Category Archives: hypertext poetry

Prometheus Modernized; Rosa Parks as Grand Theft Deity.

Scott Jones,

Two Sundays ago we sat expounding poetic waxings in my living room and while we spoke on a range of varied topics there was one specifically that stood out to me; the idea of modernizing gods and mythos. A week later I had the inspiration of Paul Ekman, with all of his faces, being some form of a modernized Janus and this morning I had the inspiration of something far more intense.

As you know Sunday, March 7th, 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march marked as Bloody SundayThis morning Amanda and I were catching up on last night’s Daily Show and both of us were really quite moved by the interview with congressman John Lewis.

While Lewis spoke of his time as a youth in the south and shared the stories of meeting Dr. Martin Luther King jr. and Rosa Parks I was struck, overcome, confounded by a poetic feeling that truly confused my senses as if I was truly being inspired in the sense of this poem appeared to literally be breathed (spired) into (in-) me from elsewhere and I knew this woman…

…must be our Prometheus.
Rosa Parks; Prometheus Modernized.

And she reaches a black hand
through the ash and grasps
the roots and trunk of a centuries
aged olive tree; bent at hips
and tree tip to flame ignites
the leaves and branches –

now fire as foliage and raising
the torch of a colossal olive
branch she twists into a flaming
centrifugal force and hurricanes
the gods approaching, the gods
closing in, falling in – she spins.

Her fists clasping the whirling bark
and branch of an enkindled
and coruscating olive tree; she
vortexes a capital H-E-R
HERicane collapsing concentric,
conflagration, circles of gods in piles at her feet.

Grand Theft Deity…

She dives from Olympus terminal
velocity unheard, blurred
and muffled by her sonic booms.
Careening back, cratering the Alabama
Earth beneath her feet and sits…
She keeps the fire     safe.

She hides the flames in her
resting feet. Tinder
and kindling a blaze within
her heart
febrifuged beneath her
bobby pinned hat and whispers…

All people have
earned their grip
upon this torch

And straightening herself
her posture as perfect,
as confident, as the human
form is built for she knows
so from, and for, bones
and muscles are the tools

that straighten her spine.
Knowing only sinews
and joints thrust chins
upward; knowing the
blades beneath her skin
pull back her shoulders.

Knowing only vertebrae
that turns her head;
knowing only lateral
and superior rectus
muscles to be turning
her eyes – to meet his.

And knowing – it is the
brachioradialis muscle
that forms his fists;
knowing his vocal cords
and tongue are what
forms his mouth to say…

Get up… Get up now…
Get to the back 
of the fucking bus NOW!.

Her eyes close a composed
moment and resting blink
she knows his skin color
did not clench those teeth and fists;
she knows her skin color
did not part her lips; the fire her skin

encases is what breathed
(deeper than the reflection
of facing mirrors)
and respired breathless
into the blazing, historically
echoing inferno, that spoke…



The Reverse Distribution of Happiness


     Yesterday you sent me a poem by Robert Hass called, “The Distribution of Happiness.”  

Bedcovers thrown back,
Tangled sheets,
Lustrous in moonlight.

Image of delight,
Or longing,
Or torment,

Depending on who’s
Doing the imagining.

(I know: you are the one
Pierced through, I’m the one
Bent low beside you, trying
To peer into your eyes.)

     While I was moved by the poem itself – its meaning, its intimacy, it’s unique expression of love and passion the way few understand it; I was moved more by when I put my usual practice of reading poetry backwards that I found where and how the meaning was held for me, for us…

To peer into your eyes here
bent low beside you
I am the one pierced
through what I know
to be true: you are the one.

We do this, this, imagining
and turn our torment,
our longings into images
of delight.

And you – lustrous beneath
moonlit tangled sheets –
I throw back your bedcovers
and see the distribution
of my happiness.

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 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
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
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 –
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.