from mantra of no return

Kaie Kellough

copyright ©2019 by Kaie Kellough

the rainforest is a mixing board with infinite inputs and infinite outputs.
exponential root strata. riotous snakes. quarter-inch jacks & heads. male /
female. holes and plugs. slithering, electric water. liana cables. bloodvine is a
wire entering, plugging arrival in. line. current will be routed through the
circuit. i am an overproof, alcoholic signal, outbursts clipping. the levels
runneth. hover. kaieteur’s torrents kiskadee over. crackle & bloom in the
woofer. georgetown bubbles & skanks tougher. smoke thunder. the old chief
in the canoe gone to his mythmaker. makunaima overlooker. el dorado lover.
destroyer. high wine drifter. black & brown in the fever together. mix it darker.
mix it redder. babylon haunting the jungle swelter.     a tear, amber.
rupununi resistor, a decible louder. turn up the hemisphere. boost the mighty
rainforest’s canopy into the stratosphere. exceed ire. essequibo deliverer.
many rivers branch & spiel, spell black across the atlantic. liquid archive
parser. the wires crisscross & the curve is logarithmic. turn the dial on the
mix. haunt the tidalectic. run the console. channel one channel check. spin the
tape, magnetic. warble & flutter. wow & static. increase the gain ’til we overdrive
the terrific. boo. boom a lick. boost the lower end, swell the lower end, theorize
the lower end, occupy the lower end, the 99%, the apocalytic fundamental
fretting in the bass lean, the nothingness become boeing, becoming

          a body, a continental jut
       a density of times past
          an assemblage of others who are you, a being made of beings

Notes on the Poem

This excerpt from "mantra of no return", from Kaie Kellough's 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize winning collection Magnetic Equator, illustrates vividly how music informs and is fundamental to his work. This selection packs within its glorious cascade the fascinating technical language of how music is conceived, classified and performed to the sheer musicality of words as they are assembled and vocalizations. Yes, "the rainforest is a mixing board with infinite inputs and infinite outputs" ... so is the poet himself. The wordplay is steady and lively: "quarter-inch jacks & heads. male / female. holes and plugs." and "bloodvine is a wire entering, plugging arrival in. line. current will be routed through the circuit." and "the levels runneth. hover." ... but calibrated to never distort (in fact, no "outbursts clipping"). The wordplay is so vibrant it demands the power of an exuberant bird wielded as a verb: "kaieteur's torrents kiskadee over." Not only is there "warble & flutter" amidst this shimmering poetic cataract, but musical vocabulary permeates the poet's tweeting too: Read this and more of "mantra of no return" (not to mention more of Magnetic Equator) aloud to hear even more of the music. The poetry here and throughout is driven on sonic waves to new connections and realizations, spilling from one page to the next. In addition to his accomplishments with the written word, Kellough is a sound performer. His collaborations and explorations of how words and music so beautifully collide are clearly ongoing, as evidenced by this very recent project with musician Jason Sharp, developed for the Aga Khan Museum: Let's sit back, learn more and just let the power of the poetry and music wash over us.

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