35 victims of sexual assault/abuse are on the cover of New York Magazine right now. When I saw an image of the cover on facebook, I immediately clicked on it, anxious to see what it was. 35 women story-telling the gross abuse they suffered at the hands of Bill Cosby. It’s a picture of 35 regular women, sitting in chairs, in their normal clothes, not trying to be beautiful, not trying to be weak. It hadn’t completely hit me yet what this really meant. The article begins with helpful background info on the debilitating Bill Cosby epidemic, as well as the fascinating hypothesis that young women, with their loud voices, are giving other women the courage to speak out against their perpetrators. Then the first victim’s story began. There was something very familiar. I know that state of mind when you wake up, eerily thinking, I just missed something. I know that dark and psychedelic feeling when you realize that what just happened to you (while you were sleeping) involves your personal health, diseases and some heavy breather’s gluttony, self-interest, obsession, addiction, habit. The breather stretches you open, doing whatever it wants to your body. I imagine myelf as rag doll, a blow-up doll, a limp body, more than asleep–unconscious. The only way to describe it: it feels like you just got raped. It is what it is– a phrase that usually dramatically portrays a really bad scenario or emotional upheaval, as in, when I came home and saw that someone had just broken into my house and stolen all my new sh!t. It was like I just freaking got raped, yo. Abruptly, a queasy sickness and an indecipherable numbness hit you. You get the sweats, puke somewhere, probably on yourself. A muteness comes from the horror of your own stupidity– for letting yourself get fu@ked like this (pun intended). Then there’s the way people look at you with a face that tells you that you can never ever bring that story up ever again; they basically beg you to shut up with their eyes. The most regrettable shame blossoms, flourishing in your own self-punishment, anger and helplessness. You talk the most sh!t about yourself, more than anyone else. So, why did the Bill Cosby victim’s story feel like a memory? I’ve never met the guy, but I recognize the tactics. I’ve seen those same moves being used today (“a product of experience-based research”) [I’m still dysfunctionally attached to the silence, so I make my trauma scientific]. After the first victim’s story, I took a break from reading. Now I’m over here on my blog trying to sort through flurries of thought. Maybe this is why the Cosby cover is blowing my mind. It’s releasing me from solitary confinement.
While writing some new poetry yesterday, a large division appeared that organized my works into two categories depending on the implementation of imagery. Though I unknowingly (or subconsciously) modified my techniques throughout the writing process, once I finished and reflected on the day, I realized that I had used to different methods of composing “vivid imagery” in the drafts.
I am obsessed with imagery. O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D. While I write, I slow down at every line hunting for abstract language that can be replaced with a concrete image. Generally, my imagery functions as symbolism, setting, reader transference, mood and even just straight up “trippiness.” For example, I would replace “He was useless” with “he was a soaked paper towel,” something like that.
During the building of the first poem, I focused on the image as a symbol (in terms of comprehension), while attempting to double up on an image’s “vibes” or “trippiness.” The images weren’t supposed to paint a picture, but take the reader on a journey toward a certain understanding which can only be described as insight or a feeling– which the reader experiences at the end (volta). To bring it all together, I wrestle with a metaphorical theme, and I want to say some semblance of story. However, in these poems there really isn’t any story; there is no chronology at all. I don’t have a term for it other than “nonlinear” work. A classic example of this type of writing is Jim Morrison’s poetry.
The next few poems that came out were significantly shorter, linear, not surreal and uncomplicated. One was a haiku; the other two were brief (like four-six lines, one or two stanzas) and free verse. Instead of symbol, each image was, well, what it was. There was a golden pickup truck, water spilling, two dogs I’ve never seen before…etc. Each image functioned to bring together not a picture, but a tiny movie scene or even a gif.
Notably, a significant overlap occurred at the ends of each poem. They all had an image (surreal or realist) that resulted in a volta. So–maybe, I’m actually more obsessed with voltas, if all the use of my concrete imagery must produce a volta? Am I bashing these images into a funnel? I’d prefer to think that I’m pouring one ingredient at a time which then results in the volta product–like the action of stacking, or the opposite of stacking (depending on how you look at it).
Then, I ask myself (and you, of course), are the surreal poems linear because they must be organized in a particular way in order to produce a poignant or insightful volta? Another question– Can a piece of writing be linear without chronology? Or does linearity automatically imply some sort of chronology?