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Poetry Magnum Opus

physician of the soul


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A river spoke to me in a dream, I had to tell it

the red moon's reflection was not a wound. Soldiers
do not want hear about the mechanics of laparotomy,
Quenu knew battle had changed, death hissed at his
paradigm, we had mobile units, early evacuations, transport
for the wounded-the winds of propaganda could not slow down
echoes of standardization.   
The wind went blind one night, I was woken by it hands
examining my stomach for a wound, my needle's eye is
blind and the end is bent, Quenu refused the wings that
heaven sent, he dug and his spade met and touched that
of the angel digging the war out of false consciousness.
I am a surgeon not a visionary but I can see the lost vision
of my patients turning into ambulances.
I have become an agent, a physician of the soul-I have
to remain pure as the many wives of war tempt me with
despair and ravage me with rage, one wife whispers "emotive
psychosis", another "obnubliation".  A strange inversion grips me 
when I listen to patients, like mountains are climbing me and
seas are drowning in me. The winter has psychosis, it's winds
are linear, soldiers tell me of there synesthesia-they hear snow
flakes scream and  blood sing.
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  • 2 weeks later...

The title told me that I might encounter medical terms in the body of the poem. The initial line set the tone - this maybe more than just a metaphor. I am in a dream where anything can happen. The series of words that followed - red moon, wound, soldiers, surgery - transported me to a battle zone and probably an improvided medical/surgical site.

There appears to be a transition, coming out of the dream, into another reality in the second stanza.  Whether this is another dream is not clear to me at this point. Quenu, now more defined as an angel without wings. Not clear though if it were the vision that was turning into ambulances or the patients at this point. The "I" finally identified himself as a surgeon.

But there is a transition - from surgeon to 'physician of the soul'. Does that imply becoming a psychiatrist? Is the soul referring to the mind? The keywords that followed appear to confirm this - despair, rage, psychosis, and synesthesia. How that transitioned happened and if we are now still in the dream or not is not clear to me.

If this poem, eclipse, tried to deliver hallucination as an experience, then it does not have to explain things. Just experience it. 

But it does create a collage of images of war and closes with it - snow flakes scream and blood sing.

"Words are not things, and yet they are not non-things either." - Ann Lauterbach

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On 12/23/2017 at 9:49 AM, JoelJosol said:

But there is a transition - from surgeon to 'physician of the soul'. Does that imply becoming a psychiatrist?

Interesting observation. There has to be a lot of depression going around in wartime settings. Though I've only read some translations, one of my favorite poets is Georg Trakl. He was medic during WWI.



Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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