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Thursday, 4 September 2014

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore: Faced


The blue city, dotted with green (Jodhpur, India): photo by Soylentgreen23, 10 August 2004

I'm faced with what I've got, Lord.
No two walls the same, no two doors.
No two hills under clear blue sky, no two thoughts.
It's a long journey when we take the
....long way around.
I'm bereft. Uncertainty is a single heartbeat in an
..echoing room. Nothing we say can
really be far from the truth. If words
sound so, look so, they link so
......closely to
Majesty's cloud of white light
come explosively from
inside horizons of space brought
together in one drop of
water hanging balanced perfectly from the
Look in there. We are
all in there. Lord, I'm
..faced with
....what I've got.

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore: Faced (1989), from Facing Mecca (2014)


A water drop: photo by Sven Hoppe, 2005

File:2006-01-28 Drop-impact.jpg

Impact of a drop of water on a water-surface: photo by Roger McLassus, 2006

File:2006-01-14 Surface waves.jpg

Surface waves of water (expansion of a disturbance): photo by Roger McLassus, 2006


TC said...

And then there are the poets one reads for spiritual company, gratefully, when all else fails.

Cancer (June 21 2013)

Baseball Station Epiphany (2 September 2013)

Of My Mother, 92, with Alzheimer's (15 May 2014)

TC said...

And then there are the deadbeat zombie demento bloggers.

And then there is the necessary embarrassing correction by dawn's early light.

Baseball Stadium Epiphany

Though I do like the idea of a baseball station epiphany. May have actually experienced one of those, in fact, involving WCFL Chicago, somewhere back in the early Mesozoic, but... long story

In any case, not Abdal-Hayy's fault.

(When Beyond the Pale is wheeled into the stadium, the crowd rises, groans as one, and flocks toward the exits.)

Be the BQE said...

Your comments took me back to Baseball Station Epiphany. It's interesting to me how both poems explore the tension of the individual and collective. In Baseball, it's the poet's (poem's?) "sudden ecstatic flight" outward from the crowd, in Faced, it's the plea by the poet to the Lord to "look in." In both, "the good of all" is at stake.

TC said...


Well said. Yes, the pleasure of feeling the poem discovering itself is always a particular joy in reading this poet -- especially so because, as you suggest, the voyage of discovery each poem seems to make is, finally, a journey toward the light -- whether inside or outside, grand and glorious or fine and concentrated and elusive and just or almost entirely out of reach... yet somehow still in there or out there somewhere, waiting to be found.

And yes, we're all included in that trip the poem offers, and there is no charge, and no baggage required. Indeed, we learn to understand that there is no baggage we will need on that trip, the baggage would only be an impediment in any case.

What I respect most in the work is the humility and respect that acknowledges the collective of all souls and refuses to escape into the unfortunately now all too common mode of not saying whatever it is the poem wants to say... because of course that boils down in most cases either to nothing at all, or something too banal and/or trivial to make plain without embarrassment.

So that the cover stories, the inertia and evasion along with the coy and clever construction of coded hints and vaguely connected clue-bits woven into the precious fabric of a reiterative whinging private narrative become a substitute for the poem that isn't there.

With Abdal-Hayy I never feel that, and am instead relieved to feel that I can actually get what the poem is getting at, and that it is something that matters, some matter of small or large joy of delight or suffering or knowledge or vision, in which we all may share, and from which we all may learn, illuminating, humbling, uplifting all at once, as it seems poetry was once meant to be, before it became the embarrassing competitive business it is today -- something hardly worth speaking of, especially when in the presence of the real article.

Anonymous said...

Look in there. We are
all in there.

Is it pedantry or poetry to wonder who he is addressing? "Lord," the painfully specific (himself) or the diffused generic (everybody else). Possibly all three, which would be ideal, where each looks and sees what they got, all three at once, in tandem, as though on a wobbly bike, momentarily bloated by a certain fullness, ready to burst to the bottom of the basin.

Yes, I like this very much.

TC said...

Thank you Brad, me too likewise.

"Lord," here, seems to be uttered in a tone of deep modesty, as a kind of outcry, from the darkness, toward the light, which seems to be at once all around us, and nowhere. That explosive light seems to contain itself within, while also paradoxically bursting uncontrollably out from, a deep, remote blackness, located in a tiny point at the centre of the light.

Of course I cannot speak for Abdal-Hayy, but when in poetry or song I hear that word, it seems to mean one kind of thing, and when I hear it in prayer or other forms of devotion, it seems to mean another kind of thing, with, no doubt, all sorts of connotational crossover happening -- particularly when we feel that it is uttered with sincerity.

The tone and the emotion and the believability of the feeling conveyed are the things that matter to me, when I come to try to accept that word, which I don't think anyone really takes entirely lightly, even when it is merely an imprecation ejected into the atmosphere without any particular content, in our common use of language.

The feeling for me is that there is an address qualified by the speaker's humility in respect to that which is addressed. Whatever or whoever it is that we implore in times of extremity, then. That sense of a heartbeat in an echoing room -- a medical situation, perhaps, or perhaps simply the terrifying privacy of one's own space, in the middle of the night. Or the day. Need is always present, by implication, in that gesture of speech. The uncertainty that bounds this space is not the "negative capability" of a potentially powerful freedom, as I hear it -- more like a supine helplessness, an I can't go on, I'll go on.

It is always oddly consoling, for me anyway, when the language of belief is sincerely and openly employed, in an emotional situation.

To me it hardly matters whether or not there is a system of belief "behind the arras", as it were.

But then I am not what would commonly called a believer in much of anything.

This once seemed a perverse point of pride, curiously enough.

Now it seems more like a salient deficit.

System may well be overrated these days, but at least system requires some level of discipline in one's life, if one is to approach the world with the proper sort of humility -- the sort which, the more we learn about human nature, the more we sense must now be demanded of us, if we are not to allow ourselves, as humans, to destroy everything else that remains in the world, including one another.

I mean, I don't know -- but, Lord, I'd like to know.

Here, for example, is a case where that word is used in a way that seems to elevate a poem above itself, to lift it up, so that it can go on, in what seems an impossible situation of loss and need.

George Seferis: White Eyes

What I think I am struggling to say is that for me the expression as Abdal-Hayy uses it carries a tone of plaint, of plaintiveness. We've all felt that.

And Lord, it's getting late.

Anonymous said...

Tom, yes, we certainly have. Lord knows & ledgers recall. I agree that if there is a "system of belief" in the utterance, it's neither so necessary nor explicitly tipped.

There is perhaps something striking, as I think Moore is exploring in much of his work, about our exasperations & excitations -- orgasmic Oh Gods and the like -- doubling as addresses, not to a deity or higher order, but to the situation itself. Never so abstracted as an Other or disembodied as an It -- always a We.

Wooden Boy said...

Beautiful. Catches the poverty at the heart of ourselves. Humility in the best sense.