phoenix bishop
----------------stephanie pope

In the name of the father

we stayed little and life stayed little
and the truth stayed hidden and men
stayed holy.

that image figures faintly throughout all
my refiguring. A disfiguring figuration that is
never grown-up although usually gray-haired
and very much in keeping with appearances
A part of me learned early to be unfaithful
But that part never did belong
because it was a red fruit 
and the puer-priests kept on puer-peopling so
Dis figured am I and forgotten
in the "abs" and the "ins" in the
solute and finite solutions of a
normal world with obvious values
I was luckier than He
I had guilt by association. He was innocent

There used to be a way that ensured the
holying of life. Back then it was easier to
believe that life grew indestructibly red
Grew red.
And offered itself freely as if it were made
like a normal world in a normal way
Like red-bled fruited life
growing in the saguaro's jaw
and as if it were, in the holy rite
carried out by decree of my merest
in the mirroring, a fruit of consecrated hands
In the name of the father, we prayed.

somehow there has been
an erasure of the image in the named
and everyone claims innocence
and now
there is nothing being offered back to itself
and nothing, I've heard said
still carries an ab solute in est I mate-able value
but, not in itself mind you
rather in accrual whereby the capital gains
gain value through their ruin
In a great rate of exchange

I'll always be a red woman
And, if I am wronged it is only because
I've lived in a wrong relatedness
In ways that have polished the surfaces of
holiness leaving too white what preyed over us
in take-away and
fooling me to think
the mighty demon lived soul in a singular face

p--photo by Emmanuel Lozano/The Arizona Republic
--photo vignette by Stephaniepope e

Author's Note: The poem works with a poetic language or image developed by
Jacques Derrida in his essay, "White Mythology", Published in Margins of Philosophy (207-72).


All poetic language will re introduce through its symbols what works upon it, penetrates its
depths and threatens its reality. (1) Much poetry of depth, participating mythopoetically
in its re creating of elsewhere the shocking fascinans, transforms these ungraspable, highly
charged emotions incrementally into smaller and smaller containable expressions of emotional
'horror'. The poetic helps one grapple with what cannot be faced, grasp something this 'new' or renewed contact with this ground of being the poem provides, steal away in the fruit of it  what the soul of the image "wants", and begins to deal with that part of things. Where a poetic expression does not accent  this shock, when the poem  imagery does not attempt any further penetration, but rather,  moves to re claim in smaller emotional incrementals of depth an expression in sentiments of relation, the poetry belongs to a
poetry of relation.

The expression of sentiment a poem carries in terms of valuation, can be likened to coinage
in a system of trading. These coins of sentiment are the results of penetrations into the reality
of the imaginal function of mind what then begins producing  these "easily exchangeable,
consumable units of feeling or meaning. I think of this or liken it to the way an apple tree apples. 

Poetic sentiments that attempt explorations into the entanglements of relational branchings
belong to a genre called poetess poetry. Poetess poems are, rather than a further penetration of depth into the terrific thing we call ultimate and absolute reality, a thing of Beauty, in as much as I can bear what I lay bare. They attempt a reach or branching out across boundaries dividing people from people into contact with the larger and collective ground of peopling a humanity.  Poetess poetry attempts to contain and express and thereby exchange relational units picting in wider worlds of relation. In both senses of exchange, the sense of commercial exchange and in the sense of exchange of incrementals of sentiment, poetess poetry performs what Deleuze and Guattari call “the first sort of deterritorialization” or expansion out from national boundaries by using “a vehicular . . . language, a language of commercial exchange” (23).


(1) see essay this site, Jouissance and Mythopoeic Movement

Work Cited

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature. Trans. Dana Polan. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986.

Derrida, Jacques. "White Mythology: Metaphor in the Text of Philosophy", Margins of Philosophy. transAlan Bass.University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1982.

Return to mythopoetry home