Thursday, June 04, 2009

After Cleaning Ashes Off the Dresser, I Sit Down to Read Artaud

"The sun seems to be staring
But it stares as if it were
staring at the sun."
Antonin Artaud

After cleaning ashes off the dresser I
sit down to read Artaud
it is like looking in the mirror
his mouth,
in one photo,
bleeds with one of his own bones stuck
there like a cigarette conspicuously
chewed out
with that
'how dare you crucify me when I'm not even'
looking' look
the self-conscious lips the over-
whelming invisibility
Artaud in 1920
the lines in the cheeks razorsharp
the icicle-scarred throat covered
carefully with a cadaverous scarf
Artaud the actor
Artaud of Boris Karloff eyes
eyes that rape heavens just by
looking up
Artaud who is wholeheartedly
hellish unthinkably so.
can I wipe the fire from your
face or must I wait for the ashes?
you who need no mirror to
look yourself in the eye.
you who defy mirros
who defy photographs
you who perpetually spit at the sun
and then demand protection.
tell me who you are
& why there is moonblood on
your fingers
tell me who you are
tell me who you are
& I will tell you how much
you escape.

By Jayne Lyn Stahl

First published in "Earth's Daughters," Buffalo, 1971

republished in "Fine China: Twenty Years of Earth's Daughters, " from White Pine Press