Amy Catanzano: Four Poems toward a Quantum Poetics

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 6:36 AM

Notes on the Enclosure of Notes

We were free like fixed stars.
They fall beneath me.

I do not move; we are free to clear the space with these
stars. Space clears the stars from my eyes.
They are moving, and we

are free to fix the stars. They move
without falling. We are falling

and free. We are free

to make a spell with the stars.

Space is free; I populate
the space with stars. We fall beneath them like the sea.
We clear the sea
of its space.

We are free; the sea is free. The sea
is fixed. The sea has

moved;

I am fixed by the falling stars.

We clear the space from our eyes so that all we see
are the stars. The sea moves.

It is populated with words; the sea falls like a star.
We are free to clear the words
from our eyes.

They do not move. Words are not fixed

stars. I am free in the sea. I am free like the words
falling; nothing

is fixed. We populate the words in our eyes
with stars; we fall with them in space

up from the sea, free.

[Originally published in Multiversal (Fordham University Press, 2009)]

“…SCIENCE with a capital SCYTHE!”
In honor of Alfred Jarry’s “The Supermale”

The Supermale’s
solid tear is worn

in the ring like a
perpetual heart

of both the machine
and the woman

who fell in love
with the man

’shadow, neither
immaterially nor

infinitely but
indefinitely, a god-

-dess embracing
past light records

in proximity to
the other starlike

world they create—
the department

of the impossible—
I, too, adore

The Becoming of Memory

How does anything shimmer beyond its borders? I found courage in the parody of my theory of the machine. That’s how singularities end, Aletheia thinks. Speculatively. As long as I hold on to it you will write me. I will be borderless for you, and you, in return, will border me.

Once across, she focuses on her goal, performing the experiment from the inside out. Hours in, she hears a voice behind her.

Away in the world, the voice hums.

Aletheia turns around. Something emerges from near the largest of her test tubes.

Unlike Aletheia it did not need a name. Its gravity was strong. It resisted the idea of its final form, and this pleased it. But it was dangerous. Whereas Aletheia was narrow it was one of many, a ghost from the inner colonies, as when implicating something, it would ask, what divides the world from the war? Using the land we know.

It’s been too long, Aletheia says, speaking to it through space.

It reads and responds in a close dialect. I thought we weren’t concerned with time anymore, it grins.

You got me there.

It notices Aletheia’s predicament. You’re unconcealed, it says.

That’s why I need to find Epoché.

It nods. I’m headed to the temporary autonomous zones. I imagine you haven’t been there, to the surveillance ruins? Can I bring you back anything? it laughs.

Aletheia relaxes. I’ve heard about the temporary autonomous zones, she says. Like you, they are something of a legend.

They are entryways, it admits.

The government’s physics, she whispers.

Aletheia knew deep inside the planet in her mind that a forest was always clearing. The surveillance ruins were no place for her. She needed to find Epoché. So they would join forces against the war. If they hadn’t already. This would require an extropian’s perspective.

And everything that is detected, like art, it interrupts. It assembles the space so that she can read between its lines.

We will split the unsuspecting flatlanders right in half! Aletheia declares, then shifts her gaze to the crowns of semperviviams nesting the doorway. Nearby, the quilled chrysanthemums bloom spherically, sprayed, and thread-petaled. Even out of focus, I prefer the cornflower or blue bottle, like the beloved music from an instrument you once knew and played.

[From “Starlight in Two Million: A Neo-Scientific Novella”]

This is the Value of Inquiry

Blissymbols were a plausible language
to some but not all. So he
went to his library.
Something replicated.
Undressed.
He examined features.
Some petals grew into portals.
But he didn’t stop at symmetry.
Not this time.
Limbs produced the rarest results.
But he needed something else.
That would work day or night.
Change on their own.
And keep up.
In clumps.
Sometimes legibly.
Like organs, they were internal.
They grew larger.
Into scales.
One scale was blue.
Another orange.
Some flames were green.
Lakes.
Still others were without color.
And others with all.
His favorite color was the vowel.
Her favorite vowel was the atom.
His favorite atom was the rhythm.
Her favorite rhythm was the prism.
His favorite prism was the violet.
Her favorite violet was the lyric.
His favorite lyric was the logic.
Her favorite logic was the toxic.
His favorite toxic was the vertex.
Her favorite vertex was the tonic.
His favorite tonic was the cortex.
Her favorite cortex was the planet.
To his delight, it seemed to be
working. The ocean was getting
louder. Aletheia and Epoché
would soon arrive.

[From “Starlight in Two Million: A Neo-Scientific Novella”]

N.B. Amy Catanzano’s seminal essay on Quantum Poetics appeared earlier in Poems and Poetics – in two installments, here and here. Her latest book of poems, Multiversal, received a 2010 PEN USA Literary Award in Poetry.

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