A Rather Strange Art

It was my intention to write about what other people are doing and to direct anyone reading this toward hundreds of great tracks of recorded poetry of all kinds: a variety of poetic styles and deliveries as well as a comparable miscellany of soundtracks composed of anything from sophisticated music written and performed by professional composers to cacophonies of audio assemblage (or collage, if you prefer).

I hope that piece will be written soon. I really want you to hear what’s out there. That’s the whole point of this blog.

Instead, I find that I must first expose something of myself. How else can you trust me? Even though a blog is all about writing, wouldn’t it be quicker, perhaps more pleasurable, and a lot more direct just to let you hear something I’ve done?…Of course, now I come to a pause resembling stage fright. I’ve been recording my poems, doing other weird things to them, making noises and something that sort of resembles music since 1996. And I’ve been posting some of these tracks on soundcloud.com for over a year. Yet now I hesitate to let anyone hear them. Nothing seems good enough.

I’ll start with a very old poem, something written about 30 years ago, when I was in my mid-twenties, but actually a recent audio composition, composed March 17, 2012: “Winter Flowers”. There’s not much to it: a field recording of pellets of snow falling on dried leaves, processed several times in a program called Spektral Delay; a few random synth pads on freeware instruments; and my voice.

Leaves in absence and love declined,
moonlight lost in a seraglio of lint.
However these lips parted, invitation
has faded, chilled and deserted
between night and crazy sunlight.
Sex is the clear madness of sunshine
misplaced, misnamed and soon vaporous.
So, what of love on the winter tread?
Lint and lust are collecting moonlight
and snow discloses the latent steps.
Snow falls and fills the wavering biddance.

This next composition, “Pool of Darkness”, was cobbled together out of a couple synth patches in November, 2011, the poem being written as I worked on the sounds.

I find a pool of darkness
a pool of darkness
and I step in
I step in
step in
I step in

There is no bottom
and I step in
though there is no bottom
I step in
step in
I step in

This is my love
surrounding me
this is my love engulfing
and I step in
follow me
step in

Do you fear the darkness
bottomless darkness
surrounding you
do you fear submersion
do you fear my love
step in
follow me
follow me
follow me
and step in
step in

This is my love
engulfing darkness
this is my love
follow me
follow me
follow me
follow me

This is my love
step in

I think I’ll put up two more compositions. First, we have something I began planning in 1995 and executed in the spring of 1996 when I finally bought a 4-track cassette portable studio. This is draft 8, completed in February, 2011. It begins with a drone using a ceramic mortar and pestle. Subsequent drones are with a brass singing bowl, recorded three times and pitch-shifted, once higher and once lower (I think there’s also a synth pad near the end). The thump is a sample I made in ’96 as I hit a futon with a padded drum stick (a very dull and clichéd beating of fate). My voice was distorted and pitched down, using software plug-ins. This is “Evil 1” (the second version is even more pompous and very preachy, while the third version is self-mockery and nonsense).

Evil is a person,
or a people,
reduced to a black hole:
the balance and dynamic
of a star,
the symmetry
of a solar system,
the gift
of its radiance
into an uncontrollable

Evil is a fragment,
one little piece of a person,
or a people,
that grows
beyond recognition of its source,
that grows
to dominate the while,
that grows
until it is the person,
or people.

Evil is self interest,
consuming, conquering,
with no concept of any other self,
no sympathy, no compassion,
no friendship.

Evil is the judgment
in the name of the father,
in the name of the mother,
the children, the ancestors,
in the name of society
and propriety,
in all the names
that mask the inner truth,
in all the names
that hide bigotry,
avarice and voracity,
the rejection or punishment
in honor’s name
that’s really in my name.
Or your name.

Evil consumes.
It does not give
or take
or ask any questions.
It mutters not truth
that can give peace—
only words
that ripen fear,
putrefying doubts,
turning difference
into not wine
but a flavorless poison
masked by a heady aroma.

Evil cannot be entered
the way a mouth is entered,
a stomach is entered,
an intestine is entered.

This last recording is called “Shadows”. It was composed in July, 2011, primarily consisting of samples of an old, glass light fixture we once had hanging in our dining room and some noise made on a metallic, industrial furnace filter, some messing around on a Stratocaster with a Kerr lid (you know, for canning), and voice—everything heavily processed in Guitar Rig (a software guitar amp simulation). The words were written while I worked on the sounds (you won’t hear them until almost the end).

all this light
all this light and cross examination
everything is so plain to see
seen clearly and exactly explained
not a single stain left for the imagination
nothing to do but talk
say what you will
nothing but talk
and more talk
more talk
more talk
just talk
it keeps going around
bright lights
the steady look
then the words
talk talk talk talk talk…
that rapturous rapacious romantic thrill is gone
who do I love
who do I fear
why won’t they touch me anymore
where are my enemies
what happened to suspicion and passion and tall the layers of duplicity
this meeting has turned into an autopsy
everything is so clear
now I’m sane and lifeless
god am I sane
please, turn out the light

Categories: Here and now, Random comments | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

About swampmessiah

Real name, Michael Myshack. I was born in 1957 (pre-Sputnik), graduated high school in 1975, and then slowly began coming to life. I am self-taught in the arts as well as most other things: drawing and babbling since a very early age; started painting seriously in 1975; began writing shortly thereafter, but began writing in earnest circa 1977 (beginning with poetry); first started recording poems and music and other sounds in 1996. Other than an individual showing of drawings at the Tweed Museum at the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1983 and being an instigator and participant of a group exhibit of drawing at the Duluth Art Institute in 1985, I have no professional or academic pedigree. In other words, I have a day job. I've been with someone since 1985. Our children were born in 1991 and 1996.

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