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FRAGILE KINGDOM

coverpngThrone of Blood
by Cassandra Troyan
Solar Luxuriance, February 2013
90 pages / $13 Pre-order from Solar Luxiariance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICH
CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICH
CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICH
-Throne of Blood

Throne of Blood begins with a Preamble. The Preamble sets the tone for the book, just like the Preamble to the United States Constitution is a brief introductory statement of the Constitution’s fundamental purposes and guiding principles. Presumably, the poem would provide some of those for this book, Throne of Blood.

• “the drained lake muds with the girls of winter bloated and tangled at the bottom in the wreckage”
• “the smell of dead meat.”
• “the scent of rotting bowels”
• “Myafhhhauckingancaeetchesss, arrreuu stheyismines myown FEEUUCKING MEAAT!andTTTthisisfeeuucuuuckibngMINE!”
• “I slammed his head into the concrete floor”
• Edith Piaf

The Preamble begins with lyrical horror. The narrator is unbothered by dead women crowding the drained lake and the house, even when their bodies are used for decoration or masturbation by the male character. The narrator’s point of view changes when it becomes clear that the male character is the one making women into corpses.

The horror and violence, more specifically, violence against women, casts a long shadow over the rest of the book. Where the Preamble takes on horror in a narrative mode, the rest of the book inverts that formula and approachesit in a more figurative or linguistic or speculative way:

“If there could be a moment of self-realized terror,
where everyone in the world kills his or herself at the same time.”

While, the possibility of horror, fear and dread, are not explicitly present in the rest of the text, the Preamble works as Chekov’s gun, even though (spoiler alert) there isn’t really anything to foreshadow since the remainder of the book is considerably less linear and narrative. Even though the rest isn’t what I would call a story, the poems are still haunted by the dead girls.

I think the book manages to do a lot of things very successfully, from the disgust, horror, and repulsion of the Preamble, to a candid and intimate lyricism that comes later in poems like Fragile Kingdom. That poem could stand as a synecdoche for the work; it seems like text and the design are hardly holding together, dreadfully balanced, about to collapse. The work is annihilating itself, as are most of the narrators. Narrator is maybe a funny word to use since it seems like the concept of narration is not dismissed, but damaged in the work.

The theatre is a fiction
that I have writ myself true to.

Even the layout lends to the reading of the text as flung open, with the words left and right justified on the recto and verso respectively. The titles are on the lower outside corner oriented perpendicular to the rest of the text, reading from bottom to top, which make it particularly easy to simply continue through the text as if it were one long work.

There will always linger a quiver as we repeat the affair again, and again. Rise up on our throne of blood call it CORPSE MOUNTAIN built from what intangibles uncertain.

Search for Throne of Blood, and you find a Japanese film based on MacBeth, which makes a lot of sense. It takes an awful lot of corpses to make a book.

Actually just look at my face please and let me sit on yr chest.

I’m going to punch you in the dick,
spill water on yr 15” MacBook Pro.

I will need more fidelity. I will not give up.
I will show up at yr apartment
and ring the buzzer and wait
outside even after you let me in
and I will breathe through the building
exhaling into the speaker
our face could never be that close.

Sometimes the blood stops flowing, or maybe it doesn’t. This is from The Castle That Only God Knows.  There are multiple distinct tones and voices in the book. While some come from a sort of dream horror world others come from a world with MacBook Pros. Then there are dry lakes full of bodies and head smashing. Then there are poems that are possessed by lyricism. Then there are klonopin poems, lists of side effects, lists of substances consumed.

YOU’RE GONNA BE SO FUCKING HAPPY

You’re in an artist loft in Brooklyn in a room full of people drinking
coffee on a Sunday afternoon and you answer the phone and
start speaking Czech and for a moment you almost forgot what it
means to be dead.

Sometimes the least lyrical moments are the most plaintive:

Please don’t tell anyone I’m crazy.
I couldn’t bear for people to be collectively and overly concerned.

Overall the book is harsh, not gentle. It arrives at a sublime through violence, horror, and decay. It is still interested in the sublime.

Reigning over the sublimity of one’s impassioned distance.

Throne of Blood is an impassioned distance. It’s not a thing that can be attained or obtained.

I’m a true romantic so I need you to hit me.
Negation of this disaster
is the only thing that can save it.

Throne of Blood is an explicitly hard work because the hard thing it is doing is trying to approach the sublime through annihilation of the self. This isn’t always an easy thing to do or read. Where at one point the annihilation of the self would have been through the experience of “Nature” or “God” or “Love” here it is the experience of horror, banality, language, sex, and yes, CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICHES.

***

Leif Haven is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. Other work can be found at leifhaven.com.

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