Vicissitudes — January 6, 2021
i I am weary of riding on this blistering train wreck in slo-mo po-mo as each car accordions in cacophony. JFK, MLK, Jr., RFK assassinated John Lennon on the streets of New York Apartheid, Berlin Wall, USSR collapsing Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin,Tet Offensive, My Lai Massacre Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Movement, GLBTQ+ Rights Movement endlessly debated Fall of Saigon, Afghanistan War, Iraq War, Iran unrequited I tear my eyes out but can’t turn away, in fear of the dystrophic waters that flow below the trembling bridge that crumbles. Birmingham Church Bombing, Watts Riots exploding Fred Hampton, Chicago Eight, Kent State calamities Air India Flight 182, Lockerbie, Bombay, Angola lives torn asunder Jonestown, Oklahoma City, Tiananmen Square thunder 9/11, Camp Speicher, Congo, Sinjar, Sri Lanka deaths beyond number Mogadishu, Trujillo, Karrada Bombing, Gamoru Ngala too many to consider Each rent metal frame scratches deep my retinal consciousness like fishhooks in flesh Three-Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima nuclear winter Polio, AIDS, Coronaviruses infection rates soaring Charlie Hebdo, Manchester Arena, Paris 2015 mass murder Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, George Floyd police killing Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, Donald Trump rape with impunity Nixon, Clinton, Trump, and Trump… I am tired of sludging through history, its vicissitudes impinging, vicious études unhinging—this transcontinental chugging and lugging to ruin. ii With barely time left, I smash through the window, gaze up and down the oppressed-laid lines, manufactured metal that trends to inevitability. I pull myself out to see, tumble down into the slough. Trudging toward a muddy shore from below the mountain of train shriek and colliding-car drum-beat, I see colorful hints of wild flowers struggling for succor— dark hyacinths, pale daffodils, bold crocuses, bright anemones. With these colors, I want to illuminate the massive wreckage around me.
Orc, the spirit of revolution, announces the renewal of “fiery joy” in the text, but his words are written on a cloud between the dark waters of the Atlantic and the domineering figure of Urizen, the creator of the fallen world and a Moses-like promulgator of its laws. He is a skygod “who sat/ Above all heavens wrap’d” (plate 18). His name puns on both “your reason” and the Greek word for “horizon,” respectively for Blake the primary mental and physical limitations encumbering human vision. Urizen’s cloudy realm is at once both material and insubstantial, like the abstractions of rationalist science and natural religion Blake abhorred.…Essick, Robert N. William Blake at The Huntington. New York: Harry N. Abrams. 1994. p. 40
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