Poetry

“… I think I see a pattern or a pattern thinks it sees// me…”
                          (Jennifer Givhan, “Tasseography of Pregnancy After Miscarriage”)


Anyone who has had a tarot card session would know that the cards, and the display of them, are merely a manifestation of the seeker’s unconscious. Part of the messages to be channeled is therefore already determined by a particular circumstance, or level of energies, before a session begins. The seeker seeks a clear vision, and an external party that brings him out of the muddiness. To me, most tarot card sessions are 50% reassurance and 50% guidance. And, of course, different actions taken after the session will lead to different outcomes. A friend of mine has recently amused me with his thought about how poetry and tarot cards are each other’s long lost cousins. He quoted Blake, and other metaphysical poets (which lost me, and I am afraid of misquoting him here). But I agree with what he says about the role played by intuition when it comes to reading poems and the cards, and how both genres (are tarot cards a genre?) operate to a certain extent with imagery.

Often enough, poets confess that their aesthetics tend to change all the time, and the change mostly is a constructive response to materials (books, paintings, or other art forms) they have been ‘reading,’ or a change in the space (a room, a city, or a locked box of suppressed memory), where they write in, from, and with. The making of poetry, like the drawing of tarot cards, is very much an action-reaction process. John A. Nieves opens his “Random Pulls from the Body Tarot” by saying “[this] card is about balance.” The One of Feet card is definitely a comforting one to draw, but balance is probably not so desirable when a poem begins. If there is breakage, we hope for healing, but will acknowledge wounds. At least, there is a sense of ongoing-ness. I cannot possibly imagine how interesting a poem can go if the onset is already recovered, restored, a state of equilibrium. Chen Chen opens “How I Become Sagacious” by inviting readers into an action: “The day the window grew till it no longer fit the house/ was the night I decided to leave.” Maureen Thorson revisits a quote from Aristotle’s On Dreams in her poem, “Meet Aristotle,” in which she amazes us with a list of contemplation on womanhood, dreams, reality, the nature of narrative, and other thinkers. She writes: “If I can pity Aristotle, it is because [she has] found a way to make him small and uncertain. A man and not a monolith. Human, capable of fooling himself, like me.”

If tarot cards reinforce the karmic nature of actions we take in reality, I would like to invite Drunken Boat’s readers to think about this with me: Why at a certain of our life do we get to know (more about) a particular poet, or poem. How do we change, both in life and on paper afterwards? A number of poets in this issue invite us to view the world differently. Solitude, to Brandon Lewis, is “a seat [that] exists in this world, and is yours,/ or that the seat is an illusion// the loneliness is nevertheless being organized…” (“On Solitude”) A messy kitchen sink consists of “[pieces] unexpectedly/ arranged and surfacing/ like orphans wanting care.” (M.B. McLatchey, “The Breakfast Piece”) And loneliness perhaps exists in a kettle: “If the fever inside dries out/ the music retires its sounds.” (Kim Kyung Ju, “The Rhythm of Falling Snow”)

Dear readers, it is always the mission of Drunken Boat to bring you creative voices that have to be heard. Before I let you go and dive into new poems from 23 poets (11 women, 12 men), I would like to share with you the card I drew from my Ascended Masters deck. I asked the universe to give a message to align with the poetry section of our new issue, and I got the card of Amaterasu, the Japanese Shinto sun goddess. Although the title message of the card may make my words unnecessarily and mischievously a bit gay (or is the card directly speaking to me?), the booklet that comes with my deck gives a further message about the card, and I hope you would take it as my blessing to you and your words: “The more authentic you are, the higher the energy and success of all of your projects.”

Nicholas Wong
Hong Kong
August 2015