Mona Arshi

After Party/ After life


I say: Please.. can I join you for a few moments in this sort of conjuring -I’m a fan?


He says: Sure. I’ve taken the pulse , I’ve taken the temperature here
in the afterlife, I’ve run so far away from myself and your hot bodies
I’ve parted the willow trees hair pained myself in the water,
I’ve studied the breathing moss,
sampled some of the delights of the underworld,
all its potions and charms their versions of snails
and the true earthworms and the hollyhocks and I’ve
tamed my ear brought it down so close to hunt down
the music and it’s all so inhalable and bright and all it’s all so so so


And I say :Tell me more, those are totemic lines –


And he says: You poets . You poets are all the same…
So much for your stomach-churning ambiguity
and your personas and sad fishing performances
here the poets take off their putrid costumes
this is a party with a commitment to the
afterwards where the errant rules, where the delinquent poets
are outed and placed in the middle of the treeless field
naked as dusk -this is the afterlife after party
of course I’m not going hand it to you on
a steel platter in all straight lines.


And then he says:


I’m going be wearing
my best version disguise painted
in madder root -like those quick footed clowns
all oozy like the mushrooms we picked
and I’ll tell you something else
I find new words here language
For the word when you ready yourself
For a photograph tilting your head right back
-just so and a new word for the moon sat in its pocket
embalmed drunk in its bright yellow liquor

Isay: ok tell me about lyrical beauty again
I say if feeling is first then can you tell me how it is for you
bring me out poem if you can..


And he laughs says: all the sound engineers have gone home but
Ok ….


I’ll attempt something in this dharmic frame
In the blind moments of this insane
Uncoupling from the breathing world
It kind of feels pure and pellucid as pain
And yet right as rain
In full rhyme


And I say-thank-you.
Thank you,
Aladdin insane


And.. he goes quiet and says:
It was brave of me right to try on
the other parts myself right
all earthy and sweat and
so blurry and the audience right there
bright or brittling like icicles
caught in the mouth of a cave?
That’s the version of a lifeI’m re-Sampling ,
it’s so beautiful and insane, the fire ants in their fedoras
travelling along the delicious veins
of the flowers …what a fucking party.


Then he says: You poets are all the same
wielding your knives in the rafters
practicing your moves
but have you truly watched that man,
there in the shadows
are you watching him cut out his heart
not content for the music to resolve itself
sympathetically ..syntactically -unfolding-long cord of breath
watch that man, feed him the question to the answer
we knew all along
when the song begins to sting you have to stop.



You can also see the full performance of all the Bowie-inspired poems at The Southbank Centre on Friday 21st April, at the ‘NPL Presents: Aladdin Sound’ event. Tickets can be purchased here.

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