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Healing and the Poetic Line Emmy Pérez María Sabina didn’t think about line-breaks or a written poem on the page during the veladas, her healing chants and ceremonies in Oaxaca: I am a woman who shouts I am a woman who whistles I am a woman who lightnings, says (93) Did she think about the effect of the ceremonial pause or was it a needed breath before the next language invention? If “I am a woman who lightnings” were a line of its own, it would allow more time for the extraordinary image to form in our minds. But right away we have “says” after a brief pause with the comma that continues to build a cumulative list, not privileging one line, one breath, one discovery over another. • U.S. American poets claim the poetic line can be a site for equality, for removal of the capitalist ideology embedded in our unexamined rhetoric. Many U.S. American poets want a language and poetic lines that examine and attempt to heal social class injustices. U.S. American poets are slaves to their blogs, Facebook, computers, and poetry. Many American poets often give the impression that poetry [aesthetics] is the only subject of their poetry. I am guilty of that pleasure as well at times, read poems as poetics statements. Maybe we secretly want poetry manifestos to be statements on how to live life. But few will admit to this desire. The poet divided from the streets. Many joining bureaucracy, willingly. Pérez | 183 • We know that a poetic line is not a thesis, a contract, a treaty. I am under the impression that most readers of non-literary prose in the U.S. believe more firmly in the solid U.S. American handshake. In Navajo country, the gentle handshake, skin touching skin, is the most genuine greeting I’ve ever experienced . None of these New York, European-inspired greeting kisses that can become obligatory expectations. And none of the U.S. American confidence and masculinity in business handshakes that suggest, We promise to respect our treaty. I will look you in the eye and share my confidence with you to build trust. • Lawmakers examine concrete and abstract words and phrases for openings that will allow them to better serve the interests of their clients. Line as justice; line as ambiguity; line as manipulation. • I am trying to remember my love Of the poetic line, of poetic breaks And the border patrol Van hasn’t moved in an hour On the new “levee” at the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse World Birding Center where la migra Looks across and down into México U.S. side a concrete wall “levee” disguised with dirt Dirt piled up to form a mountain The Mexican side A sheer 18 foot white concrete wall Who’s patrolling, who’s crossing The line The river’s invisible line—by eye?— Water momentarily Bravo then Grande Then Bravo. Always Río or Rio. 184 | Pérez • I can’t build poems faster Than the wall’s construction We can’t write poems to halt The wall’s construction • The poetic line of social justice will not be improved until more poets get up from their computers. Poetic line as picket line. Poetic line as hands without weapons. Hands. Want to kiss the hands of our lover before moving elsewhere on the body. Poets as lovers, not only with each other. • The line is the beloved. Again and again and again. Your prose is poetry. Your ends of sentences do not trail off; you fight for them, that space for additional meaning, that breath dying and not wanting to end. Your ends of sentences expand my mind, querid@, create openings instead of endings. When can I see you to kiss you or meet you, again, in person and on the page? • “(Tal vez / tuve que olvidar cómo)” — Dolores Dorantes (6) “(May be / I had to forget how)” May be I had to forget how to write an essay, how to craft a poetic line, how to not use a pen to write it, how to speak love and desire while riding a bike on a paved road through the monte near the Rio Grande-Bravo. May be I had to forget how to express bitterness, how to stop pointing to the bad qualities in humans in preparation for them hurting me someday. May be I had to forget how to address the new concrete border wall...


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