• The Omega Issue

    Irene Silt

    The Omega Issue
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    The Grapevine Telegraph

    Irene Silt, Interview + 2 Poems

    What is the tension between caring for/giving yourself to others and writing poems?

    Emotional literacy is an acquired skill. I mostly think in poetics. I think about how things abstractly relate to each other, how the mundane and the envisioned could become one, what knowledge bodies hold, and what my material reality has to say about all the theory I have read. The thoughts I have, even the most straightforward, take a lot of teasing out to be at all useful. A thought or an experience is not separate from our own personal context, something that could never be fully shared. This is all to say that I believe when I take the time to reflect on my being in the world, whether by writing poetry or training jiu jitsu, or otherwise intentionally thinking about what my motions or emotions bring to the moment I am in, I am able to speak to people around me in a thoughtful and resolved way. I am able to provide my loved ones with stability rather than an unhinged need for affirmation or understanding.

    Which poets have you been putting off reading?

    Poets in their original language, like Roberto Bolaño, Reinaldo Arenas, Ada Negri, Jean Genet.

    Which poets should we all read?

    We should be reading whatever poet makes us feel something when otherwise we would be hollowed out, watching TV alone at night. We should read poems and cry when we are facing repression, read poems to find timeless resonance, read poems aloud to new lovers in bed after we have sex, read poems that have had a profound effect on our mentors or idols, and especially read the poems of our friends. For me this has been Diane di Prima, Oki Sogumi, Anne Sexton, Miyo Vestrini, Anne Boyer, Audre Lorde, and Cassandra Troyan.

    What is your advice on writing about sex?

    Think less about sex as a concept, and more about the body. Think about how you might describe an experience while you are still in it. Savor it that way, return to it again.

    When you daydream, where do you go?

    To arguments I’ll never have, memories of my friends’ eyes behind masks, abandoned landfills.

    Excerpts from My Pleasure

    I started to say my pleasure in response to 'thank you'
    washing everyone's dishes my pleasure
    massaging the shoulder of your friend my pleasure
    driving us for hours through the night
    filling up your glass stealing you that shit

    developing your thoughts
    choking the dude out my pleasure
    everything made into pleasure

    I have all this wetness that you don’t have
    and you come back at me with
    you’ve got a way with words, use them
    I plead, like, there are no words right now!
    that would be my true pleasure
    deafening wordlessness

    I speak for a lot longer in languages
    you do not understand
    I have desexualized everything but the room
    You fooled yourself into thinking
    I would unfold if you shook me hard enough

    One time you really got me talking
    you said, I should give you amphetamine salts more often
    looking at you, I picked up another armful of mulch
    and it began to move
    as I stood up, the mulch fell away and in my arms
    was a large black snake, cold
    it unraveled and poured out of my arms as we gasped

    what like, I am not aware of how I am fucking oozing??
    that overcompensating solidity that is still so slick
    try to wash myself off myself
    I am losing myself to air

    Blame it on the revolving door of my bed
    or how the neglect made me
    masochistic in a solitary way: a workaholic
    there’s an idea of feminism as living with consequence
    lacerated bodies communicating lacerated lives

    your cunt is literally hard to get to
    it clamps down so fucking hard
    and the one thing I did say is
    I don’t care for biting

    My love of the below my love
    of your self loathing which I inherited
    To enter below we went to the attic,
    I stepped on the stain and I took your photograph.
    You are wearing the t shirt with faces and blood.
    Your hair is longer than I have seen it since
    You look like me.
    I would prefer that our bodies just be trapped here.

    My loss knows the pain of lying down
    of being laid out, craving below
    broken noses on a door frame
    being washed out and hung up
    saying I would need so much out of you
    it is not even worth getting into
    but then we will just continuously get into it over time.

    I am so angry at you, I would save your life.
    I would force you to live again, without me.
    I am your left arm I am your right arm.

    I have a book which illustrates vanishing points.
    You obviously gave it to me.
    Along with the coyote pelt,
    the skull made of many bodies,
    the flag of burning unicorns,
    and the drawing of rain.

    You gave me a complex.
    you gave me the utter certainty that
    the ways of the underworld are perfect.

    When I was fisting you I rested my arm on top of the A/C window unit
    and that time you were kneeling over me my legs fell asleep
    I gave them permission to float away
    I pointed out that you always wear your underwear backwards,
    the face you gave me was dirty
    often I am extremely rigid yet balled up
    I used to call myself a 2x4 but now I am like crumbled up steel
    often you say, I can’t tell if you want this
    I cannot always tell myself
    Pleasure is somewhere outside the known and unknown
    It is unknowingness, without any expectation of one day knowing something
    it is the honesty of me not knowing if I want your mouth on me at all
    and the lack of expectation that I will orchestrate your desire
    that I will open up onto you
    When there is no denying
    this will be for our use

    I keep thinking about you dancing
    and your wavy arms in the corner of my eyes
    I tried to get you alone a few times but gave up so easily
    you called me your mirror hand and nothing rang truer
    compelling in a way we could only be to ourselves

    You shared your vision of a velvet bedroom and I have almost offered many times to come help you staple it all over your walls. Is that what you want? So many of our desires are simple. They are within reach. What are your most unachievable desires, and what is desire in a world after achievement? What might we want, when the wanting is finally able to dig in? What is deeper in life than just wanting to live? I ask for practical reasons. If Marx himself was a whore, I think they would ask him what they ask me at the end of everything. What is sex without capital?

    What is fucking when we are not fucking before work, or at work, or after work, or to get work. Not fucking as work or to make a child or to break a family or to lock you down. Not fucking to give something up or to give in or as a given. Not out of boredom or as our only thrill, or to convince someone of something. No fucking as measure, or data, or study. Not to know what you could get away with or how far you can get, not because you are owed. Not in exchange for a bed. Or a house, or a meal. Or all your meals. All the unbroken parts of your body. Not for protection, not for stability, not for a passage.

    my birth relegated me to be a floating appendage to my mother
    maneuvering her body
    understanding her pleasures and her pains
    watching the ways she medicated herself
    the degradation of her body and the fate of mine
    I revel in that and I make a living of it

    maybe what approximates a liberating sexual encounter
    is the time I was hit by a car
    My physical therapist strapped himself to me
    He moved his hips as a way to move my hips
    I was confused by my own emotional response and you said to me
    baby it’s a role reversal
    you were jealous of my exhilaration
    my attachment and my personal growth
    the bliss of release that made me feel lost
    in the world outside the physical therapy dungeon

    I have a body collision mode
    from a lifetime of pressing up against varied figures
    for varying periods in various rooms
    chairs and booths
    underneath sinks and in back seats
    where I can extract pleasure from almost any situation
    I can honestly make you feel, exactly how you want to feel
    and I can always make myself come
    but I wouldn’t do that to you

    I am sorry I missed your DJ set tonight
    imagine a parallel world where I just show up nonchalant
    after refusing so many times
    and I just dance with that nondescript face
    and my arms are sort of winding
    sort of shifting through things
    instead I am here thinking
    about how you are a gift to the world
    about violence, boredom, and softness
    I know you would like me to touch you more often
    but you don’t know how healing it is
    to really want to touch someone.
    The moment after refusal
    where you give in
    has taught me that the inverse of pain is in no way pleasure
    it is acceptance

    I am also thinking about the pleasure of reading aloud to you
    about the moment before your sleeping medication sinks in
    when coming is not enough of a release
    I am thinking about how long I continue to read
    after I feel you deep asleep on my chest
    as I just read desire to the sunrise

    I am your right appendage your left appendage
    working through pain in order to do the pleasures of life
    where are you now and where do you need to be to do what you need to do
    sex will be something we do together
    to do everything else we need to do in the world

    Irene Silt writes about power, anti-work sentiment, joy and deviance. She lives in New Orleans.

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