Bruise (conditions) — M.J. Gette

excavation site I :

Can you speak / w/o yr tongue
snapping off in the throat of another? Pear of Anguish, it’s springtime

          [tag 1]
         mad midwife moon
         mad mad            moo moo
[tag 2]
                                caul caterwaul aaaaaaaaaarrriaaaaaa

                                                     excavation site II:
Or does a clear thought only follow a question
            woman reliquary
                         triste, tristes, of stump removal
snap snap
snap snap snap

                                                   [tag 3]
                                      goes the ecstatic

                                                                          excavation site III :
So the rubble flocks together
                                      (sighting: Arctic ptarmigan belly-up in the South Pole)
                 of a heretic chain; triste, tristes, relic of the inquisition)

                                                                        [tag 4]
                                                         hysteria relic / Ye have
                                                         wandering womb / hear ye

excavation site IV :

          puked pearls as small assemblies of prodigal suns
                    its papal bull / mercury in the veins
                                                                                          [tag 5, 6, 7]
                             a little ice age Lobotomizes
             attachment to another

excavation site V :

snap snap

A b-side to a one-sided story;
in 1961 my mother was three and not thinking of me
—and why should she;
My mother has something to say, now, to me: come home to me;
This call is a bruise; a bruise paling; paling like ice or sand, minerals, petrified wood—the bruise is the expression of delay—understood when the grip stops gripping;
First the pale fingerprint, then blue—does it speak to you? It speaks to me;
My mother says come home but what she means is how long will this go on; how long before telling her my regret over the phone becomes static; how long can a person can stand static before it becomes song; what tech will “ferret out ‘signals’ buried in ‘noise’”; and when, and who?
Will a man? Will someone like Richard G. Woodbridge III, ethnomusicologist, find music embedded in the grooves of ancient dishware by stroking the pots with a needle, as he swore he did in 1961?
A “crystal cartridge,” will they sing;
Will stroking the paint of ancient masters with this needle reveal the bruise of their colors, the conditions for their making?
Will bruising my skin with my finger reveal the conditions of my conception?Archaeocoustics, he called it; cauled;
The unearthing of music from dead matter; from artifact; as in: its birth minute—
A genetic minute inscribed in the material, as in: the pot remembers its potter
the way I remember my mother in accumulations;
Her voice as I practice saying Mom, mom; is also the practice of forgetting the condition of my making, because to think about it is to disassociate;
To hover above my body as if I am not attached to its condition libidinally, or by the imposition of culture which tells me to be grossed out by my parents’ love-making;
Beginning in the question: can we hear the makers making their made-things?
By coaxing the made-things out of their object-sleep—
I watched with glee / while your kings and queens / fought for ten decades / for the gods they made / woo woo woo woo;
Dead ivy scratching; at a window whose pane is paling with frost;
Where this line of questioning leads: is the birth scream of my mother sunk somewhere in my bones—?
If I scratch at thought can I hear her; if I behave as an archeologist, who makes slow and punctuated sweeps at a cochlea cupped in a mass of hard dirt;
Who swept my face with a piece of paper; as I burst from a sac balloon; this caul is a bruise;
A bruise paling like a fated baby;
If I fall in swoons upon procession with the dead will my ghost self speak?
Does the heirloom speak to you? Will she;
Does the process of excavation determine human worthiness—
How to read the undecayed, the underexposed; the amniotic voicing in a grassy underbelly—
Woodbridge, hopeful he’ll be remembered; hopeful as varnish, mauve and shellacked; hopeful as those financially backed can rustle time—just enough that he’ll be remembered;
In 1961 he swore he heard a word; “‘blue,’ [which] was located in a blue paint stroke—as if the artist was talking to himself or to the subject,”
to the gods they made / blue blue blue blue;
No one who has tried to recreate the experiment has had this result.

[tag 8]
                                                                                                     who winters
                                                                                                         who stays            in the fray

If I let mutter mother matter, it dates back longer than that;
Since to remember is to fear being forgotten—is the birth scream of my mother sunk somewhere in my bones?
A trauma lodges itself in the trapezius, tristeza, like the Spanish Inquisition c. 1478, aimed at erasing a history built from ritual, rhythm, choreography; triste, tristes
Harrowing the dirt; ossified, an object [from Medieval Latin objectum: thing presented to the mind] heresy is an internal threat; heresy
Says the words without believing them;
Wears a body without feeling it; it is not hungry, it is autonomic; it zooms out; look—there is someone lodged in the ice?
Since ice preserves what could be eaten later, ice is like devotion; faith beyond hunger; agriculture beyond famine; art beyond investment; a glacial moraine scooping up the ground;
A self-pitying nightingale shoving its desire into a register of preemptive mourning; sunrise upon;
Antarctica, the only continent “discovered” by European explorers, in the sense of the word that includes a body’s experience as well as conceptualizing territory, in space uninhabited up to that point;
Object [from Medieval Latin objectum: thing presented to the mind]
Barrenness; silences beyond scope; certain frozen death; blank page; Although we’ve come to the end of the road / Still I can’t let you go / It’s unnatural / you belong to me / I belong to you; ice is a mineral; hardly still;
But I am—I dwell in the abstract—I think of my mother who has declared herself not a poetry person; I think of pop songs like earworms trailing from a musical corpus;
Eons ago, that was eons ago;
I think of ice, how it is colorless unless flawed and cracked; bacteria bloat beneath the surface;
On the surface, bacteria cannot survive their conditions; the sea teems with unnamable species;
And divers call this engorging “The Cathedral;” in Encounters at the End of the World, Werner Herzog calls them “priests, preparing for mass;” they call the experience “holy;”
Maybe I was snowblind / but it seemed the wind spoke true / and I believed its stories then / as dreamers often do / in Antarctica.
The surface is not as it seems; sastrugi erects itself like an army of scorpions over the snow—but I do not—I call my writing weeping lemon meringue; it’s sweeter; I call my thinking a contextual bruise, its relay is its stitching;
Herzog then asks, “is there such a thing as insanity amongst penguins?”
As a choir soundtrack swells in the background, a fleeing penguin is filmed with his wings out wide; “this penguin is already 80 kilometers from where it should be…headed toward the interior of the continent…5000 kilometers ahead of him…let him go.”
White void; certain death; certain bruising toward death or color?
Madness—electric fishes; a false moon; yes yes triste tristes; to follow when the real one leads to death;
Clumsy as loneliness for one who has stuck themself away from a society which might force them to speak, and has discovered there is not much that really needs to be said, not because it’s been said already, but because chatter is a waste of gas;
Stare at the snow long enough, maybe forever, it slows you down: this calling is a bruise;
Jason Anthony, who has spent eight seasons there working as part of the U.S.’s Antarctica Program, discusses snow color, “Now I know: white is blue. Antarctica is not white. Look closely at the snow at your feet, even more closely at the snow out beyond. Where I say white, think pale reflected grays and incremental blues. When you ask which blue, think bruise behind lace. When you think hue, think oblivion.”
Anchorite tourmaline is found on every continent; it means “colorless;”
Like a chalk outline of a body on pavement; body tags mark the spot for forensic excavation; how cruel of the ice to preserve the flesh that wants to escape it.
Waste; coloration; a bruise is how many colors of human desire; a bruise is a long raceme of failure to speak; adamantine spar;
Under these conditions one may choose to armor herself in Siberian bear-hunting gear, so that the spikes turn outward; one becomes an urchin of the tundra;
A blank page breeds an armored specimen fearful of dying by what she hunts; something of the food chain here;
Help is never on the way when a child desires to rub the image of herself on the rock; when a midwife rubs its caul on a page; this calling is a bruise;
Pages threatened by the act that keeps them alive; thumbing; thumbing to stay alive; reading the Running element;
I am caught between being an urchin-bear hunter and a hunter of pages; huntress under the moon; dying for the blank page;
Dying, for the blank page is a water kingdom; quarry from which or(e) & the oxygen;
Or gold may be extracted; a reservoir in conceptual territory;
To think of writing as food; not desire for food; to think of writing as process; a sacrifice of living for the backward gesture of its capitulation;
(to See to See to Breathe(; page turns to ice(seasoning; a problem(; forgotten; writing is a bioengineered technology; writing is a problem; of variegation; of translation; of textiles;
of posthumous salve for the failure to speak; making time arbitrary; eons, that was eons ago;
She asks herself, when you clothe a monolith, does it become an emperor or a saboteur?
Each is a machine in a machine; destined to make imitations of grand origins, like a poet; her allegiance to ephemera while spitting up matter; minerals; vitamins;
We may be better off)cold color in the either; space between ruination and Oh let’s save
The (ruin( chopped up quartzite boulder;
the writing is synesthesia; a floating; high on a liquid of forgotten metaphors; cold otherworld bruising; with one
Crack(ing) down my middle; (the otherworld I mean; apophyllite with one) crack(ing);
I spread my yellow wound toward untoward shores & did not die; (nor) give up
The crumble(surrounding color must be neutralized for a neutral color to Color);
to go back to blue; come home to me—
I am not sad for the matter that assembles itself beneath hard dirt;
Under the archeological sheet like a memory under mental illness; an earworm;
But I am jealous of the dead, who are exempt from agony; I writhe under a white sheet;
Combinatory elements assemble themselves in terms of stakes: in terms of what
You hear v. What you imagine you hear; like using a cyanoscope to measure
the blue in the sky; a blip; the lifespan of the human in the geologic; an ekphrastic life;
Afterthought of artifice/experience; I respond to what I can’t experience in body
by inhabiting its image; a consecration;
Like the relationship of the desert and the sea;
One is the drained, dry version of the other, an evaporated version, a sand castle built by the bully of the tides; the other;
The sea itself is fullness, accumulation, all life in hiding; the sea bullies its cartographers, and v.v.

[tag 9]
                          diagnosis; prognosis; gnosis; amniocentesis ashes ashes

[tag 10]
                                            where is joy in a sac balloon; hot air

I mean to say: the material conditions for the flesh are unbearable and writing is medicine? Okay, medicine; spinal tap; drug;
For those who are attached to their own devastation, the promise of remaining on earth forever in the mercury shape of a bog person is a new type of recursive torture;
(Done with blue for now; the bruise turns green; dioptase; jade; emerald);
ow ow ow ow; the promise that millennials may be the first generation not to have to die;
That the body might stay put despite a desire to flee; the cruelty of ice as a salve for burning the roof of your mouth; for a clumsiness-toward-death;
If medicine ensures immortality and raises the dead; if sinna sinna in da mirra¹; qué será será;
At the moment of recognition, this devastation is a forest fire; it looks like it needs to be put out, but is actually a method of regeneration; restitching;
Object [from Medieval Latin objectum: thing presented to the mind]
A partner leaves me because I am irritable, full of self-doubt; these are conditions she insists I have created for myself through habits of writing;
I explain that conditions are not self-generating limbs; they are swallowed—a society is a hot box;
But it is no use; I write her a letter from my box—my urchin-armor whose spikes have curled in on themselves like a fig synconium and I its wasp, eating myself out; brazen bull;
I ask her what would she do without me; we like our writers to host the parasite of grief; but we don’t like its toll; disfigurement? Syphilitic, hemophilic bruises;
Madness from observation towers looking down at eel pools we’ve made to simulate the Sargasso Sea; why here;
A similar confusion of hatched turtles paddling toward what they think is the moon; neon empyrean; empyema;
And I wonder about hosting the parasite anyway, allowing myself to be covered in leeches, stung by bees, to purify the blood—
Want to cut them—want to cut me—out of this picture; in two; come home to me—
Like a worm’s bifurcation—a child’s chopping it in two on the sidewalk as a type of fascistic order to play it cool in body, maintaining the look of a live thing while an emotional life eats her out from the inside;
Like the fungus Aaspergillus tubingensis, which chews through polyurethane plastics;
It will likely be bioengineered to eat human garbage;
In this body I thought I wanted to be conquered; wilderness left open to razing; muse;
But waiting got boring; the commitment to anonymity became a commitment to incorruptibility;
Carrying the unwanted to term;
A saintly assumption that the life I was permitted was not the one intended by the metaphysicians, who diagnosed me with common language;
Now I am my own little god; straight lines itch; ow ow ow ow;
As I crawl out of the fig by swallowing the fruit flesh I call my conditions I have no place to shit;
I wonder why I have to crawl out of this fig only to burrow myself in another?
I scratch the inside, a crystal cartridge; I am nowhere in Antarctica, the frontier;
but I erase, by way of revision, the shame for having been at its mercy; to revise (to re-see) is to clone myself, becoming double; translating myself, recreating conditions for pain, and rebirth: and memory;
Now I am my own little mother; she disapproves of my fear of doppelgängers, my limbless torso, while I loop back to the laboratory;
I tell her the criminal always returns to the scene of the crime, to witness one’s own degradation; self-mothering;
Mom shakes her head; who loves like that? She asks; don’t you know what it’s like hear ice crack as you are walking out of your fish house?

[tag 11]

The problem with a love like that / fat spillage all across the microscope slide
      Is that you don’t recover
                           ~~~~~~~~~~no?~~no no~
as if the wind could fill in the eggs I’m lying

Writing is fragile; even if I manage to document there is no assurance of legacy;
I am fragile;
Ice accumulates, devotion stands in for heat; inhaling polyurethane plastics; frost swills in the knobs of the ice house walls;
The gesture of accumulation is comforting, like eating in front of the TV;
While metonymic descriptions, whether image or anecdotal, pile up;
Knowledge is not something out there; it is something shared; it is mimetic cumulus clouds, testimonies; headbanging along with the rest; hoarding things that already resemble me; hoarding things until they take on my appearance; specific colors; patterns; threads;
Eating till fullness is no longer a stutter in a never-ending chain of meals and waiting for them; retail-therapy;
Writing the thought becomes taxonomy of muscular tensions; pinching fat;
I know you are what you eat, and food is defined by tastes, or their occasional interruptions: less flow, more a bulldozer churning up garbage, then suddenly—!
Like, a raccoon standing there; a not-I;
Or: the engine sputters out; hip-hop, as I scratch it along the bowl, bottoms out;
It becomes obvious I am making it all up; I return to the dumpster;
It snows for a great length of time, maybe forever, and in which case the change in weather comes as a surprise; madness sets in;
I am no longer describing a radical practice, instead I describe adaptations, a subtle shift in molecular structure;
The degree by which iridescence reflects the sun’s in a polished saxophone;
I consume the space that surrounds me, I consume it as I consume, but do not pay attention to the phrase, less is more;
Because I desire to accumulate and cannot afford to value asceticism;
I cannot call this space a subtle body, diamond body, true and genuine body, rainbow body, light body, bliss body or immortal; I cannot reduce it to habitus, locality, proxemics, dwelling, or any other category that seeks to define a person by a particular context, to entrap her in tiers of pixelated invisibilia so that no person will ever wonder if her being, however deviant, was ever accidental;
A personal bubble; heresy’s internal threat; amniotic voicing;
Whereas external threats against a page: interrupted, invaded—by ink—conquistadores, oil spills, death squads, burglars, house fires, the US Army, forced exile, gang rape, ambush—trauma’s further distillation into simple interactions with other bubbles; make it;
So that even noise is a kind of pain for the hypervigilant, because the injury reverberates, like sound waves, through the spaces;
Pain accumulates, though noise is a matter of taste; pain creates meaning in Anais Nin’s famous dictum, “We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.”
It makes sense that the gesture of accumulation is not one of gathering toward oneself, to build a skyscraper of traumas as if to replicate a Cyclops of interiority; rather, to ping antennae.

[tag 12]
reading           Alphabet
transacted upon groups of muscles

muscles                                 [tag 13, 14]
Contracted in amber, with the ice, some archive, hard dirt, etc.,
                              Bowl of music / scratched hard enough
          essay in shards / lyric flayed

                  along time scrunched along
                                                     all along

¹ altered from a comic by Harry Hambley, Ketnipz comics.

Borrowed texts, in the order they appear:

Woodbridge, R. “Acoustic Recordings from Antiquity” (August 1969).
I watched with glee… lyrics from Sympathy for the Devil, by the Rolling Stones
Although we’ve come to the end of the road…     lyrics from “End of the Road,” by Boyz to Men
Maybe I was snowblind… lyrics from “Antarctica,” by Al Stewart
Anthony, J. “The East Antarctic and the Emptiness Within: Impermanence.”
Herzog, W. Encounters at the End of the World. Film Documentary.
Nin, A. We don’t see things as they are…
Habitus, locality, proxemics, dwelling….    coinage by Bordieu, Appadurai, Hall, and Heidegger, respectively.

M. J. Gette is author of the chapbook Poor Banished Child of Eve and the forthcoming OMBLIGO INTAGLIO by Ricochet Editions. Her criticism, poems and lyric essays have appeared or will appear in The Operating System, Cloud Rodeo, 3:am, DIAGRAM, Anthro/Poetics, BOAAT, Tupelo Quarterly and elsewhere. She won the 2015 Gloria Anzaldúa Poetry Prize for her chapbook The Walls They Left Us (Newfound, 2016), selected by Carmen Gimenez Smith, and the Black Warrior Review Flash Prose Prize, selected by Joyelle McSweeney (2017). She lives in Minnesota. @808omega