145.1: Virginia Konchan:: Napoleon Contemplates His Mortality from the Perspective of a Fly & Dolores Haze Enters the 10th Grade & Dolores Haze as Schéhérazade 145

The first three words of Virginia Konchan's poems today address the basic situation of each of us as individuals: "All alone now." But as an alone individual, Konchan finds herself surrounded by voices, either the Napoleon of the first poem or the the Dolores of the second and third poems. The emanation of these voices Konchan has described as pre-ekphrasitic, questioning both the formation of the visual as well as the envisioning of the "I" itself. Thus, "[t]o the other I am human" but to this, "I" am poem. The "I" becomes something that is not I and is not you, something that is entirely a creation within the poem. These persona poems give us not a door into another's consciousness but rather a disruption of our very notion of self-consciousness in the first place. The great philosopher of the mind Daniel Dennett has stated that "the residual individuality of subjects is treated as a problem, not an opportunity in most experimental subjects." In Konchan's hands, these individualities become opportunities, and the expected rhetorical problems of typical personae poems fall by the wayside. Rather than finding herself caught up in some fictional process causing us readers to suspend our belief, Konchan pushes us to question our own notions of selfhood and relationship to our perceived consciousness: "I will...endeavor / to understand, master, or believe." Andrew Wessels

Napoleon Contemplates His Mortality from the Perspective of a Fly

All alone now, the spirit ascends,
not in grandeur, not surrounded
by fishermen or their wharfs,
not accompanied by Josephine.

The mission twice aborted,
no, began, the chalk dust
of centuries, of pedagogical unease,
the comforts of home abandoned,

rich tapestries of want, he—
the fatal lodestar—sinks
his rapier into the ground,
reclines on a four-poster bed

of crinoline and trash, remembers
the fidelity of man, his honorific
native tongue, humbly requests
a glass of water. It is the last glass

of water in the world. The fly
merely circulates. I could die here,
not unhappily, but won’t;—
the world will continue,

panoptic, bread will be baked,
the children will sleep fast.
It is the first day of the last day.
The low tide moans its applause

Dolores Haze Enters the 10th Grade

I open my clenched fists,
breathe in crenelated air:
my ears keening for the whistle
of the kettle, train, or inner ear.
The man I fled and toward whom
I’m walking, with purposeful gait,
are not the same man. To one
I was datum, flesh, a beast
to harness for a life
on a racetrack, circling
madly at impossible speeds.
To the other I am human,
quiet in my orbit, and clean.
I shut the door to the boudoir
with reluctance, open geometry:
chicken scratch whose language
I will, to be worthy of love, endeavor
to understand, master, or believe.

Dolores Haze as Schéhérazade

The moment I stop
laying golden eggs
(chain mail of history)
at your feet, meat
of legal tender,
sonic wallpaper
of place and thing
(floating signifiers
of your trash-strewn,
transitive soul), you die.
1001 nights: how long
I didn’t exist save as cipher,
matrix of guillotined tongue.
You: propped on sultan pillows.
Me: spiritus-turned-matter,
three-dimensional codex
a threnody for the real.