Cathexis Northwest Press
Loki Ponders Viennese Wisdom
By: HR Harper
Loki briefly skims
the paperback (meme-bright) Freud, but even
with that he begins an after-dinner chat.
Loki swims in said chatter
to map the Id to the root Mind -
the Pristine Primordial consciousness.
The coke-conflicted patriarch declines,
looking into humanity
through his sugar-addictions.
Loki’s concluded the Sachertorte
needs must be seasoned by,
oh, I don’t know, mama ayahuasca?
But Loki just looks for laughs
as though a chuckle could replace
the wave’s hunger to be the sea.
(On a more serious note,
Loki can’t find the melody anymore.
He’s unaware he and Freud are in assisted living.)
So, let’s say on today’s table, neither myths nor dreams
hold valid keywords; data upstages lore.
Both are jailed in the escape of all search engines.
So, the engineers are free to fall asleep,
dazed in hunger’s satiation,
glazed with a small bit of synecdoche.
So, in creation’s borderland we see what we are,
the cosmic dissociative identity disorder;
brandy and cigars.
Blinding, winding, out on a limb, what for?
Loki and Sigmund sittin’ in a tree…
Even business for monkeys is metaphor.
HR. Harper is a poet living in the redwoods above Santa Cruz CA. He was a creative writing major at UCLA studying under Jascha Kessler and Calvin Bedient, and he then studied in the Ph.D. program in English at UCLA, without finishing. A gay son of a fundamentalist minister, a recovering addict, and a practitioner of Dzogchen meditation, he writes to understand, heal and resolve the curious limits and contradictions of consciousness in a world that is being destroyed by humans. Although writing poetry over the last few decades, H.R. Harper has only recently sought to publish these poems. He will have poems published in the 2021 Summer-Fall issue of Prospectus, in the August 2021 online edition of The Write Launch, a Wingless Dreamer anthology, the Winter, 2021 issue of The Vital Sparks, and the Fall 2021 issue of 34th Parallel magazine.
Behind the Scenes:
I remember once, a lifetime ago, in an undergraduate poetry workshop I had written a poem invoking pagan deities in the ancient fertile crescent – a fellow poet commented, “so what the hell is this? A research poem?” This was a comment that troubled me, made that ole crest fall down, because it did cause me to think about where my poetry comes from. Is it a report of raw life, or am I just a product of what I read? Now, at the other end of life, I see that ideas, images, stories come to us in so many ways, and the happy achievement is we can make something beautiful and true. True to our internal experience of the world, and there is no “real world” other than that experience.
This poem is one of several poems I’ve written this past year naming and playing with Loki. They became a chapbook-sized collection, Loki’s Big Adventures. Though I’ve always been amused by and attracted to the notion of a god who misbehaves, Loki wasn’t something that I had planned to channel. But I’ve always respected brats and disruption seems like exactly what our current culture needs. Tricks, puzzles, and ambushes are hallmarks of Loki’s discomforting play.
Maybe Loki became a Melpomene to voice my experience and cultural/spiritual critiques because the pandemic led to binge-watching six seasons of The Vikings. Maybe it was stumbling upon Neil Gaiman’s brilliant Norse Mythology. Whatever the prompt, invoking Loki enabled a way of looking at the torrent of information coming at us from all the screens in front of us, on our laps and in our hands, those screens which addict and control us and firehose Big Data at us. Loki pulled apart those conventions. Not taking things too seriously might be a way of getting at some serious truth. And if the victory against convention is unlikely, both in our psyches and our smartphones, at least the struggle can be seen clearly and crack us up. Poetry, right?