Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bowing my head as I raise my voice in tribute... yet another poet-comrade who has passed over to the other side. Yes, Pasha Allsup, my Austin poet friend has died, back on September 19th--though i only got word of this last week. Some of our friends in Austin are putting together a tribute memorial performance in honor of Pasha, and i have been invited to submit an original poem--using words or phrases from what i presume is one of Pasha's final poems--"The Chair".

I can't make it to Austin to actually read the poem myself, but here's what i wrote and have emailed to the organizers so it can be shared at the tribute memorial tonight, Sunday evening, October 23rd. Progress Coffee House, Austin, Tejas:

(a poem for Pasha)


he bent over, doubled himself, was still just one but doubled in terms of halving. knees to his chest as his fingers caressed his now-naked toes. his ears folded in so his lobes cupped his cheeks and his belly warmed his thighs as he licked himself closed. a human envelope, a sealed man, book-rate to Nirvana.


Pulling his knees together tightly, he poised for flilght. A passing whippoorwill sent a gust via wingflap and then he too became airborne. He relinquished darkness as his lids lifted so that he could see the topography down below: murky dim light showed that he was heading west on North Loop and he thought of the blind, at the school below. He knew they would not see him or very well, at least, but if he whistled, shrieked a verse, sang a raga, this would most certainly draw their faces skyward. He pressed his tongue to the roof of his mouth, letting the first sound be an “l” and the word sang low in harmony with the pitch of the driving rain, a sudden storm. “Laundry....!!!”

“Air your Laundry!!” He sang. “Pitch those panties and the scraggly jeans you’ve cherished for years. Put everything out like a sail. Your heart, your broken heart words, your uncensored turds, confession rockets of words, your eloquent rage, every last paragraph they leave off the page, the gnarly secrets of pain, the wrist naked to a bleeding vein, every damn last syllable that will vanquish any possible tangent of regret, neglect, forget. Launch them as kites, every last word, tv sound byte, make the unspeakable loud, your echo resound. Here i speak it, there i hear it. Bounces off the clouds, cliffs, crowds. A triple digit decibel infidel, be that man.”

Soon the children had sprinkled past the tutors, the guards, the monitors and were padding gently across the clay floor of the tennis court, with their noses nosing and ears hearing. From their pockets bits of string, spring, sting---dental floss, slinky, bandaids. All useless to help tether the flying mail man, the poet launched, teetering abandon, wildly postal. So they let go, just let him go. They dropped to the ground, first one on his knees, then another fully spread-eagle on his back, while yet others did slow-motion full-body prostrations, as if encircling Kailash herself. This sudden fit, a communal devotional reverie, overtook the playground. Even the chancellor straddled a child’s swing and hummed the melodic sky-drone, broadcast from the sky.

Higher and higher, an elevation is nothing to those who speak only math. He was up higher than numbers could tell and the faint of his yell was soft yet kept peaking. For the loudest ones often drop short, while the panting and whispering diaphoretic and epiphanal incantations are as swelling and eternal time-dwelling as the heartbeat of the HImalayas. You can hear, yes? You too have noticed, right? I can count you as one of the listening and everlasting few, too? Wait, listen, don’t miss it. Hear that? Pasha again: “Euphoric! Eu---phor--ic! Are - you - for - it ?” It was slight, a wing flutter, a never-published-page utter, but it lingers, it stays with me, it can never evanesce, yes?

As he softly landed, where it was the place he landed, a whole new language became spoken, old rule and tenets of rigidity broken. But he did not stay there, for the place he longed to reach was not of commandments--not ten, not any, and never many. Arisen to a new location, he slowly unlicked or rather unsealed himself, gradually unfolding to full-Pasha breadth and length, heft and hue, and keenly spread his arms and said without speaking, breathed without being, laughed without living, “tomorrow is tomorrow is tomorrow and soon you too will wake up to that day. But until then, do not truck with sad tears and journey with fears or tarry with impossible unenchanting careers.


Live, your life, then die, your death, and,......” And I waited for the next words, I held my breath to keep my ears poised, but the next words never came. They did not come until I opened my own true mouth--and remembered.

tammy melody gomez
october 2005

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