Original poem reprinted online here: "How to Make Love in the Garden of Good and Evil" by Lo Kwa Mei-en
Originally read: September 17, 2013
More information about the Poet: Lo Kwa Mei-en
"To adaptations of the broken / heart" was the first line to pop out from reading this because the line doesn't come off cliche in the context of the poem. Rather the line makes more logical sense since the beginning of the poem is a reinterpretation of the Adam and Eve (more focused on Eve) story.
"Your nimbus is pouring. Your halo shows off from under my dress, / bird of light. Unwit cage." Note the situational play especially with the last two statements in which the cage relates back to where the you's halo appears. This is just stating there's something tongue and cheek going on here, "In a beginning there was a fruit & a noose / -shaped animal making a woman a woman. One man. I mean anima." The biblical allusion with "In a beginning" sets up a definition of both man (anima - the subconscious inner "feminine," and the woman as woman (external).
But the line drops and takes away the anima from man, "gone: eureka, my skin is half amphibious wick, total flaming sword / & bared as the day he was born." Within this line is emotion and such unique imagery to describe the loss of the secret feminine. I think this point of view is from Eve and what comes to the surface is a something that can be burned and something on fire. And the next line the poem goes risky with a cliche, "Now one man's trash is another's / pleasure & it pleases the first man, too." Here the saying of "one man's trash is another man's treasure is taken as though trash is acceptable to the "first man" since the viewpoint is of treasure. The speaker is sly with the word play.
The line break here "The angel reeks like a cellar / put to good use" the subduing of the angel set as commentary which expands with the entrance of the devil, "the devil climbs the stairs: the angel his hot blade / all over the dominant hand of oh god, pain, deliverer & profit, old / master hung on the bevel-licked starboard wall." Okay, I'm taking this in a more perverse way than I probably should and I think it's due to the shift in pace where I see innuendo like, "hot blade /all over the dominant hand" and "oh, god, pain, deliverer & profit" Note that the angel is a "he" but the devil is unknown, also who is the one who just listing obscenities -- the devil or the angel?
But then there's the introduction of the "trinity" "You, ill logic in triplet, meet like three flit wings on the back / of a terrible bird. Your dactyl reeling." Note the poem is repeating itself and is introducing the third as a part of "a bird" (terrible or of light) and the pun of dactyl (reference to avian or a foot) Then the line I referenced in the beginning, "To adaptations of the broken / heart." It's the pun not the meaning that is built up here. Just like the other "cliche" that changes the trajectory of this poem. This "cliche" is then further defined by "As in: This can't be the first time / you've done this before, honey, & no one will mean for a horseman / riding hard for my teeth," The tone shifts to more of a personal yet cynical tone, and the hyperbole of the reference to the "horseman" kind of deflects the core of the "broken heart" (literal and physical) because the reference is overblown, but also the language facilitates the shift through the difficulty.
But note who is in control here, "On each, a woman of war / bathing." meanwhile, "Your body is choosing sides."
This idea isn't too hounded upon as the speaker's voice becomes stronger, it does something audacious, "In the beginning. There. I said let there be one beast / & it flew towards me as a holy bomb. & Adam was his own apple & / I unholy total babe of sweated light," based on the speed of the lines, there's a sense of anger here in which the speaker's voice wants to be audacious, wants to change the setting of it all, "I dream weapons / grow on trees. I waked quivered in a stranger's mouth & oh you slip / back down the stairs." With these lines there's probably a hundred interpretations of meanings, but what sticks out for me is how this feels like a summary of emotions from the beginning to this point -- the trifecta of anger, lust, and escape.
"I am for falling, lit bird. The bees are with passion & I / use a word I'd never know. The lilies of the vale are guilty, guilty." Here the repetition like with "woman" stands out to me with me because of the definition going back to "lit" (the pun of light and literature) and the play with bird and bees where the play of language dilutes the condemning.