Showing posts from October, 2006


The configuration of your desire, Monsieur, is complex. The beauty of women, how does it move you?

Scent of her kisses, tender cleavage, your lips, the way she holds you in her tiny hands, what it would be like to plunge yourself into her? She in whom you would obliterate.
Lust and bliss, loin and heart adaze. Or perhaps it is frenzy, a blindness?

Do we fall into what dissembles us?
A whirlpool, its swirling whorls,
undressing us,
naked against the onrush.

Is it that we are always approaching what we can never give ourselves to?

Go Backwards Along the Path to Go Forward

Audio Poetry Recording (9:27min): Cable/DSL; or Dial-up.

*If your pop-up blocker is over-zealous, and won't open the SoundClick window, email me at brenda dot clews at gmail dot com, and I'll send the .mp3 file - it's 5.4MB.

Recorded this suite of poems in the Summer, wasn't sure, oh you know the drill, but now, sharing...

More of a drama in this reading, I think. Each poem recorded separately and then spliced, so the readings shift in tone and tenor.

Busy couple of days, and then at a conference on Thursday, where I'm presenting twice, and may or may not post again until after Sunday, but I will write in my notebook, yes!

Listen in the dark, or when you're quiet. The poems in the recording:

1. Ecdysis
2. Technorati Tag Poem
3. Mantra, a Meditation
4. Painting Time
5. Without A Guide
6. What Revelations Are to Come?
7. After Watching Kurosawa's 'Rapsody in August'
8. Sultry Dark Air
9. Heliotropic Coda

(©Brenda Clews)


Awakening to the self, but this implies a stasis, stability, security of self, that I am knowable to myself; whereas, I'm not. The mystery of unfolding, rather.

Lying on the floor, awakening, our fingers, hands, toes, feet stretch into the world. That stretching continues as we writhe across the dance floor and then slow our movement to a Tai Chi-like fluidity and finally stop. A room of sculptures stopped in motion, some standing, some lying on the floor. We are breathing, is it.

Later, to the music I unravel my sarong and wrap and unwrap it around my shoulders, torso, breasts, and then brave strangeness and wrap it around my head and arms so I am trapped. I dance like a slave trying to find freedom, from the position of stasis, stability, security of a self. I know freedom is terrifying. With nothing to constrain you, fetter, contain, weigh, what would you do, who would you be?

If we could forget about being watched, read, observed, judged, about the unceasing gaze of the other, wh…


(I may be updating this & the next post in between calls today... they're a bit sketchy still... in this one, for instance, there was a real clash with "the muse" that I could imagine as a "scene" of some sort, we'll see.)

What made the pale suite washed out, drained, anemic? Was it the eloquent executive furniture, the large walnut veneer desks, strategic abstract paintings of desert yellow with some red drips, couches and dried flower arrangements all color-coded in muted tones, a whole suite of executive offices abandoned, places of corporate battles where victories were savoured or wounds sustained, and where profits increased yearly, ever-plundering the populace, until the merger and the redundancy and the emptiness? A commercial insurance company that banked on the stability of the world, drew profits from potential disaster, disasters that could be counted on not to happen but which could be insured against none-the-less. A wealthy world, this ---…

interlacings of love

I can feel your presence, mon amour, pressing in on me and I imagine you vividly in this room whose walls are covered in paintings, and can almost see you in the night light, as if you are present and flowing around me, but you are not here and I want to solidify in this moment, and yet I know you are here, like a spectre, because you love me.

It is an odd thing, Monsieur, that I feel loved by those who have abandoned me.And of course, I love

Reading Writhing Letters

When the letters began curling like tiny writhing black snakes on the page,I lostthe ability to read.The letters floated somewhere between the paper and my eyes, hovered, hallucinatory, unreadable, and I couldn't catch them or make them form words or sentences through I knew coherency was there, below the

writhing floatingif I could just
make them sitstill.When it came back, focus, and the words stayed on the page, I read a book a day and didn't stop for 15 years.

I gluttonized on words, gorged.

I pushed myself through tome after tome, hour after hour; I let books open other books; I kept ledgers of copious notes, and dozens of journals.

I read all night. I read with urgency, as if my life depended on it. All of the classics, the 'great' books, 'great' writers, 'great' thinkers. Did I waste my youth reading Plato and Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas, Bacon and Shakespeare?

It's all fleeting.

But when the words stayed still, lying in neat rows on the pages,…


It is fleeting, ephemeral, fragile --- beauty,life.
Silence of the deep sleep, death,of non-being,eternity,the norm.


Monsieur, you have been absent, I thought you had forgotten me. The spelunker of snakes? It alarms you, this imagination of mine.

All my life I have hallucinated snakes.

Even now, they come out of the shower head, slither down my back, small pythons, Black Mambas, always in stone grey or black. Sometimes I become rigid with fear, the hot hissing water.

Ground myself: concentrate on the tiles, the shower curtain, the soap, the wash cloth. Push out sensations of snakes dropping on my head, slithering down my back. Remnants of memories of watching the poor creatures swinging on sticks in the air until their backbones broke and they went limp. It was a game, in a circle laughing.

Terrors of a memory gone awry, misplacing splices of the past out-of-context in the present: I step onto floors thick with writhing serpents, but they aren't real. This phobia of mine.

Freud's interpretation was very narrow; Jung's was better, except that they don't automatically signify psychic fragme…

Death of Time

My words silt in the paddies of time, flooded with being.
Time drowns us.

Break out of time: escapee.
Leave the encircling fields of the centuries.

Plummet silence.
Breathe without tracking, calibration, rates, or seizures.
When time stops we die.

Blind Writing

We have eyes, not to see the light, but to cry. Among the animals, only we can weep.1

Not the unblinking gaze of the ever-recording eye, but the pathos.

To undo the autocracy of knowledge, the way light has been used to mean power, imperialism, right, might, truth, revelation, enlightenment.

When we cry, the forms of the world blur and we forget what we have learnt to see. We move by touch, by the feeling under our fingers, by sensitivity, by silently hearing.

I write when I am almost asleep or just waking, when I can't see; I write in the dark.

When we can no longer see the forms around us, we forget the eternal forms, the eternal light. In blindness, we become visionaries.

Weep for the world; weep for yourself; weep because you can weep. Your heart will open; it will be raw, painful, and blissful, ecstatic: you will be the whole of who you are. There will be the other; there will be meaning in the closeness of connection.

We cannot see the images displayed, on view. We must move throug…

Tidal Patterns

It wasn't always this way. One upon a time the tide remained high. And there were no clams or seaweed to be found and the Tsimshian went hungry. Raven knew what lay under the blue glistening robes of water.

When he wrapped his blanket of black feathers around his strong shoulders, he flew. His sharp eyes watching, looking. Scanning the edges of the ocean, he found her.

Tightly she held the tide-line in her hands. She wouldn't release the ocean to rhythmically rise and fall on the beach, or draw back from it, leaving washed treasures, clams, seaweed, shells, shiny pebbles.

Why did the old woman hold the tide-line so tightly in her lined, papery hands? She sat in her small house on the edge of the sea, holding the waters in the life-line on her palms. Who can tell from the mass of mounds and lines on her hands how she bid the edges of the great water be still?

Inside her sun-bleached house with closed eyes she imagined the ocean, or perhaps she could see it with visionary sight. She…

Simple Yoga this Morning

Early this morning I pulled out my yoga mat (a sheepskin bought in 1994 and for which I sewed a case out of peach-coloured upholstery fabric as many years ago), laid it on the floor (a very tight fit since I live in a closet), and did this yoga set: Spinal Flex Series.

I began my day with this simple yoga set for the spine for many years - sure it got boring, but different music every day helped. Today, as I flex back and forth, I feel how stiff I've become, how I need to loosen, to take care of this Sushumna, central column, spine, place where all the nerves, nadis, meridians flow. I feel the weight of what I carry as I rhythmically flex, especially when I get to the 'shoulder shrugs,' eh, let the tension go, let it go...

Each day is new, life is strange, but it keeps going. Perhaps I shall still be sitting on my mat, flexing my bent old spine when I am a centenarian, shrunken, withered, wrinkled, but ever so wise :-)

Thinking of you, I got out my old scanner with the cra…

On the Beach

I worked 7 hours in an office without a break (my choice), and it was mostly busy, and then a crammed transit ride and 2 more hours of tutoring my remaining Korean student, and this little piece got written somehow in between it all, oh and begun yesterday at a cafe but interrupted by my arriving daughter. It's a bit garbled, at least it reads so to me. Perhaps tomorrow I shall expand it so it is closer to the scene I imagined - just some days don't allow you the time, and who knows what happens to the tenor and rawness of the images that come flowing out on such days (days of work for which one is grateful, too).

Images collect on the beach like polished pebbles, smooth glass baubles, tangles of fishing wire, water-logged boots, seaweed, shells translucent and sometimes chipped, mollusks and sea urchins, dead, cadaverous detritus, swollen along the glimmering band of sand.

I am sure I will see her on her seawalks. That she will be dressed in a long black skirt and gazing out to…

The Medusa

-the early draft of this poem has been removed by the author-

Polishing the Rocks

It is the problem of the pounding of the surf.

Fear holds me

captive; like the Tarot card where she is bound and blind-folded, unseeing and scared, though all the swords are stuck, blade-first, in the ground.

It's not a question of personal safety, Monsieur. It's a lifelong problem with creativity that I have, she has. Monsieur, I split myself into a third person, a she. That is me. Or her. Does it matter?

If we deconstruct the subject-object construction, does it matter who swirls in the salt spray, its turbulences of disappearing foam?

Who says the invisible be rendered visible
through our perceptions?

I am the subject; and I cannot look upon myself lest I turn myself into statuesque art, lest I turn the Medusa touch on my seeing eye.

An unblinking gaze. The object of the subject is the subject. Only in the self-portrait does the ruin of the self break down. We are decomposing into text.

Into iconography.


Immortalizing ourselves in time: statues, broken rubble of stones amid …


She is there, walking the sea walls, endless array of black, coats, pants, dresses, and the flashes of red, the ribbon and feather in her black felt hat; or the whiteness of her face against her black hair and the lurid red lipstick.

When she who is a spectre, who is a vision, the invisible rendered visible, a hallucination without reality but a guiding perception of the self, whose look freezes us into self-portraits, whose look turns us into sculptures of death from which the beating warmth of our blood cannot escape, when she looks at us, our unblinking eyes:
The straining eye always resembles an eye of the blind, sometimes the eye of the dead, at that precise moment when mourning begins: it is still open, a pious hand should soon come to close it; it would recall a portrait of the dying.* Medusa would immortalize us as art. The Gorgon is the muse whose terror petrifies us would we but look upon her venomous, spitting face.

We are no more than statues to the woman in black walking the…


In deep structures of power:
Who creates the agenda?Who manages the meaning-making? Who is in control
of the speaking, doing, appearing?

Elements of deep personal power:
PrivilegeSelf-knowledgeDisciplinary micropractices Do we comply,
or do we resist?

How do dynamics of power unfold in planned and unplanned organizational structures?

Unlike Surface Power, with legitimate authority, expertise, a referent of trust and commitment, rewards/coercions, associations/networks/who you know, a visibility of coalitions, and a show of flexibility/autonomy, the elements of Deep Structure Power concerns management of meaning, symbols that are difficult to define, routines and rules that are taken-for-granted, unquestioned.

Power is the ability to do.
Power is knowing yourself.
Power is having others believe.
Deep structural power is invisible.

In the Deep Structures of Power, mechanisms of surveillance become internalized.

Dynamics of Resistance:
disobediencesubversionchallengedefiance Isn't silence
the …

ἄφατος : aphatos, speechless, not speakable

we speak.

It's the making

Without hearing each other,
how can we listen?


What if relationships are the primary ordering principle?
What if the way relationships are ordered
clarify, explain, and instruct us on the way things
stand towards each other?

If connectivities are performatives, then the grammar
of the relationship determines its patterns.
Monsieur, you are a character who is invisible, a reference outside the writing for whom the writing is written, your eyes read as the reader is reading. You were conceived as a literary device, and then I discovered we knew each other intimately.

We meet at the edge of the text. These words unfold through the syntax of your absent presence in the writing.

Those of whom I speak are embedded in grammars too. While we are a syntax and lexicon of unique verbal patterns, we are still bound by the rules of a grammar which shapes our relationships.

In her radical pedagogy, the woman who teaches says: "What we must never do:

Patronise, reduce, laud, ridicule, dismay
• Simplify, bowdlerise, censure, censor
• Wield discourse a…

Remember the Night...

.......................................When, you,
without closure, engulfed me?

.....When I disappeared into your vastness,
became lost in you, lost 'I'?

..... Everywhere you touched, mountains,
valleys, plains, even the ocean in me,
parted, shook, opened.

..... Do you remember how we,
two sighs enfolded in each other?

..... Breath of love. I speak of romance tonight;
forgive me, Monsieur. Afterwards,
we did not speak of it.

..... On the surface of the water that resists
before you fall in, that edge of sweetness.

..... Mon amour, now it is like sitting in a darkened room
with a screen of scenes before us, our hands close,
but not touching.

..... You are so far away.

When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking

I've always had a natural mistrust of the letter e. It was the egg, Humpty Dumpty, who fell off the wall, yolk and albumen spilling viscously. In high school, I adopted the Greek epsilon, ε, and have scrawled it ever since.

e is a very tricky letter, I tell my young students. It's like the e of flea, and jumps clean over consonants and makes innocent vowels sitting there wake up and say their names. a becomes æ. At becomes ate. It's good, that letter e, but it can't jump over two or three consonants, so 'settle' remains 'settled.' And if e is next to c, watch out: e gets a crush, we could say. Then c gets stars in her eyes and forgets to be a 'k' and becomes a sinuous 's.' How do you read 'receives'? Of course, when two vowels go walking, one becomes shy, perhaps bashful, while the other proclaims its name.

Sometimes my young students can't read 'boat' or 'rain' or 'real' and so we jump up and walk …

Letter from a restaurant

Monsieur, the day is over, I worked at the investment bank, bought a sweater, walked city blocks until too hungry to continue. I am sitting in a corner of a Parsee Restaurant that drew me with an unusual warmth in its Indian colours and curtained light writing to you.

I sit at a small table covered with clear plastic under which a string tablecloth, woven in a loose stitch with an orange central flower radiating out in a circular pattern that stands out from the white stitching, lies. Lifting the glass stopper on a bottle of olive oil, I pour a delicate gold stream over my mostly lettuce salad, and then, from the other bottle, fresh lime juice. When the glass of housewine arrives, it is slightly vinegary, and I wonder if they bottled it themselves. The beef Keba is tender, the white rice is intermixed with yellow orange grains cooked with saffron. On the edge of the oval dish is a stewed tomatoe.

The patrons consist of an older retired couple, two young men in suits talking about busine…


The poem I wrote disappeared. Usually I copy what I've written before posting, but the inflamed belly - perhaps it was the prunes and dried apricots, dark chocolate discs, Guinness draft, muesli and raw sugar, all fermenting until my stomach swelled in pain not unlike the labour of birth - and the late hour, I clicked on the wrong button, it disappeared. Poems can't be rewritten, not like prose can. I'm left wondering if what surfaced from the currents of words will reappear, or, if like a melted iceberg, it's gone, become ocean.

I wanted to post the poem, not talk about the bad night, and enjoy my quiet weekend making my way out into the day today, but I'm aching, light-headed, still swimming in the depths of the emotional disaster last week, the emailing, the words, the decisions, the silences, the loss.

Incomprehensible on the edge of.

Aren't they all edges?

And where is.