March 10th, 2014 / 11:00 am
Reviews

Kaleidoscopic Omniscience by Will Alexander

kaleidoscopic300Kaleidoscopic Omniscience
by Will Alexander
Skylight Press, 2013
274 pages / $21.99  Buy from Amazon or Skylight Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is in essence a collected early works Kaleidoscopic Omniscience gathers together Will Alexander’s early collections Asia & Haiti and The Stratospheric Canticles along with a long-promised but never published collection of shorter poems Impulse & Nothingness.

Vermillion shades of astral haunts abound as Alexander takes his readers through a psychedelic romp that leaves the consciousness reeling. There’s nothing usual about Alexander’s visionary take on history: the contemporary, the ancient, and the yet-to-be-possible-yet-possibly-not all come together simultaneously happening in the immediate now of his poems. Welcome to the sci-fi gothic splendor that is Alexander’s forte.

This is news from the beyond gathered by a shamanic visionary. Spun from out his psycho-imaginative journeys through previously unheard realms of existence. All grounded within his particular chthonic as well as vatic orders. He’s listening to frequencies to which few others are privy. (Too few others.) The messages conveyed by his poems are imbedded beneath soaring tonalities and scattered throughout lines with cryptic zeal.

Both “Asia” & “Haiti” are epic in scope. The ghosts of silenced communities spanning a global axis of oppression and denied freedom are given voice. The poems from beginning to end are one long address.

“we
the once green wings of magical Tibet
accused by the Maoists
by the exterior flames of ideology & assault”
(“Asia”)

And

“it is we who speak
with a sun of splinters spewing from our heart
from our thorax burning with intestinal moray explosion
we
the Africa of Songhai & Mali
we
of original reptile wisdom
we
the first gatherers of wool
through sun
through apertures spinning
in a ruptured lightning gorge”
(“Haiti”)

The spirits of “Asia” announce “we’ve emerged / with our murmurs” carrying their stories into the public address of the poem.

“we
the old fiery Lamas from the ocean
from the great green thrones of infinity”

The poem’s only agenda is found in hearing their assessment of spurned refusal. Their insistence to be heard carries the poem in one long gushing of overlooked memory. It is a story of resilience in the face of destruction. These voices are not holding up any olive branch, there’s to be no hope of reconciliation.

“we
of high magic
of timeless rectitude &cleansing
of fierce immunity & weaving
have burned up resistance
have scattered the laws
have torn down the prophets
(“Asia”)

The voices in “Haiti” are likewise irredeemably disgruntled, to say the least.

“we speak
as the referential poltergeist
as the living comprehension of plasmas ingesting a raving
perjury & ridicule”

Irrepressibly defiant, they are not to be messed with.

“our volatile anguish is rising to a pitch of unspared power
which strengthens itself like many meteors whirling across a sulphurous deluge
our force being gained
by a black heptagonal anger
we who exist
in syllogistic absorption
blazing”

This is one blasting exhaustive curse hurled down through time, across space. Alexander is merely the vessel through which the condemnation pours forth.

“the incarnadine crows
we’ve mingled with our relics & our teeth
as they ferociously litter
your garments with a palpable strychninetherefore you are marked
with tortured spellbinder’s urine
with inverted ganglionics
with messages condemned through amphoras

yes
your souls combined & laced with sullage
with dense & intractable vevers which slither
with sunless sea horse gangrene”

(“Haiti”)

These two long poems clue readers in on historical events from out the underbelly of common knowledge. They are reminders of what it means to have a history handed down to us from corrupted sanctioned halls of the powerful. Alexander gives us the tools to undertake study of these little known histories. There’s a very useful glossary in back of the book. This assists in understanding unfamiliar figures and terms. For instance, “vevers” in the above lines refers to “Symbolic caballa-like designs drawn on the ground to invoke the loa at ceremonies, made of wheat or maize flour or ashes.” (“loas” are “Dieties of Haiti.”)

Alexander is a poet possessed by his visions. As he describes in the third long poem included here, “The Stratospheric Canticles”, his head is constantly a buzz with visionary activity:

a furnace of celebratory somniloquence
a furnace alive in unmeasurable fumarole
rattling the cartographical limits
speaking in paronomasia

He knows that “Yes / apprenticeship / means poetry scrawled in unremitting leper’s mosaic” (“Apprenticeship”).  He long ago turned himself over to recording this news from beyond. His attention is total and it is utterly focused.

I’ve looked
for only the tonalities that scorch
which bring to my lips wave after wave
of sensitivity by virulence(“Apprenticeship”)

Self-instructed, Alexander sought out the pathways he needed to express what interstellar loops are coursing through his head. It’s amazing that he found his footing.

I have heavenly proof
that there is vertical depth
that there is hallucinatory honour
that there is a space where spasms exist
in which comets dissolve
throughout orbits of nothingness
because
to see time warp
into hot collisional craters
one must embrace
all the glazed baronial shatterings
the plutonic larval ivies
the sleepless anaemia of ravens
the terrified footings of Newtonian
quadrupeds
the burdensome glance of the frothing
mockery student
the treatise on fire with
ash point & extension
the blazing size of an
abalone colon(“Bioluminal Self-Seeing”)

This is the kind of stuff one is only born into. Few, if any, readers are capable of fully following Alexander’s lead. But witnessing his record of the voyages he undertakes is an astounding testament to as yet unexplored possibilities of inner galactic consciousness. I’ve heard Alexander read in person several times and it is always a departure from the ordinary. Several new books have appeared in recent years, with more promised. His work is delightfully not finished. Having these earlier poems available in one collection provides a fantastic launching point for engagement with his ongoing project.

***

Patrick James Dunagan lives in San Francisco.  His books include GUSTONBOOK and Das Gedichtete.

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