Is it universal wisdom? Romantic psychology?
We shall never know, for the good reason that writing
is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin.
—Roland Barthes, Death of the Author
I've just exploded, become an open mouth
peopled with countless jabbering tongues.
I'm already in that space where our subject slips away
here where, ceaselessly, meaning ceaselessly
posits meaning, here where god hates us because
our words refuse to obey.
It's this disobedience that removes me; the hope of its opposite
is a step back into the trick of memory where we'll stumble
again and again upon the same page, only to see everything
has changed. As if reminding you that I once wrote:
"Let's go to bed," or "This sock has a hole in it," could hope
to make the words, the letters themselves, any more real.
Try to understand why I'm doing this: Once I dreamt
I'd become a voodoo priest and no words mattered.
I was spirit-jamming with the Loa rider, taken
so high, my body, tuned breathless, boiled beyond
the music of my own skin and spilled over, a conduit
of electric heat spanning earth and sky, us and them
life and death: I can, I can, I can write and understand
the words: "These hands of mine have done things
I have and haven't told them to do."
Of course there were others before me
who claim to have felt the same way, some even more
guilty; they interjected, ejaculated, made things
abundantly clear: "O, gentle reader." "O, thoughtful reader."
It was their job to tell you exactly how your heroes
and heroines had to feel.
Then along came Mallarme to change the subject
and put you where I am by suppressing himself
in our own best interest. Congratulations!
You've been recruited. This is your poem now.
See the periods swarm like gnats around the page
as they begin to form your name.
. . . meanwhile I'm diminishing, a waving action figurine
with its plastic hair on fire, an echo, the negative
imprint of something bright aching into blackness
on inner screen of your eyelids.
I no longer even exist once you read this.
Or is it that I don't exist until this is written?
Is this me talking to myself? Or to you? Or visa versa?
I have no idea. Maybe someday we can figure out
who's responsible for what over a few beers.
Then, of course, I must admit: "All of this
has been said and done before." Did i assume
to express myself despite my own intentions? How?
These careful words can only signify infinities:
all things and no things and each thing.
My life imitates a book (one that must contain
this very page) and I tremble at the fact that I am
just a word which has been spoken and written before.
Yet I am here, but I am not here
and I can never claim to have told you
anything you might believe with certainty.
More important, though, is what you think.
Apparently, you don't need to know if I've put
certain words above
certain words which are also above
certain words for aesthetic reasons.
The simple fact that you've noticed renders this point moot.
It makes no difference if I wrote these lines
dopey-lidded late one night, or at the early
morning's sober table, my wife snoring
softly in the next room. As we've made clear
I may not even be unless you read this.
And who are you, O, thoughtful reader, O, gentle reader?
You are only space; you are just now born, yet your body
is already mapped by the shape of these words.
You are simply someone holding everything together:
a child with both hands clutching the strings to a sky-full
of helium balloons—balloons round like O's
that can never burst or drift away. You are no one
with no past, no desire, no mind. You are my cause.
You are my destination. And you are perfectly free
to tell us both exactly what I mean.
Matt Mullins is diminishing, a waving action figurine with its plastic hair on fire, an echo, the negative imprint of something bright aching into blackness on the inner screen of your eyelids.
Despite Roland Barthes, he is currently alive and writing in Kalamazoo, MI. His other attempts at suicide have appeared in Slipstream, subTERRAIN, Descant
and elsewhere. He thanks you in advance for reading this bio through to the end as he may not even be until you do.
copyright © 2008, Matt Mullins
BECCA DE LA ROSA
—The Baby is Safe
—The Fisherman's Child
—Faith, Hidden in the Hands of the Blind
—A Comic History of Bullets
—To Recover from Lightning, Etc.
A. ROSS ECKLER