David Hickman

10 poems from
Reverse Oedipus


"The senses do not deceive, but the judgment deceives."      
                                                                         -- Goethe

At the time, we were empty. Falling through  
centuries of blindness and disdain, the orators singing what they would have
us mumble --those great ones, the speakers , who did not know personally
what they asked us to remember, or to act out daily in duty and pain. 

Then the sphinx was banished. And the past gave us forms
that posed the well dressed murderers inside the official photographs.
The famous smiles. The wordless crimes inside our remembrance, echoed
by publicans and the mirrors of the chorus. 

Only a few came to see beyond the official fakes and jabs, after a lifetime of
an imposed and officized regret: that the theory could not support the thing,
that the heart they had mimicked was never a pump!


Only the ordinary 
is the arbiter of an extraordinary clarity. but we have thrown that away.
Perhaps too eagerly, perhaps with the spirit and vigor of the young, the spirit
of Americans, that birth the world’s arousal. Not the arousal of the desire for
home, but the  arousal that knows itself 
through an arrogant precision of weight and measure
inside the personhood that it appears
has been murdered by gender, 
never stopping to listen to the silence inside.


Vanity in all its poses is both a defense and a negation. 
To realize this is to be more a poet 
and less a formalist with a crafted smile. 
Though the Greeks were pure in their remorse 
and their ruthlessness, but even more-so 
in the fullness of the forms of their sculpture.


To be beyond all bifurcation is itself the harbinger of a further bifurcation.
though not one of person, or of class, or language. But a split between
theory and experience, in which the fool gathers himself against the
ideologues of the court, and, turning his back on them  
to face the sun 
burns and becomes a maddening cinder.


To evoke the times he had to know 
that things around him were fading. And out of the whiteness where their
presence had been, a great cloud of colors advanced on the crowd, 
as if they were the hoarded treasure of a future that whispered-- 
a future that was futureless without  perception as an anchor. 
So he remembered the green tiled halls of the school .
He remembered the misery and the regrets of his surroundings.
But mostly he recalled the simplicity of her skin. 
And  looked into the sky to kiss the angel of the new, 
arriving daily and unnoticed 
inside the city’s nightmares.


Creon, accused of murder, swore an oath to God.  For the Greeks, every
action pointed to the future. And did so by participating absolutely in the
present, as if  death were only a cigarette break, and then there was the
return to what was always the state. For them, love was merely another kind
of victim-hood, one that spoke to what flowed from inside the chorus, the
same way we stand inside their ruins, and the entirety of their impulse has
been consumed by our desire, until there is nothing but open wounds at the
imaginal altar, inside the ivied peristyle we pass through always,
as if our motions were a virtue that steals their place from the stars.


I did not know how to reply, having known those who had no sinecure but
had suffered
over words. So I said, with a silence that was non-committal, that books still
existed that were like hearing fatal news.


As I remember what I remember the contours of the landscapes no longer
occur. The white fields, the olive trees. the end of so many. . . . The chorus 
under the twisting acacia. The cries of "murderer"
and the deaths as they came. As if blind to that twisting which was the
twisting of the telos. That which arrives as Mnemosyne before it arrives as
words. That which memory accuses before it pronounces itself born. Into
neon and midnight. Their perpetual crematory.


One feels what is coming as if it were a tomb. This view of the west: its
history consumed in manufactures, blood on the sill, portents 
arriving in algorythmic whispers. As all of these are reasons to be cautious,
careful. The whiteness, its lacuna, remaining a discourse in which the many
are blinded by the eloquence of a resume, and the professors make
what was critical into an ism brought forward 
inside the same pettiness as these long-failed kings.


Returning to the text, to strophe 1, I see the line that  says (In Roche's
translation) "believe her, king, believe, be willing to be wise." And I reflect
to myself that I exist, not as a Cartesian, not as a positivist, not as a deist, but
as a psyche.

As such, I turn to my family and see each of them as desires, and not as
vessels from which would pour the waters of my absolution, nor as ciphers
whose blood deserves my own best lies.


History is not a text. It is the memory that memory figures.
The life we contain that contains us as it fades. A place to be disfigured
then. A stream in which to become unborn.