Donald Wellman: God is love

  Donald Wellman

  God is love

 

I won’t speculate or elaborate on this article of faith. I have no faith.
When I’m aware of the smallest dilation of blood vessels in my brain,
I know I’m in the presence of God. I seek no arguments. No code
of behavior. No personification. My philosopher heroes were pantheists.
I’m not. Neuronal pulses have generated my God. A brain disorder.
When a boy, in my Edenic age I tasted ayahuasca from a clay pot.
The night sky parted the jungle canopy. Shadows of black on blue
on black. In the throes of young love, a godly stranger from la-la land
whispered incitements. A palisade lay among the folds of the vaginal rose.
Reason counselled desist. Love’s Barons in playing card costumes, urged me on.
‘Més convint le palis casser.’ As written down by Jean de Meune.
When I awoke I lay beside a stream, ‘a faire felde ful of folke’
lay between me and the tower. An icy wind. Jesus you squeezed
my heart and made it bitter. O tantum ergo sacramentum.
Aquinas then Ignatius of Loyola pierced my soul, incipient devotion.
George Herbert wrote, ‘who of the lawes sowre juice sweet wine did make.’
I kissed the bishop’s emerald ring. My Lord, I have no need of you.
‘My thoughts are all a case of knives.’ Whence do visions arise?
On what desert shore? At the hostage exchange site an ambush befell.
Faces smeared with black grease, jackets and pants, desert camouflage
of American origin. Sunni or Sufi? Only faces in the gloom with dilated eyes.
‘Poetry is complicit with death,’ writes Alain Badiou (54).

I began this meditation in a medieval garden.
The walls like the flesh that encapsulates the soul.
A fountain sprayed the sky with its stars, sun and moon.
I summoned the God of Love, shadows, like wings,
followed him and his footprints came so close behind
they were indistinguishable from mine. ‘Tan cerca vamos andando,
que el pie que mi paso aleja / viene su huella dejando.’
Reading again, Jardín cerrado, I dream of the many trees
that are one. An innocent pulsation dilates my facial muscles,
‘un sacudimiento … de donde surge el alma,’
eye sockets swell with bruised lust. Haunted by melancholy,
I played the mathematician in James Thurber’s Many Moons.
Our next door neighbor believed in the curative power of prayer.
Her father founded the Seacoast Mission. She and her friend,
Mrs. Dale, would gather with other women around the bed
of a stricken female friend and kneel and pray without laying on hands
or audible murmuration. The power of the psychic force which is God
was for them a healing desperation, a soulful wringing of hands.
Touching, forbidden. For my part, I testify that God resides in the heat
generated by the sense organs: lips, penis, vagina, clitoris, eyes.
‘Principles of connexion or association we have reduced to three,’
writes David Hume, ‘namely, Resemblance, Contiguity, and Causation;
which are the only binds that unite our thoughts (139).
I read ‘What Every School Boy Knows.’ Felt patronized.
Passion, unlike reason, turns man into a hunted dog
and fills a goddess with scorn. In the correspondent senses
that may be felt within the body of another,
are absolute contingency and the chaos of unnamable vomit.
Even in the coarse texture of stale communion bread,
the soul may become aware of an inward thrill
that is love and it desires to communicate itself,
a happiness to be shared. Splash water on your face
and feel how the membranes of the eyelids quicken.
My God responds to a haptic touch that some share.
I am contained within an envelope like silk,
that secretes a sticky goo. Sometimes like coarse wool,
it produces a rash or migraine. The nausea that arises
when stones are pressed against the eye until the eye balls ache
like swollen gonads. God dwells in the taste buds.
The force that without sex or gender is a susurration
that eases painful agonies and fears that propel the brain
toward private hells. O hear my prayer, If you are or know
the gift of healing music, as is proclaimed by Pericles
in the play of that name by Shakespeare; if you are more
than the drumming in my ears that arose among the Yoruba.
When I lose my balance and fall into your embrace, hold me!

I followed a winding path through a torturous dale,
I lay beside a fountain, where I read of the Pearl.
Her mournful father who paced the opposite shore.
Or was it an allegory by William Blake in which my spirit
had been called forth from within my ribs and took
the form of a diaphanous maid. Nonetheless philosophy
has now become set theory and I struggle to digest
the difference between ‘one’ and the ‘count as one.’
I learn that ‘where the count as one fails stands God.’
Love stands in the darkness where chaos and inconsistency
form coherent statements, everywhere and nowhere, equally.

Donald Wellman
Donald Wellman

Donald Wellman is a poet and translator. As editor of O.ARS, he produced a series of annual anthologies of experimental work, including Coherence (1981) and Translations: Experiments in Reading (1984). His poetry works with sources from several languages. His collections include Roman Exercises (Talisman House, 2015), The Cranberry Island Series (Dos Madres, 2013), A North Atlantic Wall (Dos Madres, 2010), Prolog Pages (Ahadada, 2009), and Fields (Light and Dust, 1995). He has translated books by Antonio Gamoneda, Emilio Prados, Yvan Goll, and Roberto Echavarren. Albiach / Celan: Reading Across Languages is forthcoming (2016) from Annex Press.

 

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