STONE AND FLESH(1)

JYOTI ARVEY
50.4423 N 30.5188 E
From  Looking for Lenin,  Neils Ackermann and Sébastien Gobert (FUEL Publishing, 2017). Photograph by Niels Ackermann, taken in Slovyansk, Ukraine, on September 15, 2015.

From Looking for Lenin, Neils Ackermann and Sébastien Gobert (FUEL Publishing, 2017). Photograph by Niels Ackermann, taken in Slovyansk, Ukraine, on September 15, 2015.

 

Heed my words and you may discover the seams and sutures in yourself.

– Susan Stryker (2)

Today not a single Lenin statue remains standing in Ukraine. There has been no consistency in their handling: they have been variously toppled and left unclaimed; stored away by the authorities; broken up or tampered with beyond recognition; or repossessed by hopeful locals.

– Myroslava Hartmond (3)

t   h   e   s   e        a   r   e        t   h   e        s   o   u   n   d   s        o   f        s   t   o   n   e        &        f   l   e   s   h
 

“He was here with us to play, re-define
what kind of mess we [were] going through.
, because no one was possible. I
keep facing time;
to go and build a decent past?
hidden, discovered”

To bury your face in the ground as if it were your lover
To fly as you eat dirt
To never let go of what you clutch in your hand
To take up all that space
To not get back up when you fall

s   c   a   t   t   e   r   e   d           ,            stone and                     wood, your

eyes rest,                                                                     s t i l l , tugging at your suit

                  pining        for movement.      Is

                  no one           there? I am trying to become an expert          , &

you                  tell   me 

resist mastery. (4)

                                                                                                                                        So
                                                                      it is

                                                           impossible to separate [from you]. T  h  e  b  o  d  y

             is vaster than                                            pictures                                            and

p a r t s                         ,                        alive                        ,

              lips                                      in    the emptiness, say: You and I are also

fictions, and we live in this collective dream. (5)

                              Now                                           become                     ,
                                                        the                                   poet,        my
               house my friend my world my tree my son. I try      to find
limits, words                                               &
                                               your cold flesh suggests I am only         
                                                                                                                                     the edge.

 

I can barely make out your words:
No illumination, but feeling around in the dark. I'm talking about discovering the
surface of an interiority with your skin.
(6)
Is this the answer? I ask, eyes closed and crawling on the damp soil next to you. We
have no other solution than to lick at being. Suck it, as the sole mode of knowledge and
apprehension.
(7) My arm hits your stone body as I open my mouth and put my tongue
to the dirt.

 

VLADIMIR ILYICH LENIN DIED IN 1924.
LENINISM WAS BORN BEFORE THE FLESHY LIVING MAN DIED, & LENIN’S BODY
AFTER DEATH BECAME A PIECE OF THE BODY OF LENINISM, A
QUASI[BI]OLOGICAL BODY.

I am another place & the emptiness in your flesh. Legitimate, I age like wine. My death dropped me flat as a square with no peace, nor power, just a crescent and a crown. Are my eyelashes fake? My face makes a complete impression of a sleeping person, rather than a corpse, (8) but I am not resting. I can’t decompose like you will, you: just another anonymous "experimental" body. (9) Flesh is a murky place. The Lab that creates yours as a passable image & form may be remote, but that is neither here nor there. Preservation is also destruction. Rarely are both accounted for. Canonized & banished, (10) I am Lenin. Am I real? you wonder. How much of me is real? What does it mean to be real? As my first embalmer once responded, I will allow myself not to answer this question. (11)



THE PRESERVED BODY WAS TRANSPORTED TO THE SIBERIAN CITY OF TYUMEN TO PROTECT IT FROM NAZI TROOPS DURING WORLD WAR II.
THE JOINTS IN LENIN'S BODY ARE STILL FLEXIBLE.
THE PERFORMANCE NEVER CEASES.

 

I  w  a  n  t  t  o  k  n  o  w  w  h  a  t  i  t  w  o  u  l  d  l  o o k l i k e t o p r e s e r v e u p h e a v a l 

The time                                                           is             already over
          I call     and I                                   worry about
                                                                                                                                    all of                                      
our                     inevitable                                                          [horrors]
violations,
                     worse?      I only say
                                           that the      brutal            
                                                 desire distinctive       of       
                                                                                                                                            being both [is]
                                                                                                         .   .   .            In other words, there is
                                                                                                                                                    transformative
                                                                                                                  perpetual vanishing;
                                                                                                                                                    flesh,
genitals,                                                                                                                                                 flesh
                                                                                                            a cinematic

                                                                                          partial, incomplete,
                                                                       living                          e   n   t   r   a   n   c   e

My God, they cut it all in pieces. To be honest, I don’t really understand what is happening .

I   h a v e   t h e   h e a d   o f   e v i l   i n   m y   g a r d e n .    I   d o n ’ t   w a n t   t o   
                                                                                  t a l k    a b o u t   i t    –    d o n ’ t   b o t h e r   m e .

My God, they cut it all in pieces.

“Now I [am] no longer, I have no                                             
landscape. [It’s] not important. [I am] of the past,                       
with the present and anxious. Imagine:
to be honest,
an old risk. It’s the strong nature
wild plants and vines all over
the monuments here in my garden. The people can
bathe [themselves] like history.
To me , I [am] the statue outdoors.”

How is it to look at yourself? To have a child sit on your head? To become her seat, her canvas? You are remade in her image – covered in red paint and bird shit,
dirty                and                joyful.

You are surrounded by wildflowers. They grow into you and your stillness.
You hear my thoughts. I wonder what it is like to
                                                           be     destroyed     remade     melted     painted
                                held    
tucked away     toppled     protected     left alone     all at once.
                                                                                           Is                     t h i s   existence?  
Are      you      over    it?                     P e o p l e                  still     want  so       much
                                                                                                                                    from    you & yet:

We owe each other the indeterminate. We owe each other everything. (13)




 

CURTAIN CALL





( I t ’ s   t r u e  .  W e   w i l l   s i m p l y   b e  p e o p l e  ,  a l l   o f  u s  ,  a s  [ i f ]  i t   w a s   o n l y   t h e   b e g i n n i n g .   I ’ l l   b e   w a i t i n g   f o r   t h e s e   b e a u t i f u l   e v e n i n g s   ,  d i s t a n t   &   u n f a m i l i a r   ,  w h e n   t h e   f u t u r e   s t o p s   s t a n d i n g   i n   i t s   p r o p e r   p l a c e .  )


JYOTI ARVEY is a writer, artist and bookseller based in San Francisco, CA. Her work has been published in The New Engagement, Chronogram, theEEEL, and the Hummingbird Magazine of the Short Poem, among others.
 
  1. Paul B. (Beatriz) Preciado, Pornotopia: An Essay on Playboy's Architecture and Biopolitics (Zone Books: New York, 2014), 24.  ↩

  2. Susan Stryker, "My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage," What Is Gender Nihilism? A Reader, 87-113 (Contagion Press, 2017). Originally published in GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 1994.  ↩

  3. Niels Ackermann and Sébastien Gobert, Looking for Lenin (FUEL Publishing: London, 2017), 13.  ↩

  4. Jack (Judith) Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure (Duke University Press Books: Durham, 2011), 11.  ↩

  5. Preciado, Pornotopia, 7.  ↩

  6. Paul B. Preciado, Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era (The Feminist Press at CUNY: New York, 2013), 154.  ↩

  7. Ibid., 142  ↩

  8. Alexei Yurchak, Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (Princeton University Press: Princeton, 2005), 138.  ↩

  9. Ibid., 142.  ↩

  10. Ibid., 122.  ↩

  11. Ibid., 127.  ↩

  12. Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study (Minor Compositions: New York, 2013), 20.  ↩

  13. Ibid., 20.  ↩

  14. Svetlana Alexievich, Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets (Random House: New York, 2017), 11.  ↩