“Hill Station” is the second of three site-generated texts belonging to the sequence “Route: Western Ghats” in my book Some Beheadings. An early version of these three poems appeared in webConjunctions as an online supplement to their issue called Natural Causes. In many ways, these are the poems that began Some Beheadings, not because they were composed first (nor do they appear first in the book) but because they decided its thrust: a series of movements or routes through disparate landscapes. And the Western Ghats—which I visited for three monsoon-thick days in 2014, with the help of my brother, Siddarth Machado, who appears in this video, is a plant ecologist, and was then part of a research group cataloging species in the area—is primary among these landscapes. Primary because closest to home, because least manipulated, most biodiverse, densest.
Take this as a silent film, if you will.
Links to my book: at Nightboat; at SPD; at Amazon.
Link to another video poem: “Route: Thicket.”
I have a book in the world and it is so beautiful, thanks to the wonderful Nightboat. Also, it has received some very generous attention in the form of blurbs, reviews, and a feature/interview; they are listed below.
A small note on the blurbs, especially as blurbs can sometimes seem weird and secretive, even though they’re public. The one by the incredible, ever so important to me, Etel Adnan reads differently because it’s from a postcard she sent me (!) last year in response to my chapbook Route: Marienbad, which I’d sent to her in Paris. When putting SB together, I asked Etel Adnan if we could use a quote from her postcard, since Route: Marienbad is one of the long “Route” poems in the book. And she said yes! This is the front of her postcard (it’s a Klee, duh):
My new and first and only book of poems will be out in a few weeks, so I’m making a few recordings (some audio, some video) in . . . really just in excitement for the whole thing. Everyone involved in helping this book to be is lovely. Anyway, here’s a video I made for a sequence called “Route: Thicket”:
(Yes, it’s meant to look like that.)
Some sections from this appeared, in a slightly different form, in The Capilano Review 3.28. “I am my land, expressed” is a quotation from Edmond Jabès’s The Book of Questions: Volume I (trans. Rosmarie Waldrop). CJ Martin and Julia Drescher are responsible for getting me to think about the word “attention” through their journal ATTN:.
Oh, and, while this is probably eminently boring for many people, and possibly against some kinds of reading (which I totally get), if one cares to read, this scene from Bresson’s Au hasard Balthazar has lived in me for years and made its way into several poems, until, finally, this one: Read More
Mortal, think: what’s under a charnel’s lid:
a worm-bitten corpse, bare of nerve and
bare of flesh, whose naked bones, undone
and stripped of pulp, their swivels quit:
here, out of putrefaction, falls a hand,
and there, turning inside out, the eyes
distill into phlegm, and varied muscles,
for gluttonous worms, become some grassy land:
the torn-up belly blaring with stink
infects the nearby air with a foul stench,
and the half-gnawed nose deforms the face;
Jean-Baptiste Chassignet (1594)
This poem forewords Tali’s story of the death of a brother. The book describes the decomposition of the brother’s body upon death, and also its ruination by drug addiction and AIDS when alive. Chassignet’s baroque sonnet is thus very apt. Tali presents it incomplete—fragmented—as is the body, the narrative, elegy. You can read the entire poem, in French, here.
The translation of the poem is mine.
You can buy this book from Action Books or SPD.