Hobart and William Smith Colleges

A Miracle of Rare Device

by Michael Ives & Rick Scott

A Miracle of Rare Device : Michael Ives

That the male / by means of intricate siphons / should be said to offer / in his forelimbs a drop / of nutrient rich spittle / to the mouthparts of the female or “world” / preserving the drop’s perfect sphere / the female or “world” / shall draw the offering through her gift vault / in which everywhere a pressure / inwards on the fluid content / to reinforce those sympathies / between her chambered narthex / and the Reed Boat of Heaven / conveys by chains of imperial water locks / the gift / forth to her interior / where it may assume the englobed priority / of a sky / over that interior wilderness / her abdomen / its duomo a ribbed / pearl- / -inity / which reflection, slurred with zephyrs / comes an unexpected summons / from the stately garden thereunto / you may enter this valley / and your body become / a field of colored dots / for there lay once such a place / which to enter / and my body nothing / but colored dots / as I passed over its threshold / each dot the entire field thereof / equidistant, each from the other / back bedroom to breeze way / heard it said / come, enter the valley / and your body / a very streaming / as with slow weathers / through which leaves vibrate, water purls / here are quiet domes of talking / outer boundary of awareness / strained through a net / that in repose-abilities / may begin the dreaming / hem of the centralizing hurry / broken into animals, moods / while aromatic night / filtered through / the sky’s dark ambient / skews like a gliss / its leaves vibrate / thoughts as if camphorated / jeweled / outer surface of awareness / a hammered gold / of sun discs, of spiral tufts / passage of hours / empurpled / within the chrono-fusion / become auras around these dormancies / and sleep a vast wet buzz / secreted along the face of the visible / in a honeydew / manna / pushed out of the gut / of the world / so as, in the nature of soft astonishment / to tranquilize the male / throb / or plasma of strict expectancy / for which nourishment / all taste for dominion / over time / lost / and time itself / that-wise lost / without consciousness of effort / the flask of mind loosened / with each drop / in grid pressure / shall sensation break / into sky grails / and colored dots / that-body / its estuaries of REM / all façades, their rhythmic pulsations / islanded in the dark Varuna / shall on trembling mirrors feed / and drink that paradise / like a milk.

Michael Ives

When I began writing "A Miracle of Rare Device" I had in mind to devise something like a bio-mechanical mythopoesis of inner calm. I had composed the first quarter of it or so when I received word that a poetry student of mine had died suddenly. With this news, and because of a reading I was to give a couple of weeks after on the Bard College campus, I decided to shift the emphasis of the text away from the rather schematic beginning and toward a more mantra-like vehicle that I imagined might provide for this student, of whom I was quite fond, a safe and comfortable passage across the perils of Bardo (which I only half-understand), that interspace between one's death and her next sentient manifestation, as conceived in the vajrayana of Tibet. The psychedelic fractalization of the surface means to be a formal homage of sorts to the vivid and colorful imagination of the dedicatee, as are the quite audible echoes of Coleridge's "Kubla Khan." To create an acoustic environment that might evoke the pleasurable, if unsettling, disorientation at work in the text, composer Rick Scott orchestrated a variety of ambient sounds and effects to an upper threshold of lushness - among them: frequent but aperiodic shimmers of echoes, interstellar signal tones, and a vaguely menacing drift in the source and timbre of the reader's voice. Our hope is that the combination conduces to the auditory equivalent of an hallucinogenic experience.

Michael Ives is a writer, musician, and sound/text performer whose poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous magazines and journals in the United States and abroad. He cofounded the sound/text performance trio, F'loom, in 1995. He is the author of The External Combustion Engine, (Futurepoem, 2005), and "wavetable," (forthcoming from Dr. Cicero Books). He has taught in the Written Arts Program at Bard College since 2003.

Rick Scott is a composer, writer, and teacher. After graduating from the Freiburger Musikhochschule, he co-founded the musical performance-art groups Health & Beauty, Nemo's Omen, Homunculus, F'loom, and Lost In The Funhouse. Rick's musical influences range from Frank Zappa, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and North Indian classical drumming to 50s sci-fi movie soundtracks, 60s pop, avant electronica and, above all, silence.