxsee:: Monsterless & Ganges Spirit 023

Who would think that the loss of a soul is a happy occurrence? Much less a soul who not only is separated from the body, but then also proceeds to fall down a flight of stairs. At least in Julie Doxsee's first poem, the soul responds with a half-smile, and the narrator continues on past the soul to today's lovely encounter with a house. The narrator's bruises disappear, and then the whole body vanishes. I wonder—is the loss of the soul what causes the poem to be "Monsterless"? The relationship between soul and body in this poem questions dualism, as philosopher Daniel Dennett does, making compelling arguments for the singularity of the body. For Dennett, no soul is necessary any more; all is body. The miracle of life and consciousness is the process and functioning of the body itself. In "Monsterless", Doxsee separates soul and body to see what remains. The soul is not the entity that vanishes in her world; the body is what becomes ethereal, "vanish[ing] into the wall".

If the first poem is one of disappearing, "Ganges Spirit" is one of emergence. Glory birds, systems, formulas, beak-marks, lion tongues, rain, shavings of water, ships burning, hunchbacked men, teeth bites, messy histories, and slippers all come into existence. Some of these emergences are hopeful, and some are horrifying: "Hounds, hounds, hounds on the suffering banks -- what of them?" One could easily describe the poem as a statement of the world or life-creative force that is the Ganges River. This, while perhaps not untrue, is also an oversimplification of what Doxsee creates. The river, if the poem is a river, is a witness rather than a creative force. From the river one witnesses the world and the passage of time in the world, the "messy histories of a bird running over puddles" and the "messy histories of a salt factory". The sentences pass by each other as histories do, connected by time and space, as we, the companions to these witnesses, "barge in...on slippers made of down, made of holy petals, made of milk." Andrew Wessels


My soul fell out and fell almost straight down the stairs, then he half-smiled and I found a baby scorpion in his eye. The encounter with my house is lovely today because I found, also, a smile under the chair in the sunroom and my bruises disappeared after which I fainted because I was glad to be no longer pulverized like a saint. In fact his eyes watched me until I turned a higher temperature and vanished into the wall and onto the slightest glimmer.

The magic 8 ball gave an answer and I want you to reply that the encounter was not one of putting two and two together. If I were a smile I would get bitten into. It terrifies me that the world contains the sentence: No one here has to see me.

Ganges Spirit

I am a hash mark full of pocket holes, taken from the journal of a hunchbacked man on his way to the noose. The ox is too big and the cardboard box nary hammered. In the bicycling wilderness, a fort depicts big waistbands the glory birds emerge from. And what would emerge is a horrifying template full of systems and formulas, beak-marks and lion tongues, gasping in the rain for the rain you loved. I can’t understand the limits under-planking the shavings of water, ships burning on the straight while a lone man plays cowbell with a copper baton. Who went limping past to plea for a suicide near the yellow tree with a big blue eye painted on it? I want your teeth to bite a different kind of me until it compliments the blood. Do you understand how to turn yourself into an infinite reflection whose head always obscures the view? The messy histories of a bird running over puddles. The messy histories of a salt factory. Hounds, hounds, hounds on the suffering banks – what of them? We barge in so delicately in slippers made of down, made of holy petals, made of milk.