Il Aqua

Essence. A makeshift mirror of itself. A stretch at best beset to boot. A foot,
a head, itself. A sense and sentence, seamlessly seemly. An echo allways, onword
runnur and river sliver etchling eschered and eggy again, a humpbackagain
clown and pregnant ass with hunchbacked crown. Gaudy doggod agog in
sellfreefelective gag, a ha aha. Aching amongrel ken; a housialeighter for
knowing wit now in tow, gnoing noun owing ghostly gown n hostly down
to what ex actly, stages bound to round abound. Murmur murder mummur,
mother mirror father feerer freer for being farther along all along, lone but
honing tward somethink eerily simylar toots’elf innanother diemention. Esprit
estrit sick n strangaled by cunseeld mobiousia tit lhacking tation tat furst
yet farthere fortit. Man air a mirror of his further, the mireore ur mirari and
skyflex cleft astarry, sum halfbegotten sun of a stoary nearly done, fathered
by post and pun and tittle deeds wondone asund, a sunspun spire and crown
lyare leyne dun dheue brest n drunk on old rivers strhiving air fhire yet keupt
tat baee bye cold innert coulp detatched fro mitself bi juste a hare arriven
from wherr indheed. Eis t for slavory lips slackmawed and fallgagged, an mt
tubyorknotuby true itself and ropy hinnterscope that can be travaled but nair
unvailed without sundoing itself asund. A bend unending. A sleeping mined
ali’ve and the ghost of a mind awake. A solem plaster spell injuncted into the
gusty gist of a occidental shell. A band of bugelnoz bungles jest ahedah an aptr
ganga cooks crooking you afore. The manus manes defamed in nightpane pire
aghast in the moonlight. A ruahral speisees of spirazship strung from spiers
spun from spirastalk lusind by leukwarm waters aflame. Ghosti hostis to the
guessed inside.

Questions and Answers

As a published writer, what are your tips or words of motivation for the aspiring poet?

Never give up. Write first and foremost for yourself, for it is the only way to find your voice, external poetic validation being simply sauce, not the Oort bone that upwrites you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the poets you love; cold calls bring back tender replies more often than you think. Be kind and generous to fellow writers. Embrace constraint, not as leash but as Möbius rein; not as chain but as umbilical tether to the stars. Taking on a new constraint can unwittingly shed you of the seething undertow of hidden, subconscious constraints that otherwise bind you manyway. Counterintuitively, constraint can be freeing, allowing you to discover modes of poiesis that you never would have fumbled upon motherwise. When you hit a wall, flail. When you can’t think of something to do, do anything instead. Explode yourself and sift through the shrapnel to find the gemstones amidst the ruins later. Read and write like your life deepended on it.

Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g. books, films, art, websites, etc.)?

I find the online etymological dictionary, as well as the online multilingual dictionary,, to be invaluable resources for my creative process, intimately touched as it is by the hidden histories and fractal wormholes of language. There lurk vital graveyards of poetry behind these words we think static and indivisible, already there, buried, incipient, waiting to be excavated, and its up to you to Frankenstein them into being.

How did your writing process unfold around this poem? How did you write, edit, and refine it?

I began by researching the etymological histories behind words weighty with meaning and laden with cultural, mythic, philosophical and historical gravitas; words that often serve as suitcases for concepts too profound to pin down and too mysterious to meter. Armed with lexicons made up of words nexused with one another through an underground system of etymontological roots, I then set about crafting a narrative, in orbit about these contesselated lexiplexes, that aimed to speak to the autopoietic nature of selfhood, the autontogenic hearthbeat of essence, and the undulant fundament of truth, time and tradition, inserting hidden etymological gemstones as cyborg limbs for terms in order to make words play with themselves.

What did you find particularly challenging in writing this poem?

My greatest challenge in writing this poem was to craft an intelligible and coherent narrative while still having pun with the groups of etymologically related words I chose to have serve as the poem’s  underment, in keeping it moving forward in a straight line while being spurred and spurned by the whiplash of its cyclical contraction and expansion through phrasetime and phasespace, and in letting meaning and conmanotation sunburst ever so briefly before reigning them back in so as to move narrative time forward.

What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?

For me, poetry is inherently experimental; skunkworks for punclerks. It is not just about crafting beautiful art, but beautiful thinking as well. Language is more to me than a convenient conduit for thought; it is thought, and as such serves as a crucial part of the ontic fundament underlying many of the things we do through thought; it shapes culture and withinforms the shapes of our ontologies, our epistemologies, our multifarious metaphysics, and to a greater extent than I think we realize, our physics as well, or at least the ways in which they are intelligible, and as such manipulabile, to us. Language parametrizes and perimeterizes the possible. In many ways I consider poets to be as intrepid a band of causemonauts as the first settlers of yesteryear, the research scientists of today and the worldsmiths of tomorrow. Thus, I found inspiration and motivation in writing this poem from taking the historical building blocks behind words and tinkering with them until something interesting became together. In crafting a narrative around the selfusurpant nature of selfhood, language, truth and history, made up of strings of words that worm and warp their selfsimular sibling sentences in spoutwrite metaflection sublim and sublime, my motivation was to make form service content, and verse viscera, to serve as a Möbiusia mirror mirmage of it’self.

This poem “Il Aqua” originally appeared in Lost and Found Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 236 (2018): 70.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.