On Jose Garcia Villa’s Poem No. 7


First, a poem must be magical,

Then musical as a sea-gull.

It must be a brightness moving

And hold secret a bird’s flowering.

It must be a slender bell,

And it must hold fire as well.

It must have the wisdom of bows

And it must kneel like a rose.

It must be able to hear

The luminance of dove and deer.

It must be able to hide

What it seeks, like a bride.

And over all I would like to hover

God, smiling from the poem’s cover.



If to guess is to see, then I can only guess what the poem means.

Let us see.

Here comes a poem starting to remember itself, which, as will be in the end, has to be witnessed by god, or so it seems.

But the end of the poem may also be its beginning, or rather, the poem can navigate these temporal boundaries that no human has ever approached without losing herself in the process. Either frontier can promise pure memory where forgetting never gets a chance–but what is then to remember?

What is that to the void, deep beyond the frontier, from which nothing escapes? It is a dare that no one can make, nor even unmake for then it would take as a fact that the poem must be entirely complete in the beginning. But there would be no poem. There wouldn’t be you and me. 

Precisely for its non-human nature the poem is transversal: it is becoming-end and becoming-origin at the same time—only a poem gets closer to time like this, without dissolving itself in either of the two, without becoming-time, without becoming its slave. Tell me now if it doesn’t sound magical. Only a magic can escape the bounds of time.

Or so, we can wonder from here, should it sound like magic, the poem whose unbecoming-time within time stays afloat in the river of memories where no memory ever gets the chance to sink deep in the riverbed? Or, should it taste like magic? Which one to go with? Ear, tongue, and the proverbial seeing of poetry: “To look in the eye” in which “the Same is the eye and the eye—the matrix of speculation” (from a Non-philosopher). It is going to be a choice between the tongue and the eye, between the lips and the retina; between accommodation and seeing from a distance; between making love which gathers the senses into one bastard copula and a soft allusion to the act of pornography, ah! between ‘you and me shortening the distance’ and ‘you and me separated by an abyss’.

But I have spoken so much already. I have to mention the bride which appeared towards the poem’s end which may promptly suggest a scene from a wedding ceremony; imagine here a bride snatched away from that scene, wherever it might be; or perhaps, not a ceremony at all, this spares us the trouble of going from one place to another, for we can only see an image of a bride. All the resources of the poem were spent entirely for this bride, and what an effort!

But what of the image for which a poem surrenders its secret, its voice, its most prized asset?

The bride’s image stands here for what it is now, a photo, a word processed in speech lab, a word processor, a word for the ‘here and now.’ And to complete an ecology of the image, a still image as in a photo, a foreground must also be seen, along with the figure (the bride) and the background (the magicality that started it all like the instantaneity of the shutter that makes time stand still).

Need we say for now only a god can make time stand still? Only a god can remember? Only a god can make a poem? A non-human seizing a tiny universe from a much larger one; condensing into hallelujah, or whatever sound may seem pertinent to an instance of joyful bliss, approaching saintliness?

And then, god can smile. I see him smile. I, who is not looking.





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