The Book of the Dead Man (Superhero)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Live as if you were already dead.
Zen admonition

1. About the Dead Man and Plastic Man

Patrick “Eel” O’Brian, the dead man has been following you.
Like you, he has reached beyond his corporeal origin, that turf of
Like you, he was taught by the inmates of prisons and hospitals and
those at sea in their heads.
Like you, he thought he could jump out of his body to be free, but he
wised up.
He made his body more visible and familiar, more malleable, more
osmotic, more heady and base, more painful, and yes, more
William James, writing past the threshold of consciousness, merely
entered the realm of plasticity.
Plastic Man is the model, he of the pop-out eyes and rubbery
shoulders, of the slingshot, of knots and bows, he the
ensemble of the self.
Surely James knew automatic writing was only the perpetual
morphing of a plastic consciousness.
Like this, like what you are reading, and seeing, and almost thinking.
A poem is about what is happening as you read it.

2. More About the Dead Man and Plastic Man

Patrick “Eel” O’Brian, you became the one who could reach for the
The one who could hold his beloved’s hand from afar.
You went straight.
We pictured the twisty road, the switchbacks of a life, the hard
breathing in the passes, the sweating and the thirst.
We believed in you for thousands of years before you arrived.
The lever and pulley were stopgaps, the wheel and screw were
expedient, we were on our way.
Later, the twisted stasis of the yogis, the whirl of the Sufis, the
immobility of the monk were precursors to a new self.
The dead man is your true progeny.
He is the new self that is many.
He is the self defined by more than shape.


Photo: Tom Jorgensen

Photo: Tom Jorgensen

Marvin Bell’s nineteenth book was the wartime collection, Mars Being Red (2007). His twentieth is a collaboration titled, 7 Poets, 4 Days, 1 Book, co-authored with poets from Hungary, Malta, Russia and Slovenia, as well as the U.S. Long a member of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop faculty, he teaches now for the brief-residency MFA program based in Oregon at Pacific University. A song cycle, “The Animals,” commissioned by the composer David Gompper, premiered in October. A back-and-forth with the songwriter, Marvin Tate, appears in the current issue of Make. He is at work on a new book of “dead man” poems and a collaboration with the photographer, Nathan Lyons.

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In memory of Kurt Brown

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