NLW(5): Making Séance of Natalie Lyalin’s “Get Out Of Here, Ghost” (Guest Post by Seth Parker)
Thursday and Friday are Sethdays in Natalie Lyalin Week. Today we have poet and frozen vegetable czar Seth Parker, editor of SKEIN, serving up his prophetic ghost vision of Natalie’s poetry. Plus, Seth reminds us: You can buy Natalie Lyalin’s first book of poems, Pink & Hot Pink Habitat (Coconut Books) now. Check out her unbelievable journal, GlitterPony, online, and see her read her work at Divine Magnet.
GET OUT OF HERE, GHOST
All these days were real. Before hunting season
we met on the courts, in manicured gardens,
next to man-made water. This whole time I
was deep sleeping. I was packing the dirt in
and being happy. Looking inside a python I saw
two tracts of digestion. Outside. Outside is
an obvious danger. Gun and killer kind. At
night they come in and we battle them back
out. Get out of here. Get going with your
pitchforks. In wedding season we talk
colors. We talk delicate and scalloped.
How it is only human to have the fontanel.
Yes, make an ancient signal to carry over
all the side of the ocean. If no, send creepy
letters to your most annoying friends. Be
a mistress, or a lost sister coming back.
The ghost is this-and-that, here and gone, uncannily home but not home. It’s there and not there and there’s something so chthonic about it. I keep returning to this poem by Natalie Lyalin like it’s got a secret lock in it. When you have a moment, please take a look yourself at this and two other pieces in Issue 3 of notnostrums.
I just want to open up a couple lines of inquiry into the poem and then leave you roiling in the mystery.
“i think of ghosts as nostalgia or regret,” Natalie said in a recent g-chat. “and i think i write from a nostalgic place, so ghosts are comforting because it means things are never really over….i can tell you that the title of that poem is from There Will Be Blood.”
The poem is a ghost and the poet, for the moment, a ghost, too, across the ocean. Across the wide expanse of the sea of the text, she’s sending out “ancient signals,” pinpointing us in her wordly matrix, her web of worlds. There is the call out, then the reply, and in the process a locating ourselves in the sound. It’s the ghost of the poem that answers.
There’s a coupling and reversal of spells here. There’s a fighting fire with fire within the lines. Inside becomes out, twisty-tossy. Yes is No. Day has, half-way through the poem, turned to night, as it does. It’s a careful balancing or mirroring of elemental, atomic forces at odds, rewarding at the same time it is warding off. It’s a galaxy in and of itself, telling us something universal and at the same time irretrievably one’s own….
From the “manicured gardens” of the first lines, to the snake and resulting exile, there are, afterwards in the poem, generations and, finally, return. And it’s this turning and returning that matter so much in the poem–turning things back on themselves; the turning of seasons, of phase and phrase; turning to the past; the return of the ghost and the returning fire of the poem to meet it. The turns, returns and detours of the poem keep us coming back.
In its casting off the ghost, it actually, in a way, inscribes this return–of the ghost, of the reader to the work. The very center of the poem is a hinge at the critical point of casting out what isn’t wanted–a separation (kadosh) of the one from the other, and, in so doing, a re-sanctification of an ever-expanding wor(l)d. Turn and turn her poem, for everything is in it.