144.1: James Meetze:: Dark Art 7 & Dark Art 8 144

Of the series of poems that is excerpted below, James Meetze has stated: "The poem is made by magic." This is the perfect phrase to initiate this week's portfolio of work by three Southern California poets, writers creating in the shadow (and sometimes crevices) around the film industry. To write in this space is, as Meetze's work is titled, a truly dark art: "I can say dark because I know / how light happens." Writers are, of course, valuable assets in Hollywood. But the ultimate goal of a movie is for the script to disappear, the writer to be forgotten, the written word to become invisible, lost, immaterial. Meetze counters that the written word itself when deployed in the form of a poem is sufficient as an object in itself: "I wanted to say without distortion: / language is just a tool. / Warped, it becomes a poem." And the language in these poems proceed to create "[s]tars pulled from the collapsible hat / they become a bunny / everyone oohs and ahhhs." Though these poems are filled with the language of magic, the purpose isn't to pull the wool over the eyes or create a brief moment of pure escapism. Rather, Meetze's magical feats allows us to see and confront our own situation in its actuality: "We are always in the process of / not knowing, I don’t know, reading the book of." The magic of this language conjures a new reality rather than a new fantasy. Andrew Wessels

Dark Art 7


I can say dark because I know
how light happens; every filament
burns toward its end like we do.
Even the biggest stars
their projections in the dark
are waiting to be pulled into the hat.
Because of this vibrating string
a note here changes the whole fabric
and another note returns order.
I wanted to say without distortion:
language is just a tool.
Warped, it becomes a poem.
The order of the poem is arbitrary
like constellations are; the recipient
of it draws a line from here to here.
So we see a line.
Anyone can make a god out of it.
Morning has broken
because magic is at the heart
of the story we are taught, but
magic is also naughty.
Stars pulled from the collapsible hat
they become a bunny
everyone oohs and ahhhs.



Dark Art 8


If I could hocus pocus you into my arms
like a levitated assistant, we would call it floating.
To float upon Orion’s shield.
The Isle of California read to be floating too.
Ghost of the native tongue, a pixel on the map
says, no one builds a friendly city
to write a new legend.
No earthly body is a master of maps.
Each hamlet’s dot has a mirror image on the star chart.
I go there, we go there, we are somewhere else
a constellation’s history of movement.
We are always in the process of
not knowing, I don’t know, reading the book of.
Many places on the map we’ve yet to go
floating in and out of.
If I could float with you.
We are above the distance between two cities
and not a cloud at all to rest upon.
Everything is small when lives are being lived
smaller than this or that issue, smaller
than our cumulative memory when the lights go out.
If I could float with you into the otherworld, I would.
If I could have anything to share, then
this simple articulation of sharing would mean
love is a better magic than resurrection.