from Disobedience
by Alice Notley

I dream I'm a detective a man
trying to catch a woman
I'm in a barroom with small reflector-mirrors
high in each corner.
She's in the locked back room.
I pretend to be drunk

to blend in until she comes out?
into this room of the self full
of others and mirrors.

She is the soul.

Always trying to find
that back room that being
is there only such a thing as brute form wherewith,
a cheap Chandleresque detection device
a man with a coat and a gun
a room with mirrors because
I can't leave your company, your approval.

I like the mirrors, their silver
small hints of the total reflectiveness,
the litup soul/self I have been
from time to time I can't remember.

Down at the real corner car, no one wants
to be here in August.
                     Six men playing cards
and drinking red wine. I stare at thin
hair dyed red
of wizened woman paying
for glass of white bordeaux
she didn't drink it all, she smiles
someone in the habit of trying to be interesting
a former tart, it's horrible that I think like that.

Hypnotize self into a fantasy world
a world of caves. (Yes, I do this, I can.)
Sit down before a rock wall with writing on it.
Let whatever   the E's are sharp when I touch them.
That common letter. it's surface everywhere

A shadowy man in a gun-coat has come to find me.
Why do I like these caves so much?
He seems to be asking the question.
Because evidence left in them
is our subject of detection. Is what's lost
to the presumably awakened world

I'm, we're, the result or flower of suppression.
Much of one is suppressed
towards being another kind of one
other colors, petal arrangements, scents
you can only have one scent
I want to know what I've forgotten
for 50,000 years. Think of those ridiculous déesses
so-called Venuses, in French museums.
What do I know. It's so fatiguing to hate you men.
Define soul: I am soul

Look on the wall: Elelse...

I could say that the detective
becomes even more interesting older
wittier drunk a veritable piece
of characterization for you
isn't it marvelous he reads a lot
an amateur critic/philosopher
belongs to a Derridean study group (siècle drags on.)

Become more lost in caves...
the caves expand, enclosure dissolves
I want to go to heaven this second
I know I can't stay I've been there before
I float alive, larger than history.

Better than history

Pub. May 1998