Jacob Russell, who for me is a model of both what the artist and the activist should be, this friend of mine whose hands and lips have become life giving, loamy mulch borne of compost, making inhuman adventures and other becoming that can be scarcely understood– one of these days I’ll live up to that model of my gray, bearded friend, to this strange vital energy and affect, in more than writing and will enact what he somehow manages to live all the way down to the fiber of “insignificant” acts such as his cooking and gardening like a strange sort of animated fractal –is reminded of a poem he wrote in response to my recent post on the possibility of an “inhuman” or maybe better yet, “a-human”, or perhaps “poly-actant” ethics and politics I’m very gropingly trying to think and articulate (Lingis– nods to Harman –is going to be crucial here). At any rate, a toast to my inhuman Philadelphia virtual mentor from afar. Here’s the poem (where the poem, coming from poeisis, is among the only artforms that ever existed and is, sadly and ominously, perhaps a dying praxis: This does not bode well for the future of collective existence):

We cannot begin without taking leave
He said when he turned us away
Fire leapt from his tongue

Instead, we gathered the names, leaving the animals
Speechless in the forest brakes, the river’s course.
Only now do we understand the nature of our loss

We cannot begin without taking leave
They were more than we could bear, these words.
They grew fruitful and multiplied

We hung them on every bough.
There were not enough trees to hold them.
They fell to the earth like leaves

We cannot begin without taking leave
Our lips are dry with trying
Our fingers sign what we cannot say

How can we leave
What was never ours to begin with?
How can we ever return what we found
in their burning, silent eyes?

Like Nothing in the World

The world is filled with gods
They are like nothing else in the world
This is how you know they are gods

The gods did not make the world
The gods were made by the world
They are more helpless then they have ever been

I asked them if they were once
Like the gods of our storied past
But they did not answer

Their tongues were made of stone
And their teeth of wool
They neither sing nor speak

I found them one day searching
For change, but my pockets were empty
Everything now must remain as it was

Only the world changes
As stars withdraw to the beginning of time
As we found ourselves at the edge of the forest

Following the animals over the plains
Listening to their lies, their endless
Stories of gods who will not let them be

And here’s the link.

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