Writing to Stop

rao unsqeezedMani Rao (b. India 1965, r. Hong Kong 1993-) is a poet, and the author of Echolocation, Salt, The Last Beach, Living Shadows, Catapult Season and Wingspan. "Cuntree" is around her own experience of immigration to Hong Kong in 1993. "Writing to Stop" is about where she is. Her texture's density comes from how she locates herself, it is a play -- of sound, voice, and perspective. And some of her play in public spaces like cafe windows and toilets can be seen on http://www.manirao.com.

Writers, fireflies, mistake white paper for light.

The only writing really necessary is one's Last Will and Testament, and even that implies a lack of trust.

If we don't stop writing love poems, how can we be loved?

So the cured writer threw all her writing into the compost – the vegetables that grew turned eaters into writers.

Does the tree take you to the sentence, or the sentence to the tree?

Writers once communed to work, to take their position as gatekeepers. Now fallen asleep at the post, what's there to guard, the raided vault free of conscience, and the community's irrupted impotence pleads not guilty.

Mishearing the question – are writers profits? – was a part of the symptom, as writer after writer explained they were in no position to play lens. Severed, they had fallen into the pit of relativity and dedicated their lives to comparing this truth with that.

Now closed in by mirrors on all sides, there is expandable space for more writers to play the mumbling peripatetic undead, propped by a dicta-phone or notepad-pen. Whatever they ear, it's not each other.

Water, flat and earless. Fins sliced before sharks tossed back into the sea.

Boiler mouth, blockaded ear valve. Mouths ladle air. Soup thinner and thinner, audience.

A matter of time before ears fall off. Meanwhile holes can be corked and lobes can be hooks.

Primitive telephones were nimble and balanced, sprinting back and forth between mouth and ear. When the handset's dumb-bell shape came about – seesaw – it was a warning, an aid to exercise both organs in equal measure. Ironically, today's bug-sized phones clog ears, while really being powerful microphones.

It does seem as though mouth ogre can only ever be temporarily appeased by fame's offerings, or writers who enjoy notoriety would not continue to confess. It's a getting rid of, a clean habit.

According to one why, there was a pile of limestone rubble in Giza after the pyramid was done. Instead of carting it all away, they put it together in the shape of The Great Sphinx, and gave her the job of guarding the necropolis.

Our body of writing guards our tombs and loves to strangle victims – sphingo, in Greek – someone please chop her nose.

Sound continues to rise in the shape of a funnel we are digging our way out of, with.

When we have recycled the page and written on the other side of it, we wash off the ink, pulp it and make more. Consumed, our body's a matchstick in language forest fire, patches of ink fertilize the soil, new trees, more logging, more martyrs. The congenital disease, and the curse.

How can this curse be lifted?

Cure, as opposed to temporary relief from pain.

Inside the relativity pit, there are those so struck, they hold language by its wings and look at it, a child's sharp delight dismembering a butterfly. Language replies, the dice is thrown, the stakes increase, both sides keep losing limbs in the fray, and the impasse is utterlessness.

Arriving here comes with a wild hope, spaceshuttles on standby, tentative about a schedule for a new watery planet. Nothing happens, language is language and gives away no clues.

When the detective heard that artists were interrupted yogis, she went to Patanjali. She learned, that together with the opening of certain chakra one also gained the ability to comprehend any language of any realm, whether animal, human or spirit. Crucially, this new skill lay safest in the hands of a yogi beyond the desire to intervene. Imagine the disastrous consequences of trying to act upon overheard casual banter between idle crows, malicious dogs. This corroborated my own childhood unbafflement with conversations between animals and humans in the Jataka tales.

Writers need help to levitate, they seem to suffocate when they don't write, language is the air they breathe, the atmosphere they live in, and atmosphere stays bound, to the earth.

Atmosphere also holds moisture which acts like glue. In Egyptian mythology, Atum of Heliopolis creates a son, Shu the God of Air, and a daughter, Tefnut the Goddess of Moisture. In turn, Shu and Tefnut together (pro)create the earth and sky. If language is Shu, then Tefnut must be silence.

Silent, Charlie Chaplin and Mr.Bean become universal instead of themselves.

One, more sound. Collective flogging of sound. With everyone a mouth, speaking exercises anonymity. The cultivation of monofloral bees an impossibility as even the flowers cross-breed and defy isolation in greenhouses. Auroma no longer recognizably distinctive. Faults of the signature too inconsistent to be admissible. Chanting.

Two, more silence.

When the temperature drops suddenly, trees panic; so that they may not be stuck in the frost with their leaves out they go into hyperactivity and in a matter of hours they withdraw all the ink from their leaves, leaving behind a yellow and red dry blaze. Writer, if you want to keep that one greedy hand in the jar; godspeed pulling out in time for a sudden winter.

Notes: Study how bee populations die.

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After Katrina

4.2 Winter 2006

  1. Editorial

  2. Paul Merchant translates

  3. Adrienne Ho translates

  4. Prose Poetry by Mani Rao

  5. Nathalie Stephens

    • Poems
      Introduced by Cole Swensen
  6. Suzana Abspoel Djodjo

    • From Snajper
      Translated from the Croatian by Tomislav Kuzmanovic
  7. On Institutions of Creative Writing

  8. Postcard From New Orleans