Songs and Stories of the Ghouls

Songs and Stories of the Ghouls

by Alice Notley

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Overview

<P>Left dead after our cultures were broken by triumphant enemies, our stories changed to suit others. We now change them again to suit ourselves. Songs and Stories of the Ghouls purports to give power to the dead—voices to the victims of genocide both ancient and contemporary—and presence to women. Medea did not kill her sons; Dido founds a city, over and over again, the city of the present author's poetry. In these poems the poet asserts that though her art comes from a tradition as broken as Afghanistan's statuary, there is always a culture to pass on to one's children, and one is always involved in doing so. We are the ghouls, the drinkers of the blood-sacs, and we insist that we are alive.</P>

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780819571533
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publication date: 01/01/2012
Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
File size: 299 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

<P>ALICE NOTLEY is the author of many collections of poems including Pulitzer Prize-finalist Mysteries of Small Houses, and Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems. She is the recipient of the Griffin Poetry Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry, the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the San Francisco Poetry Center Book Award.</P>

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

TESTAMENT: 2005

A RARE CARD

The skills you lack are designed to keep you down ...
Logical.

Someone is working right now to get ahead of you.

Someone is working right now to get ahead of me.

I have returned I am reasonably endowed with the skills of my trade

Those are no longer skills.

If some power came to me if some and not meager.
Then Don't hide. I won't. This is provocation that's how I'll find it.
Maybe I just do this

She swallowed the paper she needed;
It contained the Idea. She must have internalized it.
Words are drawn to one and soon take over.

No, really, where do they come from?

Mother of flies face of the beautiful corpse I have to start.
Write with a zigzag pencil and sand.

I'm inside the medicine all the time. This is my medicine.

Let the words come to the space

who do you talk to if no one reads it doesn't matter

When someone comes I'm always there.

Because I drew this very rare Tarot card, the Witch.

Out in the world they have stories that match the machine. The one they appear to be in

If you have walked outside the machine who are you?

I will enter their space later today & become enraged.
I will know exactly how much it has cost me to be a woman.

Here, in magic, it's other

any word to bring retrieval.

Mother of flies,
mother of ghouls, of survivors

Form has to be earned. this body

Some voices will probably talk to me


PERHAPS NOT FOR YOU

There is no audience because there is no audience.

So if you speak only to imagined beings what does "only" mean?

This building formerly a restaurant ...
this small room has been scraped of its paint and denuded of most former furniture: but also it has grown in size — can a building be enticed to grow? Because it is now as big as an airplane hangar.

Your beautiful face unbloodied beneath flies

Mother of flies your beauty to turn to. If only the audience could see how you are peaceful and the flies languid, glossy

But the audience will still bring its own feelings to these words

not seeing you not seeing what I am present for.

Who has left me here, I have.
Who are your familiars

Come into the enlarging page if you dare

Because he invented your shape I do mean structure because he invented you badly

everything is still hidden.

I was to impale myself on a quadrangular steel rod, with a blunt end with a blunt end which would make puncture more difficult and I tried — it's too hard. I can't Okay said the voice. I can't Okay then I was weeping But it's blood! I'm crying blood! I screamed

That's part of it said the voice.

I think this is hard.
(That's part of it)

How they prefer him must go.

I think this is difficult singing

Length and repetition create power If this voice can return like a body

It resembles something that's already been,
Changing.

Chestnuts broken autumnal fungi so you will remember. that it's fall outside falling. you'll go down

this is no story for the puling social classes No not at all it's for us my familiars say who let me weep blood on their ground.


LOGIC

It was a poem men took because it said ovary

didn't take my political poems they took the one that said ovary

Are you sure it was because it said ovary?

Yes, for them that's logical.

Destroy another city What else is war for? So

you'll go down each of you does. dies in whirlwind each of you who does, dies paying for the pain you experience Just that and nothing is established

Because I am a woman Cutting as many cords as tie you to me. this isn't anarchy it isn't anything you could name

You're still here without ties?

because they were logical.

Dance little asshole dance oh he gets elected, like a Calvinist He says, I have these guts

Men, I have these guts.
Having dedicated whole regions to the destruction you inspire, the logic will be to go on doing it doing it. Having proceeded by

the logic of your personal vaccuum you will perceive your continued lightlessness as an excuse to go on. having gone on as you have. And so one continues.

Lead the boy out of the building on fire his head twisted upwards all fucked

What else is there to know if one has gotten twisted up all fucked

he is a screaming fire

In the explanations of our lives' experience

they've left out this wild moment the long mirror on the right-hand wall of the corridor suddenly shattered I can't see myself anymore.

I repeat that I am not frightened and why not I don't know what my reactions are supposed to be.

"Please tell me something with which I 'm familiar."

isn't there another part of now


WITHIN THE NO-CHANGE COIN PURSE COIN PURSE

She has no defense for what's happening Cannot defend

herself against them, even when they want to defend her.

In my own arms I have no recourse.
Inside myself will I die

because you want to save my country who am I?

I will meet you in the autumn of my life — what will I wear?
A big black hat with roses or some lace —
why?
God told you to.
God told me to tell you.

God always knows what you should wear.

'It is not that women must obey me, I am enlightened.
It's that I don't really want to think about them or what they say,
and I don't have to.'

I saw my sister in a store carrying a small notebook she had decided to write her own praises no one else would

we were selecting tiny things, pretty vials for our pleasure/necessity/
unknown. I even stole some. There was a justification of this petty theft I only need petty things, after all.

I shouldn't need anything as large as power.

Ready her again READY?

this space, in this space. one destroys. with these petty stolen vials, I will destroy god

In this ritual,
respect for all religion is banished.

GO.
(leaves.
)
What does the Witch card look like?

She wears a blue down coat because she is rather deep.

So, I — I say — and in the parking lot near the first self or person, the self-named father of Reason, a cop, drove his motorcycle in threatening circles around her.

She stood perfectly still in her blue coat.

pieces of dusty logic. why say that I don't have to remember anymore what they are what it is.
I don't believe in the universe any more.


ANOTHER PART OF NOW

I find you where the body is. You are the body.
This body is everything.
But isn't me. Is it me?
I didn't kill it but have to dump it. I'm on the dumpingoff train.
Which stops at "Judas" and
"Through": same thing. I'll leave you off.
You could just be America.
Why would anybody keep America?
All the poor dumb fucks have nothing else to keep. You poor dumb fucks,
If my name is Judas I'm not hanging myself from a beautiful redbud tree.
Do you know what I've been through? Was it ever worse for you?
Or I could say, This corpse is the one you killed. And you'd gape at me.
If I say it to myself, what's that? that I killed it?
Maybe I killed the whole thing. I had a gun once I've had razors, poison, and knives.
I was always afraid I would kill. Americans can't get by without weapons.
And so, there's a body. Did I bend over you to help you?
But what if I violated you — vulnerable you —
because I could?
I have to go, someone says. Have to go fight for America.
But there's nowhere else,
he says There's nowhere else but here Go to another country,
still feels like our flesh. And kill some one.
Okay I will. I can do that.
Now the body bag's on this train.
I've got to get rid of it at Judas. Then I'll be Through.
Who's ever through? Even if you're dead you're not through.
I know because the dead talk to me. It's never over, they say.

I'm afraid you're the body. But I'm not really afraid. I don't Know what I'm supposed to be afraid of now.
If you're an American — if you're the body —
I'm not saying you died of fear.
Scared they were going to kill you.
Some of them were inside your system. Viruses and serial killers Terrorists breaking through the fragile borders of this chaos held to-
Gether by fear of being. I've had that too. But if I've lost you,
I'm lost. Losing it, finally old enough. You don't have a word in your throat,
Says a haunter voice. Not a pretty word. But I'm carrying the body of my Country. Or my own. My lovely body. Or him, again?
What a strange word That pronoun is. When I call myself she I just laugh.
I want you to know That I care about you; though I've said I don't care about anything now.
I see the pasty face of a white woman. But I see everyone else Somber inside me; I'm not sure I see the rich.
Can I Include them in the caring? I want you to know where my heart is.
But I don't know, like I don't know if you're dead.
The corpse doesn't have to be You. 'I've made it,' you say,
'I'm not dead.' Who has the power here?
Not her, this blood blossom woman. We've created a dead girl?
There was a mistake I made about who would take care of her. It turned out not To be you. You told me she was already free, had the vote.
What a jerk You were. She's still defunct;
who has the power,
really?
I know I don't, I'm just talking. Voice in Singer.
I have to sing my way out of here. I'm crowded with old corpse Furniture. Inside me is my country I take everywhere. Though You don't know me, I talk to you.
I'm supposed to be like all of you; but what am I
Like? That's what I can't remember. These times are for the select Diagrams of status blown off a dead tree. It's not 'our group'; it's all The star group. Doesn't relate to you. Except as you're used Can't I find new words?
But I saved all these words for You. I can't see what you ever knew, all that dust in the middle of our map. I Killed it, you killed it, Mother of Flies, a beauty. She looks peaceful. It would be Good to remember what someone's supposed To do. Before all you are the body. I haven't been able To speak without a corpse nearby for thirty years. What does birth ask of us,
My people? That's all we want to know. So talk to the question, can't it Answer you, tell you before you are stolen away?
The whole world supposes you powerful But power hasn't occurred to you. Her mouth was always crooked from Uncertainty. She talked like me but had a nicer voice. I'm not here to Make everyone else happy or uncomfortable. All Our cabals dissolve in distraction,
then take up again when you get lonely.
What's a cabal? you say, I never get all of what you're saying.

Do I have to get rid of Judas?
I'm afraid you won't have come this far with me,
Because you don't read.
That's fair enough; I'm asking for special attention. But This is the story of your dead body, lying under accusation of misuse of Power. Power. Don't you want its secrets? You sweetly say no. Don't you Know you were it? Someone used all your substance:
We're what they had. The gift to our leaders. We wouldn't Know how to conquer anything.
Not even for God. As for country,
That's us. I am your Judas,
because I'm telling. What you can't stand: Truth.
It always hurts you and you cry. You escape again and they win of Course, make your children soldiers, reduce your income,
calling that freedom
'I have so much freedom I can give it away. It's like air here.'
Okay, that's your poem. And you don't want the gold ornamenting the skull,
under flies. Someone already grabbed it anyway;
She came to us stripped, this body. Who could be your Foreign Victim. But You only care about your own,
it's always how they Mistreated one ...
I can't get rid of it Can't dump the body.
Decays in time. There's Never been any time here.
I got this old without feeling it. And See, I still talk like you. I must be the Mother of Flies,
Not Judas. Get back up and walk right out of here. They can Use you some more, you know even if your substance is Rotten. Live and be part of their power. See if they care.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Songs and Stories of the Ghouls"
by .
Copyright © 2011 Alice Notley.
Excerpted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

<P>Introducing Carthage<BR>The Book of Dead<BR>Testament: 2005<BR>A Rare Card<BR>Perhaps Not for You<BR>Logic<BR>Within the No-Change Coin Purse<BR>Another Part of Now<BR>Voice in Singer<BR>Beneath the Slab<BR>Glory<BR>La Disconnecting<BR>After Ligeia<BR>The World I'm Dead In<BR>The Arrow Luster<BR>The Color of Altars<BR>Everyday<BR>From Testament of the Ghouls<BR>Unidentified<BR>Sand<BR>Light Around Right Shoulder<BR>Woman in Front of Poster of Herself<BR>Millions of Us<BR>Along a Spectral Trail<BR>Not to Angel<BR>In Motel / Hangar / Mock House<BR>Moment<BR>City of Voice<BR>The Human Ghoul<BR>City of Ghostly Festivals</P>

What People are Saying About This

Etel Adnan

“With her own natural, raw violence, Alice Notley reminds us that wars do not only kill people and bring down their houses, but destroy also their writings, their cultures, their civilization. Here she creates an intricate form of writing, balances song against story, to assert her belief in the creative powers of poetry, one of which is the power to bring about the seeds of a new culture. And the basic element of this new culture, she seems to say, ought to be a culture of love, love, the element most missing in the world we live in, and the literature we read.”

From the Publisher

"In Songs and Stories of the Ghouls, Alice Notley continues her fearless excavation, subverting traditional readings of Dido and Medea as exiled queens and jilted lovers. The latest in an oeuvre which seeks the missing—or overlooked spirit, or soul—Songs and Stories of the Ghouls makes thrilling claims for the power of dispossession."—Claudia Keelan, author of Missing Her

"With her own natural, raw violence, Alice Notley reminds us that wars do not only kill people and bring down their houses, but destroy also their writings, their cultures, their civilization. Here she creates an intricate form of writing, balances song against story, to assert her belief in the creative powers of poetry, one of which is the power to bring about the seeds of a new culture. And the basic element of this new culture, she seems to say, ought to be a culture of love, love, the element most missing in the world we live in, and the literature we read."—Etel Adnan, author of Master of the Eclipse

Claudia Keelan

"In Songs and Stories of the Ghouls, Alice Notley continues her fearless excavation, subverting traditional readings of Dido and Medea as exiled queens and jilted lovers. The latest in an oeuvre which seeks the missing--or overlooked spirit, or soul--Songs and Stories of the Ghouls makes thrilling claims for the power of dispossession."
Claudia Keelan, author of Missing Her

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