FEATURED POET: DAVID BAPTISTE-CHIROTEileen Tabios Presents David Baptiste-Chirot
David Baptiste-Chirot. To "introduce" him, I refer you to his words at Otolith. Also relevant is his conversation with Geoff Huth. Of course, there's David's Blog.
Oh, but I did ask him for a "bio" and David replied: "let me see--who am i again? my poet witness protecttion bio or my real bio or my laternate bio or the
one i make anew every day bio [...] here we go with this: david-baptiste chirot: born in lafayette, indiana, grew up in vermont. lived in gottingen, germany, arles & paris, france, hastveda, sweden, wroclaw, poland, boston and milwaukee. since 1997 essays, poetry, visual poety, performance/event scores, sound poetry, prose poetry have appeared in 90+ print journals, dozens of web journals and sites, 300 mail art calls. several books: found rubBEings (Xerolage 32) ANARKEYOLOGY (runaway spoon)REVERBERATIONS (Lulu) ZERO POEM (Traverse) tearerISm (singlepress) HUNG ER (neotrope) and chapbooks, work in many anthologies in USA and UK. google search david baptiste chirot / blog: davidbaptistechirot.blogspot.com"
Anyway, that "bio" checked off, I can share that I had known of David primarily through his images, specifically his "rubBEings" which are among the most moving, evocative and conceptually-sound art works I've witnessed/experienced. So I'm particularly pleased here to present David's words: selections from David's "AFTER RIMBAUD'S ILLUMINATIONS." His words, I find, are just as evocative -- and air-y -- as his images. But of course there still must be imagery and the first image is of Rimbaud -- xylol transerred xerox image with David's unique "rubBEings". Lastly, I believe David's texts practice what is summed up in the last image:
A DIRECT POETICS
AFTER RIMBAUD’S ILLUMINATIONS
To zack pieper
At the fair her dress floats in the breeze. The loud voices of carnies trying to overpower reason. The stench of spilled wine. Her eyes hide behind her large lashes. Her bare arm is summer browned. Holding her hand I feel further away than the slight moon above the ferris wheel.
Entering the dark low doored bar. A smell of sawdust long unswept, wet and rancid. The bartender a giant African. Gesturing to the courtyard he says--"through there"--a small arch. In the courtyard rain is falling.
Wooden doors indicate the toilets. Two have no door. Opening the one door a man with pants around his ankles shrieks and is hopping and chasing me with a knife.
The girls in this town have large supple thighs. Below the knees, the legs bared, they swing their feet in time to the band. Sitting on the stone embankments along the ancient street, when they slightly part their legs in skirts the heat of summer rushes out into the evening.
The farmhouse in the distance. A few trees mark the sky at twilight. My friend is frightened, he has no papers. A dog barks and a man appears. Inside, they give us sandwiches thick with fresh butter.
I am the one walking continually these streets and alleys. All wall cracks and road holes are known to me. I am the one listening to the peripheral languages signaling from the hubcaps, the shining metals, the bright plastics, the painted woods. The construction site overwhelms me with its orchestrations of colors, sounds, shards-- its chaos and order exchanging forms. The melted snow runs in rivulets among smashed stones.
Puddles pool slick with oil. I am finding slowly fragments of myself here.
After all it is called a construction site.
He is showing me the way. Entering an abandoned brick building, we walk among shattered floor boards coated with mud and rust streaks. There is the sound of water dripping. Above us we can see through the next floor up--through to further floors above with gaping holes in cracked shattering wood. A pale rain of plaster dust lightly patinas our coats. It is very cold. In the long basement it is very dim. Near one light bulb there is a hole in the long metal pipes. A man is collecting water as it drips from a corroded hole. One arm has a belt wrapped around it. Another man is heating a spoon with a liquid in it. My friend brings me to meet a small man shivering in the dank air. Behind him is a row of prone people on the remains of mattresses. The man and my friend are speaking. Later the basement the damp the dust the danger--we will not care.
The path leads up a gentle slope among heather and thistles. The wind is making the trees murmur. The sky is a grey sea. There is a child I pass. He stares at me. Ahead lies a clearing. Walking steadily and quietly at the hill's top I sight the lynx ahead, standing in the path. He is staring at me and I at him. A pause in time. Then he moves off. I continue with my eyes changed.
We sing sitting in the crashed truck in the woods. It is a spring day --the sky is blue and white clouds are streaming in the breezes. A dead man sits inside the windshield shattered cab. His bloody face is staring, tilted towards us as we rock our seated bodies and look at him. We keep singing. It is a fine day to be getting high in among the trees. Perhaps he too would like a drink? Or join in a game of cards with us? He could draw the card of death. If it was bingo, his number would be up. Tilting he looks as though leaning towards the open window to ask directions. I do not know if to point towards--heaven or hell--
Jean-Pierre is cooking horsemeat in blood and wine with garlic. It makes the cramped L shaped apartment in the slowly collapsing building all the hotter. Marcel is showing me how to make plastiques. His hard hands work slowly so I may learn. For once we are not smoking with cigarettes hanging from our lips. We are not suicidal after all. Certainly not on such a night. Marcel says three girls are coming. We will fuck them in the ass. He says they are very tight this way. But no children you see, he says, no complications. The three stacked tvs are talking incessantly about the approaching moon landing. Some famous person is saying that in Jules Verne's books and Melies' very early film classic the French have been there first. You see what assholes they are Marcel says. They think they own history. With these little bombs we will make a hole in history and then--and then--the people will rush in. The little bombs are almost done and Jean-Pierre is calling us to come eat meat and blood and wine and garlic. We will light candles but not say Grace. The three virgins are coming for us. Perhaps one can enter heaven backwards. It is very hot in here. I am to meet someone. I do not know who. The evening light is dimming. A few street lights come on.
After thick rain. Mud boiling in the dirt roads, old logging roads leading uphill. Around lie the shattered trunks and the trees still standing are thin. Early evening and we are drinking cheap wine. The idea is that if the police find us, we can say we are drinking, not high on drugs. Not that the police come up here anyway. Must be just an excuse we use for drinking. The cheap shit we are drinking, you better have a good excuse for such bad taste.
The girl with him is very small. Her hair is a dun color and her eyes quick like birds'. She wears an old boy's jacket too large for her. She keeps moving her legs back and forth, making marks in the dirt road. She doesn't talk much he says. I like that. She looks up and smiles dimly. He hands her beer in a bottle. I know she's not much to look at he says. But look at her teeth. She has buck teeth, very sturdy looking ones protruding from thin lips. You see--in a pinch we use them for bottle openers.
Very dusty evening at the train station. A hot wind and lurid sun make the air feel on fire. Standing waiting are a long line of North bound Arab workers in cheap suits with small bundles. Some Spaniards are standing barefoot, craning their necks to peer into the incendiary distance. The station master wears a long dirty mustache. Women in brightly colored robes with their heads covered hold noisy small children. Some young couples are locked in embraces. One man has his hand up his girl's dress, and she her hand down his pants. A woman jerks a gaping child away. A few men are laughing and drinking wine, passing a large wicker encased bottle. The light to the East is gold. Every person in it a Saint in an icon in this moment in time. From the fiery West the train is approaching. Soon all hell will let loose.
I have been standing on this corner under a flickering street lamp for quite some time. It is dark and lonely here, a parking lot by a large supermarket and drug store set back from the River. A few furtive figures can be seen skirmishing in the bushes. A man suddenly appears, his arm bleeding. Fucking asshole he yells. You missed the damn vein. You blind or somethin’. A woman walks by crying. Behind her a man is making threatening gestures with his arms. A dwarf I have seen before some place comes up to me. Got a light. I do. He puffs his cigarette and slits his eyes. You waiting too. I nod. He walks off, begins to pace in a circle. The air is getting chilly. A dank breeze is coming up from the river. Looking into the distance all I can see are a few lamps glowing in thick black air. Not even a star to wish upon. Time is slowing into a taut agony. A seething hate begins to coil in my heart. I want to kill the man I am waiting for. I will do it slowly, too. I will begin with his sweaty belly he is so self conscious of. Stick it with thin blades I pull slowly to see the blood trickle and look up at his bulging eyes. To hear his shrieks will be a cooling balm. To smell the fear in him will be a musk unto the nostrils. I shall gather his hair in my hands and bow his head. There I shall slowly burn a cigarette. His pain shall be an offering. I shall knee him in the groin. As he doubles I shall throw hot oils upon him. His being shall be eclipsed in pain. He shall enter the endless corridors of suffering and journey past the mirrors of his torture. His damnation shall know no end. A soft slightly sickeningly sweet voice is beside me. I turn and he is there. I have it, I have all of it. And more, extra just for you. My whole being is rejoicing. I feel the healing waters run over me. He is handing me the benedictions. Suddenly I embrace him. I worship false idols. I am so very far from life. I have become someone else. The dirty River is glittering beneath the few lights along this stretch of it. I tie up my arm. I hope all the waiting has been worth it. God knows, I have been to hell and back. A little heaven might do.
We are trying to sleep on a traffic island on a highway somewhere near Lyon. There is a small roof for some reason here that we have crawled under. It is raining heavily. So heavily we can barely hear the sounds of the trucks rushing past. We pull out some smokes and bread. My friend is crying. I can't cry because I am older than him. I lie back and smoke. The smoke is curling and crashing against this concrete covering. Our world is going up in smoke and coming down like rain.
This is a very strange place. I am sitting on the edge of a bed looking out the window at a small yard flanked by extensions of this building I seem to be in. A laundry line hangs limp. A picnic table with a crow perched on it. The only sound I hear is someone yelling loudly over and over motherfucking motherfucker. The light has a yellow tinge to it. It slants and makes a line separating light from shadow on a building opposite. There is an alley, narrow and only partly made of bricks. A cat is moving slowly along it. The rest of the area is brown and yellow short grass in muddy looking dirt. A man is suddenly here looking at me. His face is quiet and his eyes are encyclopedias. You got time to get used to it bro. The best part is when the cat chases the birds.
I saw her smoking yesterday leaning against the brick wall behind the school. She had a curve to the way she brought the cigarette to her lips. She dragged long and slow and her cheekbones were the high lonesome sound of mountains in the spring. I knew that moment I wanted and needed to be with her. She and I the other of each other. We are finally to meet I realized. All my life for this moment, this face. Today I am walking up to her in the hall. She is leaning her back against a locker and her legs are stretched out. She is pulling them slowly up as I come closer. She is looking into my eyes. She has brown eyes like me. My other's eyes gleaming into mine. Her cheekbones are so high I feel them as horizons. Her thin lips open to smile at me. I am standing here--I slowly put out a hand towards her. Will you go out with me. She smiles so very bright. Yes she says. Yes. I am bending to give her my hand to raise her up to me. Her lips are parting and her eyes look into mine. Brown like mine. She is coming close to me. Now an arm is between us. Large and thick and blue. A policeman shoves us apart. Another one from behind me pulls me away. Three more policemen come and an official from the school wringing his hands. They pull me away so I can't hear what is going on. I can only watch. Hold on kid. My hands are pulled back and cuffed. Easy kid easy. The three policemen are bending over her while the first one cuffs her. She is kneeling on the floor. They take her arms and raise her up. She is looking over shoulder as they take her away. Don't forget I hear her say. I yell back. The cop jerks me from behind. You stay here kid. Another cop is standing by me. What is happening. The neighbors called. She shot her grandmother. You better forget about her kid. Am I in a movie I am wondering. It is happening so fast and so slow all at once. The air is filled with thick heavy blue. I want to see the sky in her cheekbones. I want to hear their high lonesome sound. They are leading me down the hall. What'd you see in her son. She's just a cold blooded killer. In her eyes I see my other of myself. The high lonesome horizon of the killer inside me.
to michelle greenblaatt
Man whose name I do not know, sweating man, pale flabby skinned cancelled eyes man . . . . sawdust caking you.
With each step I enter a different landscape. In each one I live completely.
Light filtering through ever thickening dust and dirt, light flickering in intensifying heat.
Eyes fixed upwards, seeing the skylight
White out, a white out.
Down a very dirty dark corridor. Windows here all boarded up. Light pounding futilely throbs my head.
A turn in the darkness. In the distance, light from a cracked-open door.
“Man you want is inside of there.”
Pushing the door . . . watching it swing slow motion open . . .
From a small skylight, a shadow cast in the dust.
Time is there, just time.
Standing and looking . . . all the time in the world he’d left behind, dust and shadows on the floor.
Not far from his bare feet hanging a kicked stool’s height from the floor, his small strangled son lay in dust and shadows.
In this darkened room among bodies on the floor drug coiled veins exist vampirically. A sexual structure of death is long abandoned. New forms of chastity mockingly adorn attenuated bodies. Of the scents of arousal there are no signs amid films of clammy sweat. Beaches of no sound watch waves break in wan light. Disconnected strands of mysticism lie among washed up waste. Pallid hands splay still among bleached mirrors. Inching along by the elbows a woman gasping for breath seeks a syringe. The monumental floor crumbs keep impeding her. The heavy door is locked and candles are burning. Air bubbles, air bubbles . . . you don’t want air bubbles in your shot . . . Among dimming memories, air bubbles burst, fly away . . . are absorbed among the thick curtains. Curtains, curtains . . . sing song-y sings . . . its curtains, curtains . . . slowly it’s curtains . . . inching along . . . gasping for breath . . . among bodies . . . on the floor . . . Curtains . . . it’s curtains . . . slowly . . . it’s curtains . . . sing song-y sings . . . sighing . . . sighing . . . air bubbles away . . .