The Hypertextual Poem; a Teaching Tool or just Pleonasm?

We grew accustomed to sharing the story of each poem; we were not willing to kill the author too quickly. When we were teenagers in the 90s – few of us had ever attended an actual poetry reading.

Our intent was simple; share your poem and your feelings towards it and we’ll discuss it as long as you want to.

Ray had an amplifier that he lay on its back, speaker to the sky, we sat in a circle and passed the microphone between us.

One thing was certain with us – we wanted to know the story behind the poem we were hearing.

Now, it seems, this is neither easy nor cared for among the established poetry circles.

I had the thought this morning while combing through a series of old poems that I could experiment with a form I once thought had potential – I wanted to write poetry hypertextually.

The poem would stand as itself and would have an unobtrusive platform from which would explain the history, the intent, the story behind and within the poem.

I hypertextualized and footnoted a poem some time ago and never felt any need to share it with anyone but myself and figured this poem could be the Friday post.

The poem was a wonderful homage of sounds and great flavors in dedication to the gnostic god, Abraxas. I first learned about Abraxas when I read Hermann Hesse’s bildungsroman, “Demian.” That story still stands as one of the more influential texts of my life.

When my father read the poem he, as he always has, asked me what the poem meant. Where did I get the ideas from? What did this mean?

I’ve always had a soft spot for talking poetry with my electrical engineer father; he couldn’t understand it without me and yet – he really does show a great appreciation for the poet’s work. I don’t believe he’s ever missed a performance of mine.

It’s in those conversations where I have the opportunity to share, to teach, to explain poetry to another person that I feel that light from within shining with a suggestive radiance saying, “this is why you do this.

I always encourage poets to share more of the background, the reasons, the history of their ideas – hopefully someone will hypertextualize and footnote another poem someday in the way that I am going to now… I advocate the use of hypertext and footnotes because it still provides the reader with the option of the author being dead or still alive from inside the poem. Furthermore, as I mentioned, being a teacher of creative outlets – this method has the potential for grand conveyance of information.

And so, I ask you, does this add to? Subtract from? Deter the reader? What does utilizing poetry as a teaching tool, a conduit of information, in this way do for you?

Abraxas…
 
Abraxas staves his mood he
plays his saxophone in a tame and scaly
Coltrane¹ refrain.
 
He parallaxes² this duality with a note –
 
“From, where I have been to –
where I may go.”
 
From here on!
 
Abrasax³ plays his saxophone
relaxes his throats to coax
notes out in a slow tone
melodious melodrama to make
 
synthesis⁴
 
Abraxas expounds
upon a brass saxophone with notes
hung stark. The air of negative
sky space of
white sky
black stars
slated moon.⁵
 
Abraxas plays a brass sax
and moans an abracadabra
abacas – he counts his toes
tally the tacks
across rods…
 
Abraxas smacks his
beak together and blows
deeper, Gillespien⁶ style,
while all the feathers
flutter from his head
to quill the dirt with
incantations…
 
The feathers dance like
hovering gnats
pirouetting like an autumn ballerina of leaves
twisting a child tornado on the sidewalk,
 
“IO IO IO IAO SABAO KURIE!⁷” Reads the dust!
 
And justly a brass saxophone blows deeper
than a reflection of facing mirrors.
 
Abracas abracadabracally constructs a melody
that human ears are not made to hear.
 
Like Goethe’s architectural music⁸ Abraxas
apexically dances a slithering moon walk and
moors the planets to earth.
 
Venus and mars tethered to the pantheon
 
Earth – no longer orbiting between love and war.
 
Abrasax plays his brass saxophone Orpheusly
and tames the conflict within me.
 
A cobra hisses
from behind his back
a rattle scatters (like the pills
scitter across a tiled floor from a last moments
peace – where you change your mind.)
 
Abraxas blows his saxophone and a beaked
last hiss without lips caws in the skylight.
 
The pillars fall to his ouroboros shoes and Abraxas
now with cigarette in beak –
 
moans a melismatic, perfectly poised, beautifully poetic –
 
cock-a-doodle-do
 
as the sun rises around us – in an unashamed world.

¹ I was schooled by Elizabeth Ross in my misuse of Coltrane’s name here; I am aware now that Coltrane was only a trumpet player and not a saxophone player. The name, however, fits with the sounds and alliteration remains for the effect of the poem.

² The idea behind Abraxas utilizing parallax as a verb makes perfect sense; what Abraxas stands for is his ability to collapse the columns of opposing forces. Abraxas was God and the Devil in one being. Thus seeing something from two different angles he was able to, double entendre-ically, play a note on his sax and leave the following note which just further states his purpose.

³ The multitudinous ways in which historians and very cultures have spelled the name, “Abraxas,” over the years is astounding. To the Egyptians he was a combination of the words, “Abrak,” and, “Sax,” which translated to, “the word is adorable,” or, “the honorable and hallowed word.” Some scholars speculate a Greek derivation from the words, Habros,” and, “Sac,” translated as, “the eye-catching, the successful liberator.”

⁴ Why just synthesis? By itself? Consider what the, “Hegelian Dialectic,” teaches us; all positions become relative to the person in a trifold manner stating that only through the conflict of a thesis and corresponding anti-thesis can one find absolute truth in the synthesis of this conflict… Precise Abraxas nature exemplified.

⁵ This idea starting to come because of tossing the name Abraxas around to see what else would come out of it. Often times, with sound poetry, poets with place single words in their mouths repeating them and all of their noises and syllables, tossing it from cheek to tooth to tongue like a wine they’ve just sniffed – from this comes a multitude of noise. Naturally words like Abracadabra, which speculatively comes from his name, and Abacas were two that came out. With this we have the notes of Abraxas’ saxophone leaving the sax to create stars on the day sky. The slated moon is just the sheet music that it created. And furthermore the sheet music, with it’s notes, creates an abacas.

Dizzy Gillespie was known for cheeks puffed out like canyons, you could probably hear an echo in that mouth.

⁷ From Aleister Crowley‘s Gnostic Mass, “Liber XV Ecclesiæ Gnosticæ Catholicæ Canon Missæ.” A friend, Dylan, had painted a near 6 foot tall portrait of Abraxas; across the top of which was written this chant.

⁸ While it is well known that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe stated the he called, “architecture frozen music,” I found an expansion on this idea in the novel, “House of Leaves,” by Mark Z. Danielewski that I felt worth mentioning further, “The unfreezing of form [of architecture] releases that music. Unfortunately, since it contains all the harmonies of time and change, only the immortal may savor it. Mortals cannot help but fear those murmuring walls. After all do they not still sing the song of our end?” Once we can hear what the immortals deem, “music,” then we too must be immortal and, necessarily, dead among them.

 

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