Friday, May 25, 2018

#18 Backstory of the Poem "ARTERIAL DISCOMBOBULATION" by Juliet Cook . . .

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***This is the eighteenth in a never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific poem and how the poet wrote that specific poem. 

Backstory of the Poem
by Juliet Cook

Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form? I can't be step-by-step process about it, because it was written several years ago, and I have memory issues, as well as a mild form of
aphasia - but I can tell you what inspired it. What inspired it was also somewhat related to my aphasia. The reason I have aphasia is
because when I was 37, I suffered from an unexpected carotid artery dissection, which caused an aneurysm, which caused a stroke. It resulted in some brain damage and it also seemed to result in divorce from my marriage, exactly one year later.  Following that combination of factors, I had discomfort and uncertainty and doubt and questioning and lack of trust related to true love and significant relationships, as well as fear that I might suffer from another unexpected carotid artery dissection/ stroke that made me immobile and/or even more disabled - that damaged my brain far away from the real me. 

Where were you when you started to actually write the poem? And please describe the place in great detail. What month and year did you start writing this poem?  (Right - Juliet Cook in December of 2011)  For similar reasons to the above, I can't describe this in a detailed manner either.  My brain has issues with dates and numbers,but I think the poem was
written sometime in 2011. I think it was written during theyear I was temporarily living with my parents, on the brink of and for several months after
my divorce.  I spent a lot of my time there inside a bedroom and the adjoining room where I had my computer installed. I
spent a lot of my time trying to write out my thoughts in different (Above Right:  Juliet Cook in her "Poet" socks) ways. My small space was filled with unorganized boxes and for a while I thought that was because I didn't have my own space during that time - and that once I
got my own space, I'd arrange itspecifically, creatively, uniquely, and in a clearly organized fashion.  But as it turns out, my current space, which IS my own space is still unorganized and cluttered. I am semi-frequently rearranging, misplacing, and
temporarily (sometimes permanently) losing hand written papers and notebooks 
and other items. For reasons such as these, I do most of my creative writing on my computer in recent years, because it's more save-able and find-able that way. 

What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem?  Readers can take whatever they choose to take from it. Hopefully, a few readers will be interested in it and/or moved by it and/or relate to it on their own personal, emotional levels and feel less alone, despite their distrust of love and fear of non-existence. (Above Right- Broken Doll Head copyright granted by Juliet Cook)

Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why?  
"What if my carotid arteries are predatory beasts?
What if they wish to slaughter my entire neck;
impale me?..."

"...what if
my whole personality gets impaled? What if
I can no longer walk, talk, dance, kiss, speak for myself,
read, or write poetry? What if I lose all my passion, lust,
interest and love?  What if another artery bleeds out
until it removes the real me?"

Nobody knows exactly what caused my carotid artery dissection, so part of me worries that I have weak or abnormal arteries and another serious health issue might happen.   A little over a year ago, I had a cat scan done to check my neck arteries and they liked healthy at that time.  But I still sometimes worry about suffering from another carotid artery dissection and either dying or existing as a body that doesn't have my own brain inside it anymore - or that does have my own brain inside it, but can no longer express my own thoughts and feelings.  (Above Left:  Poet's Eye attributed to and copyright granted by Juliet Cook) 

Has this poem been published before? And if so where?   This poem previously appeared upon an online site called Body of Words which published anonymous poetry and art and essays focused on parts of the body (and how they impacted one's mind on an individual level) and combined with a photo related to that body part.  My poem appeared alongside a photo of my neck. (Above Right) That site is now defunct, however.

The poem also appears within my second full-length poetry book, "Malformed Confetti", which is forthcoming from Crisis Chronicles Press in 2018. (Left - Angelina artwork for the jacket cover of "Malformed Confetti" attributed to Simona Candini)

Anything you would like to add?  Semi-related to what I mention in this interview, after I had the stroke, I had to relearn the alphabet and relearn to read and write.  For a while, I could no longer read poetry - and for a while after that, I could no longer understand poetry, not even my own previously written poetry. (Right:  Juliet Cook on October of 2017 copyright granted by Juliet Cook)

 After I regained my ability to read and write and understand, I was nervous about attempting to write new poetry, because I was worried that I wouldn't be able to anymore. Thank goodness, I found out I still could, although it did emerge a bit differently than it used to. It still felt like me, but a shorter, more abstract, more visual variation of me. (Left- The Poet's Hand attributed and copyright granted by Juliet Cook)

BOBULATION"  includes parts of my language that feel abstract and visual combined with parts of language that are more basic and emotional. But prior to that particular poem, I created and self-published a tiny chapbook-sized collection of poems called "POST-STROKE" that are short, abstract, but creatively emerged from my healing brain.


Slip - gaps vs. slit - gasps.
I don’t want to be a weak shell casing;
a broken stained crème brulee;
an irrational shape shifting bog.
Blobbing, clotting, throbbing pupa strangulation.
What if poisonous insects live inside my veins?
What if my carotid arteries are predatory beasts?
What if they wish to slaughter my entire neck;
impale me? Was that a bodily tremor or
a body bag streamer?


What might be sticking out my neck,
bursting forth from my discolored throat,
and what if it explodes? Am I wrong,
misshapen, on the brink of another dissection?
Will I lose another lover, more power, what if
my whole personality gets impaled? What if
I can no longer walk, talk, dance, kiss, speak for myself,
read, or write poetry? What if I lose all my passion, lust,
interest and love?  What if another artery bleeds out
until it removes the real me?

Juliet Cook's (Left on April of 2018 attributed to Dianne Borsenik) poetry has appeared in a small multitude of magazines, including Arsenic Lobster, DIAGRAM, Diode, FLAPPERHOUSE, Menacing Hedge and Reality Beach. She is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks, recently including POISONOUS BEAUTYSKULL
LOLLIPOP (Grey Book Press, 2013), RED DEMOLITION (Shirt Pocket Press, 2014), a collaboration with Robert Cole called MUTANT NEURON CODEX SWARM (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015), and a collaboration with j/j hastain
called Dive Back Down (Dancing Girl Press, 2015). Cook's first full-length individual poetry book, “Horrific Confection”, was
published by BlazeVOX and her second full-length individual poetry book, "Malformed Confetti" is forthcoming from Crisis Chronicles Press. Her most recent full-length poetry book, "A Red Witch, Every Which Way", is a collaboration with j/j hastain published by
Hysterical Books in 2016. She also sometimes creates abstract painting collage art hybrid creatures. She also serves as an editor and publisher for a small indie poetry press, Blood Pudding Press. (Left - Horrific Confection flyer attributed to 
Kristin Mahlen)

Dianne Borsenik

The Blood Pudding Press blog  https://bloodyooze.

The Blood Pudding Press shop https://www.etsy.

Juliet Cook's individual blog  https://doppel

Juliet Cook on Twitter

Crisis Chronciles Press Facebook Page


Backstory of the Poem Links

001  December 29, 2017
Margo Berdeshevksy’s “12-24”

002  January 08, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “82 Miles From the Beach, We Order The Lobster At Clear Lake Café”

003 January 12, 2018
Barbara Crooker’s “Orange”

004 January 22, 2018
Sonia Saikaley’s “Modern Matsushima”

005 January 29, 2018
Ellen Foos’s “Side Yard”

006 February 03, 2018
Susan Sundwall’s “The Ringmaster”

007 February 09, 2018
Leslea Newman’s “That Night”

008 February 17, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher “June Fairchild Isn’t Dead”

009 February 24, 2018
Charles Clifford Brooks III “The Gift of the Year With Granny”

010 March 03, 2018
Scott Thomas Outlar’s “The Natural Reflection of Your Palms”

011 March 10, 2018
Anya Francesca Jenkins’s “After Diane Beatty’s Photograph “History Abandoned”

012  March 17, 2018
Angela Narciso Torres’s “What I Learned This Week”

013 March 24, 2018
Jan Steckel’s “Holiday On ICE”

014 March 31, 2018
Ibrahim Honjo’s “Colors”

015 April 14, 2018
Marilyn Kallett’s “Ode to Disappointment”

016  April 27, 2018
Beth Copeland’s “Reliquary”

017  May 12, 2018
Marlon L Fick’s “The Swallows of Barcelona”

018  May 25, 2018

019  June 09, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “Stiletto Killer. . . A Surmise”

Saturday, May 19, 2018

"A Leper's Lips Unswelled For Prayer" - Bruce Beasley's "ALL SOUL PARTS RETURNED"

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**Some of the links will have to be copied and then posted in your search engine in order to pull up properly

CRC Blog Analysis:
Bruce Beasley’s
All Soul Parts Returned
“a leper’s lips unswelled for prayer”

Under what conditions must we formulate our prayers?
As though a leper’s scabbed lips
unswelled enough for speech”
--page 81 Excerpt, “Revised Catechism:  ON PRAYER”

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.  As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”  When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.  One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.  Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?  Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”  Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
--Luke 17:  11-19

BOA Editions LTD published Bruce Beasley’s poetry collection in its American Poets Continuum Series 163 All Soul Parts Returned on October 10, 2017; Copy Art by J.B. Murray courtesy of the J.B. Murray Estate; Cover Design by Sandy Knight; and Interior Design and Composition by Richard Foerster.

       Beasley has written seven other poetry collections:  Theophobia, BOA Editions LTD; The Corpse Flower, University of Washington Press; Lord Brain, University of Georgia Press; Signs and Abominations, Wesleyan; Summer Mystagogia, University Press of Colorado; The Creation, Ohio State University Press; and Spirituals, Wesleyan.
       Beasley’s All Soul Parts Returned consists of 123 pages of poetry divided into six parts: 

Prologue Poem:  Torn-to-Pieces-Hood;

Part 1 Thou Must Leave;

Part 11 Disorientation Psalm for Schopenhauer;

Part 111 Hymeneal;

Part 1V The Sixth Dust;

Part V The Man of the Ordinary. 

And Nonordinary to the Poems:  Notes and Definitions

Prologue Poem:  Torn-To-Pieces-Hood
       In the first poem of the collection “Torn-To-Pieces-Hood” the speaker of the poem’s soul is shredded and dismembered into tiny pieces, each piece still alive, each full of despair, shattered needing to be once again, whole.
       The speaker of the poem is seeking to assemble all the pieces of his soul and put them together properly in order to make himself whole and he does this through prayer and meditation in the Catechism, Buddhist, and Hindu traditions.  Along the way he experiences doubt, depression and yet manages to pray and meditate.  The speaker of the poem calls his condition of shredded soul mass:  A mass is a collection of incoherent parts seen nevertheless as a   singular entity.  A/ mass of errors.  Torn-to-pieces-hood as a mass of rent remainders that populate, all/ unknowingly, the ordinary. 
He then realizes that the damaging of the soul is the same element that consists of the healing of the soul:  So Despair can kill what cannot die.  Despair’s a mortal sin, one that makes the soul/ rejoice, ironically, in its own mortality. (Below Photo:  The Guibourg Mass by Henry de Malvost in the book La Satanisme et la Mogie by Jules Bois - Paris 1903)

Part 1:  Thou Must Leave
       In the poem “Me Meaneth” the calf is “meaning” in the pasture, which is defined by Google search as communicating “what is meant by a word, text, prayer concept, or action or to communicate something that is not directly expressed.”
      In the third stanza the lambs that have been weaned from their mothers still “mither” which means “to pester constantly or make an unnecessary fuss.”    
       The calf and the lamb are poetic images of how humanity should pray – with sincerity and with the consistent cries of a newborn baby – never silencing its cries until it is given its mother’s milk.  (Above Right:  Prophet Elijah as fire from Heaven consume the sacrifice.  Attributed to James Tissot)
   The symbolism of the lamb and its mother could refer to the poet and his deceased mother and the speaker-of-the-poem’s realization that he will never experience his mother again (Left) (Copyright granted by Bruce Beasley):  She’s senseless now, as if nothing/ available anymore to her fivefold senses/ She’s meaningless, as in/  
impervious to any further meanings, as/ in incapable of grieving ever again.
       In “Reading Jesus Again, With A New Prescription” the speaker of the poem prays to Jesus a prayer of doubt, of questioning:  My hands keep snatching at air./ Before Abraham was, I am, You said.  And still are:/ I hope You are.
No matter how strenuous the speaker of the poem prays for Jesus to reveal Himself to him, Jesus continues to remain hidden from him which turns his doubt into anger:   I’ve been doing what You told me not to: praying/  with vain repetition./ Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen amen,/ many of my supplications go:/ terminous without genesis, Apocalypse/ with no Torah. (Left Above:  The Incredulity of St. Thomas by Caravaggio)

Part II Disorientation Psalm For Schopenhauer
       The speaker of the poem scolds the pessimist philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in the poem second section “Disorientation Psalm for Schopenhauer.”  (Portrait of Arthur Schopenhauer by Jules Lunteschulz in 1855)

In “Reading The Purpose Driven Life, With Schopenhauer” the speaker of the poem converses with Shopenhauer about his experiences and responses to Rick Warrren’s (Left) mutli-bestseller The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For?: 
This book sold 32 million in hardback./ We’ll find our purpose there, together. Especially now./ There’s been another massacre; twenty first graders/ mowed down in ten minutes in their classroom./ The President says we must take meaningful action/ but hasn’t said yet what meaningful might mean.
The speaker of the poem compares Warren’s purpose of living to what purpose Adam Lana had in slaughtering the Sandy Hook Elementary children (Left) or what purpose God had in allowing, controlling, or not stopping Adam Lana (Below Right) from killing those innocent children?  And the speaker of the poem comes to the conclusion that this is a question no one – not even God – can possibly answer:  The point is, we can’t get the point.
       The next few lines the speaker of the poem portrays God as an animal – one that devours pleasure for Himself from humanity:  Our pleasure’s never the point./ It’s God whose pleasure counts.  We’re here/ to please Him.  That’s our First Purpose.  He watches us/ while we sleep.  He sniffs and licks His lips.

Part 111 Hymeneal
       In “Part III Hymeneal” the marriage between lovers is celebrated with the prayer between birds; and the sincerity and authenticity of these love songs between two lovers is questioned:  is it sincere and authentic or is simply the lovers mimicking the same songs they were taught by their ancestors?  This is a question that could apply to the individual praying to his or her god.  Is it sincere or simply mimicry? (Above Left - Bruce and his wife Suzanne Paola.  Copyright granted by Bruce Beasley)

Section IV The Sixth Dust
In “Revised Catechism On Prayer” the speaker of the poem asks numerous questions throughout the piece:  What is prayer?  When is a good time to pray?  How do we gain the confidence that our prayers have actually been heard and answered?  The speaker of the poem answers his own question:  As though a leper’s scabbed lips/ unswelled enough for speech.
The questions continue in “Revised Catechism:  On Catechism:” should we find satisfaction in our actual prayer requests, the answers to our prayer, or the Person who answers the prayer?  Is it possible that the answer to our prayer can actually be an answer of errors?
       And the questions continue in “On Prayer:”  How might our prayers to be expected to alter the will of God? And in “On Catechism:”  “May we question also that which is not dubitable?”
Part V  The Mass of the Ordinary   
       In the poem “Kyrie” the speaker of the poem asks another question:  Lord:  are You/ particularly pleased with the way I am? 
The one individual in scripture who can honestly say “yes” to that question is the same person Beasley refers to when he writes:  As though a leper’s scabbed lips/ unswelled enough for speech.
This same leper who
exemplified prayer to its fullest was the most marginalized of his age; reviled for having leprosy and for being a Samaritan and yet he had the courage and the faith to ask Jesus for help.  One could say he had the self-confidence and the self-love to believe himself important enough to ask someone as important as Jesus to hear his prayer, listen to his prayer and to grant his request.  Jesus answers the leper’s prayer along with his nine leprous friends and this is where the leper exemplifies what prayer should be – grateful enough to stop his celebrating and return back to the person who granted his request and say thank you.  (Above Right:  The Leper by James Tissot)

This “thank you” impressed Jesus and touched His heart to where he tells the already cured leper: “Rise and Go; for your faith has made you well.”  The leper has already been cured of his leprosy by Jesus so what did Jesus mean by “your faith has made you well.”  We don’t know for sure perhaps Jesus prevented him from future physical harm; granted him a long and fruitful life; a peaceful death in his old age.  Or it could be simply that Jesus imparted His wisdom to the leper by answering all the questions that Bruce Beasley asks in All Soul Parts Returned.

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