Forrest Gander reads and discusses Will Alexander's "The Sri Lankan Loxodrome"
from The Sri Lankan Loxodrome
in this fundamental sense I am Mahayana & of Africa both Sri Lankan & non-Sri Lankan in that I am of a newly elected “Radial” width comprehending my projection of rays like faceless chromium at twilight an absence like “intergalactic hydrogen” perhaps a complex of gravitons & lightning I learned to speak when my solar journal first commenced then I was magnetized at the age of 12 to a psychic form of fatherhood & now I sail never eating for days consumed by scalar neutrinos I’ve been reported as expired at Jaffna & have been burned in effigy for interminable wanderings for the crime of emitting vertigo by movement for inflicting the human spirit with a parallel genetic engenderment comparable to a sun which erupts from the voice of the afterlife a wanderer in a zone of fluctuating kelvins breathing unknown dice within my schisms **** perhaps for me a Nubian catacomb in the nameless a concealed adventure in the tourmaline a powerful spectra of intangible chondrites maybe as darkened transition I’ll speak an aqua-Chinese or as an Afro-Gujarati I’ll have a voice in Batticaloa alive in Madagascar as a combusted lemur sage I develop moment after moment with intensity as aloofness allowing each destroyed symmetry each ulterior symbology to ignite its hazeless unicorns to unbury spells amidst “black widow pulsars” wafting between equilibria & equilibria aleatoric & unblemished like a moonless endurance within a “grazing occultation” & each fire that I build vanishes each clause of interregnums detractable amidst the rural dominations of “Istar Terra” & the “anomaly over Beta Regio” like a brimstone fire at the source of the instantaneous
“The Sri Lankan Loxodrome” Will Alexander from The Sri Lankan Loxodrome. New Directions, 2009.
Reprinted by permission of the author.
Will Alexander’s “The Sri Lankan Loxodrome” imagines the journey of a Sri Lankan sailor across the Indian Ocean. The sailor, making contact with various transplanted African communities, is an immigrant from restrictive constructions of nationality and certainty. For him, migration is a mode and means of identification with others, and so, of self-discovery. At the same time, Alexander’s poem is about migration at a cellular level—the migration of cancer cells through a body. And it was written as the author struggled to survive his own life-threatening illness.
Evaporation: a Border History
Paisanos they call roadrunners, brothers of the land. A dozen Mexican corpses maroon under desert sun. In cottonwoods by the river, zone-tailed hawks squeal. Visible only from the air, the craquelure of an abandoned runway overlies toxic waste and unexploded munitions. Bordered by purple and yellow bloomstalks, lechuguilla. Volcanic chimneys up-thrust from barren flats. Agleam in a basalt outcrop, fist-size feldspar crystals. The old raiding trails from Comanchería converge in a path packed by hoofprints. Alarming ki-dear ki-dear of a Cassin’s kingbird on the barbed fence. 150 miles surveiled by a white aerostat shaped like a whale. Between those peaks sits Panther Laccolith. Both vaqueros staked-out naked, left screaming on a live ant hill. Female katydid waving her foreleg tympanum at the stridulating males. The fine- grained intrusion that veined the mountain also silled Paint Gap Hill. His horse quivers in agony, pinned to the ground by a lance. Hovering over the field, a flock of crested flycatchers. The border patrol dog lifts its leg at the tire of the Skywagon. Coachwhip fences parallel the dirt way. Chihuahua Trail following Alameda Creek. They call it horse-crippler cactus. Vietnam-era seismic probes buried across private lands. Lava rock rims the sides. Give it a break, mockingbird. El Despoblado. Giant yucca and bunch grass. And what ventures into the afternoon heat? Only Pharoah ants. Only the insulated darkling beetle. On either side of the pavement, magnetic sensors record movement and direction. Evening cicadas eclipse tree crickets. A thousand head of cattle driven below the trachyte hoodoos. It nibbles a prickly pear. Cottontail at dusk. Human contraband at dusk. Famous for their dwarf fauna, these fossil beds. Depositions of carnage, catches of light. The legacy mission: contraband and
Forrest Gander (1956- ) was born in Barstow, California, and later attended the College of William & Mary and San Francisco State University. He is the author of over a dozen books, including collections of poetry and essays, several books of translations, and two edited anthologies. His many honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Library of Congress. He is currently the Adele Kellenberg Seaver Professor of Literary Arts and Comparative Literature at Brown University. Photo credit: Miriam Berkley.
Will Alexander (1948- ) was born in Los Angeles, California and received his BA in English and Creative Writing from University of California at Los Angeles. He is the author of nine books, which include poems as well as novels, essays, and plays. He has served residencies at the University of California, San Diego, Hofstra University, and New College and taught at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Photo credit: Mathew Timmons