The Operating System

POETRY MONTH 30/30/30: Inspiration, Community, Tradition: DAY 19 :: Jack Cooper on Hala Alyan

The Faces of Influence – John Jack Jackie (Edward) Cooper
Faces or facets? Am I being facetious in considering fact a species of essence, even essences, precipitate—from the lot conjoined—a chemical residue, like water, plain oxygen: and if residue what of, why not, feces? Fax—is this, are they—iteration of facsimile? Effect, then, whether spelled—particularized—with e or a, Classical byproduct: aeffect,a lode of Pindarian award for aesthetic gain or distinction.
I first saw—first beheld—Hala Alyan in the dark. She half sat, upright in the darkness familiar from unknown places. No pitch, the tentative sensual isolation adheres to bodies, but another vividly sensuous through which perception nears to the material: where Eros does prevail—palatial imagining, short-lived, with Psyche. Thanks, if such issue exist, conceded apology, acknowledgment, ripening gratitude flow from the misunderstanding, sundered conjunction, memory, recall, facsimile, fable (weakness of memory at maximum componential strength), influence.
I first heard Hala still in the dark. Then in the spotlight, now radiant beneath chthonic halo, ringletted effulgences of curl, almost bird-like in her brevity of physical form, prodigious in her voluminous gift of song …
Anonymity bequeaths, demands, determines, deserves disposition of awe and its attendant laws in legend required, the legacies of experience and various conception eventually realized, recognition coalescing as the order of myth. I did not know the poet’s name, but I instantly identified the origin of her voice.
I prefer to leave her there in the dark—omitting congealed yolk of biography, practicable idealization, and longitude of the extraordinary reduced to platitudinous latitude. I will confide only what redoubtable curiosity obtained—reliably: “beauty” in Arabic crosses the threshold of verbal expression, verbal dilation as hala.
The glimmer twins of mercurial mystery, words and their associations, possess a dual ability to communicate both what is thought and not. Hagglers will denigrate the latter as if they knew precisely is, was, may be said—or heard. To deny such insistence on precision, cede that validity, deeming it either an impossibility or codifying instance of coercive authority, discounts material versatility of language as primary instrument indispensible to the locally determined, abstractly universal motive and mechanics of evolution.
Nolo contendere. Nonetheless, the whatnot loosed through the hole struck by sound releases a wave, forms a probe, mounts a phenomenon of interference (and accompanying non) irresistible to the concretized formulations of matter: the kind physicists—that most exacting of representational manipulators—ingeniously devise. The pulse within the morpheme set to vibrating, like a lyre, phonemes split, and amplitude via trough crests to hallelujah.


First love/Train:
     Oranges will grow ten carpals,
     just shy of a year.
     I dislike the relearning of nudity,
     superego alit by the drop of towels. Sweat.
     Summer, I will launder. Not erase but stir new air.
     There is an ad for transplant, an ad for rollercoaster–
     nothing for mosquitoes. I regret you.
     On the platform a woman hips a painting of lilies. 
     She hears the crickets, curses the heat.
     What are you if not Manhattan-bound?
Second love/Television:
     In the dark of the room,
     lions are the glow.
     Mustard oil, fistful of chilies, this meal is cold.
     Fur the shade of grapefruit. The lion thrusts,
     bites the lioness until she roars, wincing. You joke, Like us.
     Carpets breed electric shock as I
     unplug the television. Still, our lips clasp flickerless.
     She tries to lick where he incised her, cannot.
     In the dark she will stay awake. Kill the makings of his supper.
     Like Galatea, you drink milk even musty. Filmy aureoles on all tables.
     The sperm sluices from her like song.
     She will limp. He will eat.
     Do you smell sulfur?
Third love/Shower:
     My hair, lime-green, emerges from steam.
     Seascape. I am the card you drew from the deck.
     I linger in supermarkets, shampoo aisle as bazaar. The promises.
     Eucalyptus is not jasmine. Sleek is not smooth.
     Four spades, no less.
     The bottle simpers for this rinsing.
     You dab rubies, quivering, into my palm. Tomorrow, another’s.
     Water cave,
     corners are no corners. Slope is kind.
     Has your marriage perished?
Fourth love/Bed:
     Loyalty keeps me unloved.
     You are beneath the ground now. Dolor
     blisters, it must be drained; I adore you still.
     In this sleep, what will you tell me of citrus?

[Ed: In Hala, we are introduced to someone whose work is not readily searchable, a remarkable voice pre-catalog; and yet do we not become inspired by someone we hear, by chance, at a reading? perhaps in a way that changes us in a moment, or in a way that continues to change us, as we return to that moment in our minds? I’m glad that Jack chose someone that replicates that very real experience for the community. However, since it’s not that easy for our audience to develop a relationship with Hala’s work online or in publication, though one is forthcoming this summer from Three Rooms Press, about which we will keep you updated indeed! I am grateful to him for providing us with a small selection of her poems which you may download/read in .pdf at the link below.]

Hala Alyan – Poems
Sixteenth, Paris: Moon Gone By
Jack Cooper 

Pendant circle, a play on words unspoken
no one dares risk grant speech — oculus, the moon
set in motion, cast adrift: their assumption —
matter of cloud — sound surrounds; plain indifference,
mountainous ages slow through the mind: wishes
iridescent, gold, dangled amethyst,
almond; seasons meet overhead — that night,
as ever since — recessed within an I
seeing all, what I could not, conscious alone,
how a man stood blind, untiringly
provoked, incessant in his ignorance,
imprisoned in time below. Fled balloon,
halo to precious memory returns,
so one another draws the look above.
[Ed: John Jack Jackie (Edward) Cooper and I orbited each other at the Chapbook Festival until, it seems, the inevitable forces pulled us together with that finality and familiarity that happens in life when you meet old friends for the first time. It had all the qualities of family: somewhere between “I’m so happy you’re here” and “Where the hell have you been?” He was tabling for Poets Wear Prada, the indefatigable press he manages alongside founder Roxanne Hoffman, just a few yards from me. PWP’s mission has long been that of open-arms and community action, so we were immediately kindred. Furthermore, I was thrilled to trade my chapbooks for theirs — something you get to experience as Jack’s chapbook, TEN, is available in digital format here.  You’ll hear more from JJJ (E) C very soon. We’re grateful to have him.]

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