Rosary (or, les fleurs du mala)
Authored by Matthew Remski
Published July 29, 2014
A rosary of personal, ethnographic, and psycho-somatic prayer-poems that peer into the nature of consciousness. It fetishizes bead-and-string technology as the foundational mechanism for multiple disciplines of inquiry: linguistics, astronomy, sexology, and computing. At the very centre of everything we do, this serial work claims, is a sequence of ones and zeroes that constitute the repetitive and immutable chant of the cosmos.
The work is self-referential, holding the structure of a prayer-session through its beaded episodes, but offering a broken and heterodox content that attempts to mirror the sublime ambivalences of evolving complexity. It employs the technique of prayer to subvert old notions of prayer, and reorient devotion towards the horizontal and the changing.
The personal themes of speak to multiple conversions, metaphysical and continental wandering, east-west conflict and dialogue, and the growing realization that this flesh, handling these words, beads, and pages, underlies all meaning, value, and love.
“Bound together by devotion, wildness, and long practice, this string of pages tells several winding stories: child to adult to father, Catholic to Buddhist to open-source mystic, believer to skeptic, seeker, teacher. With a punster’s joy in wordplay, Remski spins a fantasia of ancient ritual and childhood prayer, premodern numerology and postmodern science that opens in unexpected directions-just as you think you’ve got it. Funnier (and sexier) than you’d expect, and more wise, read it in a single sitting, letting go into the strange oscillation of cosmic and mundane, and yes, birth and death, that pulses here.” – Sean Feit
syrinx and systole was edited by my first mentor, Luciano Iacobelli, and published by Quattro Press in 2010. Rob McLennan has some nice things to say about it. As does Camelia Elias, editor of the prickly and luminous Eyecorner Press:
If there’s a task we want to preoccupy ourselves with, then it is this one: let us read more poetry. The words of the poets carry heavy light with them, and this light beams far and bounces into our sanctuaries. Matthew Remski, thank you.
Her full post is here.
Excerpt from the text itself:
Sun strikes the prism of narrative and concept, and manifests on the white screen of abstraction. Of course there are no blank screens in nature. There are no plastered walls, no bed sheet or tunic of linen, no page. We refine the prism from the earth and spin the screen from flox. And suddenly, the circle squared, the primary colours emerge, rimmed with their variants.
On what would be a simple day on earth, another day, another day ecstatic with its own regularity and blending of forms, a fascination with separate rays of light takes hold. Declensions of the sun, moods of the father, judgments about right and wrong actions. A mystery ferments, a romance trades its first glances across space now dappled with geographical diacritics. A dissatisfaction enters a boy’s heart and he begins to yearn for ‘god’ and dream of pilgrimage beyond the rows of maize.
Subtly through the generations, love is bound to sacrifice, as gold is bound to value. The sun seeks its own recapture in a denouement that withdraws from the prism. Shadow withdraws to the forest. The effulgent hand radiates primal intention. The sun dissolves or burns the screen. Gold remains, but you cannot tell it apart from black.
My first book of poems, organon vocis organalis, (1994) was mentored by Christian Bok and Darren Wershler, and other denizens of the early 90s Cafe May crowd. Stan Bevington at the Old Coach House designed it meticulously. It won the bp nichol chapbook award for that year. It is impossible to find. This picture is of my reading copy.
“Ventriloquism” “the” “beginning” “of” dialogue”.
A poet is a mouth for the want of another mouth. The organist is all mouths for the want of all other mouths.
The word is a word for the want of another word.