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I’ve been spending the last month at an arts residency at Kunstnarhuset Messen, located in the village of Ålvik, Norway. I knew that I wanted to let the long daylight infiltrate my body, but I wasn’t sure what it would burn free in me. In the weeks leading up to my departure from Philadelphia, I was filled with a strong premonition that I would not return from this trip. I felt a strong urge to write a will, to put my affairs in order. I sat with these feelings for a time and decided that they were not in fact some glimpse of my actual death, but a sense that I was going to be radically changed while here. And I understand that now to in fact be the case.

When I arrived, I had hoped to understand distance, displacement, and transformation better by moving along the mouth of the fjord, speaking with the residents, and observing how climate change was affecting this nordic village.

Instead, I found a deep rooted sense of peace within my spirit. It took a few weeks for it to fully accomplish itself within me. It fell into me slowly, gradually. Simply. Just like the long summer daylight.

I hiked for hours at a time, experiencing intense solitude and marveling at how such long days could create such a sense of subtlety in me. I found myself radically sensitized to the minor changes in the way aspen leaves caught the wind or how clouds crawled across the sky.

I found myself thinking a lot about my dear deceased friend. She’s been gone for nearly a year now, and I can’t express how radically my entire psychology was changed by her death. We had known each other since we were fourteen years old. She walked with me through some of the hardest times in my life. She was, quite simply and without exaggeration, the most kind and good person I knew. Death glosses many things, but it doesn’t gloss this beautiful truth. She was simply good.

For a long time after she died, I struggled with the sense that I was in the wrong universe. I understand that this was a grief response–that it was easier for my mind to believe that I had slipped into an alternate reality rather than accept the sad fact of her death. There are many aspects about my life the last year that seemed to confirm this to me–that I was askew. I kept trying to make this askewness home. It wasn’t right.

Now, though, while living in this far northern village, surrounded by kind strangers but ultimately alone, I felt the truth of her death slip into me. She is gone. I think I finally cried the last salty tears in my body over this fact. And they evaporated into the sky. Like clouds.

While I’ve been here, I’ve been doing some movement–a form of a salp’uri. It’s an ancient dance form, which I used to insist on calling a dance of healing. It is more commonly understood as an exorcism dance. I now think it’s both.

The sad truth is that I have been exorcising my friend’s death from me–by bringing it into the coal of my body, by bringing down the sun. This stark, neutral, lasting light has burned away so many things. And it has revealed a basic truth. That light radically continues. As must we.

I find myself filled by equanimity. I have discovered a sense of balance by standing on milky glacial waves, falling into aspen green shine, and having the blank sun burn my eyelids into an intense blue swarm. I saw electricity in the waves and felt my body turn to air. I’ve left behind no shadow, and what I used to be doesn’t care.

An excerpt from what I’ve been developing in response to all these things.

 

So the news has blown up all over the internet since yesterday that Kim Jong Il (KJI) has passed away.

As many of you know, I have a longstanding fascination with KJI. As a public figure shrouded in such propaganda he was, and will remain, beyond any stable understanding. So, I’ve spent the day thinking of how best to respond to the news of his death. I’m not a policy pundit, and I can’t claim to have any insight into the man or what can/should happen in Korea now. I’m a spectator from a different shore, but I’m pained and concerned.

The only thing I could think to do was share this poem I wrote about 4 years ago about him. It’s from my first book, That Gorgeous Feeling. Unfortunately, I’m not able to get the formatting quite right. I’m just not savvy enough. So, this piece appears mostly left justified.

For all those who have been cut apart, split, cast away, and somehow survived the same forces that pushed even this man into being.

_________________________________________

Kim Jong Il: A Reader

He is the great teacher who teaches them what the true life is, a father who teaches them with the greatest political integrity and a tender-hearted benefactor who brings their worthwhile life into full bloom.

—from an official North Korean release

We don’t want our own native dogs to die out.
We must make sure that Pungsan and Jindo dogs prosper and propagate. 

if it dies then bring it over
bring it over before it dies

this is my piano
I have studied it for years

*

“perfectly rational”

“isolated but not uninformed”

heralded by a bright star and double rainbows
a crown prince of sorts in the world’s most isolated state

*

“we have not been able to give them the kind of reassurance”

a crippling famine.
fruit; a nut.
a young radish.
come to fruition.

*

You may have received letters from your relatives living here about the food shortage.
The situation is not as bad as it may appear. 

this and that. between you and me; between both sides.
make a fire ((in the stove))
smoke. lifelong. one’s lifework.

necessary articles; necessaries. necessities.
daily necessaries; the necessities of life.
naturally.
driven by. a requirement.
be indescribable. be [beyond] description.
be [unspeakable].

avert people’s eyes. avoid [keep away] from bad company.
do not touch me. dodge [duck]. from disaster.
avoid. flee from ((a war))

                                                                                suck on our fingers to kill the hunger pains

*

Supreme Commander
generalissimo
Taewonsu
Dear Leader

a member of the Central Committee
reported to have concentrated a great
deal of effort on the performing arts

good fortune in love; a lady’s man.

Madeline Albright
she allegedly held his hand

*

have ((something)) snatched away.
become. be [exhausted] impoverished. stained.

a. a limit. limits; bounds. “Human desire knows no limits.” as [so] far as. as far
[much, soon]. as much as one can. as much as possible.

b. one. a single. a [one] man. some; nearly. in the same house. the same.

c. big; large; great. a (main) street. the most. the very; in the middle of the night.

d. a bitter grudge. rancour; hatred. bear malice ((toward)). vent one’s grudge. an
unsatisfied desire.

regrettable. deplorable. a lasting regret; a matter of great regret.
a life full of regrets.

                                                                      no barriers in heart

one place. the same place. one mind. one accord.

our wisdom. our will. our strength.

*

Iran, Iraq and North Korea
a new bond of brotherhood
in the mouth of the American president

ardent(ly)
passionate(ly)
a passionate love
be eager [anxious] for
(after, to do); long for

“we long [are eager] for peace”

*

“his brinksmanship does work”

former years.
the years gone by.
a large eyed person.
of what was said and done.

(be) thin
(be) light; pale
light colored; faint

                                                             I am an object of criticism in the world