Home > Words of Power > Ceremony: the Opening of the Mouth

Ceremony: the Opening of the Mouth

September 17, 2009

by Alex Cigale

May my heart be with me in the house of hearts
May it be given back to me among the living
May it toll and mete out a steady measure

Though daily I am seen rolling my past
like a ball of dung in front of my face
with pincer-like paws — the resurrection —

I am born anew in the rising sun
singing the random code of combinations
keys to the kingdom of everlasting life

Arise ye to the boats you wise boatmen
to the recitation of parts — masts sails oars
rudders — mechanisms of struggle for control

Commit to memory the many names
and the many gates of the doorkeepers
internal strictures and structures of soul

Great power resides in appellations
under ancient laws a slave had no name
and thus no function as a legal person

Forbidden to label compelled to invent —
physical body the shadow the full title —
panoply of names that death may not find me

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Alex Cigale’s poems have recently appeared in The Cafe, Colorado, Global City, Green Mountains and North American reviews, Drunken Boat, Hanging Loose, McSweeney’s, and Zoland Poetry. Other work can be found online at The Adirondack Review, Babel Fruit, Big Bridge, The Externalist [PDF],  nthposition, The Potomac Journal, Quarter After Eight, The Salt River Review, and Synaesthetic. His translations from the Russian can be found in Crossing Centuries: the New Generation in Russian Poetry and in The Manhattan and St. Ann’s reviews. He was born in Chernovtsy, Ukraine and lives in New York City.

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  1. September 21, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Beautiful and with power. “Rolling my past / like a ball of dung” is a sneak-punch-in-the-gut phrase, and the last two stanzas — the absence vs. “panoply” of names — a compelling juxtaposition.

  2. Barbara LaMorticella
    October 3, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Yes, yes! True words of power, of groping for resurrection, for a way to survive even the ball of dung of the past ( it’s possible to say all our pasts on this earth are balls of dung)–

    The background noises add unexpected immediacy and veracity to the recording– “may the house of hearts be given back to me among the living”; offering living proof of questing and remembering among the living– I, too, love the phrase “pincer-like claws”… A fine poem to open the “Words of Power” sequence with…

  1. April 14, 2011 at 2:07 pm
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