japonisme: invent the sacred dance

10 November 2011

invent the sacred dance


Music is most sovereign because more than anything
else, rhythm and harmony find their way to the inmost
soul and take strongest hold upon it, bringing with
them and imparting grace.
—Plato, The Republic

The cranes are flying ...

And here it comes: around the world,
In Chicago, Petersburg, Tokyo, the dancers
Hit the floor running (the communal dancefloor

Here, there, at intervals, sometimes paved,
Sometimes rotted linoleum awash in beer,
Sometimes a field across which the dancers streak

Like violets across grass, sometimes packed dirt
In a township of corrugated metal roofs)
And what was once prescribed ritual, the profuse

Strains of
premeditated art,
is now
The desperately new,
where to the
Yelps and spasms of
police sirens outside

The club, a spasmodic feedback ululates
The death and cremation of history,
Until a boy whose hair is purple spikes,

And a girl wearing a skull
That wants to say I’m cool but I’m in pain,
Get up and dance together, sort of, age thirteen.

they’ll mime
Of shootouts,
of tortured ones
in basements,
Of cold
before sex

Between enemies, the jubilance of the criminal.
The girl tosses her head and dances
The shoplifter’s meanness and self-betrayal

For a pair of stockings, a scarf, a perfume,
The boy dances stealing the truck,
Shooting his father.

The point is to become a flying viper,
A diving vulva, the great point
Is experiment, like pollen flinging itself

Into far other habitats, or seed
That travels a migrant bird’s gut
To be shit overseas.

The creatures gamble on the whirl of life
And every adolescent body hot
Enough to sweat it out on the dance floor

Is a laboratory:
maybe this
these boots,
These jeans,
these earrings,
maybe if I flip
My hair and
my pelvis

Exactly synched to the band’s wildfire noise
That imitates history’s catastrophe
Nuke for nuke, maybe I’ll survive,

Maybe we’ll all survive. . . .

At the intersection of poverty and plague
The planet's children—brave, uncontrollable, juiced
Out of their gourds—invent the sacred dance.

Alicia Ostriker

“Saturday Night” from
The Little Space: Poems Selected and New, 1968-1998.
Copyright © 1998 by Alicia Ostriker.
All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, upress.pitt.edu.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for this lovely collection of images words and ideas on the theme of sacred dance (one of my favorite things in this world.) "rhythm and harmony find their way to the inmost
soul and take strongest hold upon it" beautiful.

19 December, 2011 19:47  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thanks back to you for such kind words.

19 December, 2011 20:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, your blog is lovely. You wouldn't happen to know which ballet the Bakst design comes from would you? Thanks.

24 June, 2012 03:31  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thanks. no, sorry, i don't.

24 June, 2012 07:20  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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