Stalling in 'Solidarity Texts'

“I am wont to join the collective that has the miracle and privilege of flowering. The unblooming, then, is the motion I sit with — this lag time that goes on.” Photo by Reginald A. Malby and Co., Southwark Local History Archive and Library, via Wikimedia Commons.

I sit with Solidarity Texts, and I am drawn to its states of motion: Anne Waldman’s metabolizing, M. NourbeSe Philip’s ruminating on what cannibalizes, Levi Bentley’s “Destroy them […] Keep moving,” everyone’s marching; and — yet — all the stall therein. What to make of ritual time, written and henceforth read; of the memorial, the eulogy, the flash obituary kept here.

Gillian Conoley’s modular form in “My Currency” both abides by and invents a formula for personal psychosocial exchange — hard pan of the head, way out, way in, way out, semipermeable fence of X’s with only written allowance: “I am everyone, everyone in the dream.” If Conoley’s currency is that of “many tiny wives,” and yet insistently particular, the directionality of heteropathic identification becomes ambivalent, turning head without news. This too is a statement, a contained motion that stalls me. I return here after “Daisy Chain,” an array of poems collected by Jeanne Heuving, and, in the endnote, identified so as to direct counterclockwise reading. I read clockwise, interpellated by time; and a transparent recursivity begins, ends, knots through with flora. I am identifying this because it is simple, because it is habit, because it gives me pause and I lag again. “I miss my garden, my mama, my books, my swing, my copse,” Moyna Pam Dick lists simply, in an excerpt from I am writing you from afar: “Having been transformed into a fist, my only hope is to unclench. / That, before anything else.” I disagree, but I understand that moral ground, that myth of tepid renunciation. “Some time ago, I must have died. Now I am simply on their spindle,” and if heteropathic identification is of issue, what is collective here is their spindle, mine, the spinning that ensues  — I write, for my partner


there is a measure of the haptic           as a mode of looking   that is feminized          which is
where I am    the loom, clothbound ladies magazines, thrifted patterns           resting under my new window           in this way, historical and craft, gender feels like a period    there is a passage
from the argonauts that refreshed itself on my Instagram timeline; the book itself I hadn’t
touched since two falls ago, had forgotten how much it offers in the way of stalling futurity,
              of: or, hope      and it feels that            in this way      feeling recurs  these are the nodes of queer between my space and yours        the surface of it like a neck, swollen recognition the lymph
              if you are going away, digital touch seems the most graceful            if you notate on my
kindle   if all documents are channeled thru    one machine to touch  we may as well           be touching      too       some evenings I throw my intention            and the cat goes on     in this way
              we catch your attention           we are belonging together       you lay your whole front on mine                   most of the time, this is the most surface area we share

I find I’m always reading about archives of trauma, the way public life grows from these easily crystallized collection sites. I feel, in consequence, a multiplied experience of time. If this is some basis for heteropathic identification, ability to share material time and spend it by socializing with what is archived, then I can see the draw, and me marching there. But the pause between a coy romance with the possibility of anthology, self-anthology, and the deep knowledge that most histories cannot ever — even with the conceit of reading, material dwelling — be mine, is that the latter is the crux of my coming of age, time, bodily and spatial and social and civic learning. It’s that I feel this, from Elizabeth Willis: “Something pounding / while something else / flowers. Can you say / to the flower: bloom / harder. Bloom different,” and always yet, I am wont to join the collective that has the miracle and privilege of flowering. The unblooming, then, is the motion I sit with — this lag time that goes on.

M. NourbeSe Philip, vitally intent on the work of form and what happens for it to break, “ruminates” on the form of a presidency: “what happens when the content of the poem overwhelms (cannibalizes perhaps?)” There is so much content of presidency (its poem, its collected) that the form that breaks is the time it takes, the motion of the movement, the will to action that deservedly impels interrogation — if, as Anne Waldman writes, there is so much work to recuperate what “was not real” and is administrative idiocy, biopolitical horror, the real thing we lean on is the metabolism that continues, and makes shit of the unreal. This is the stalled time: how do you move on by moving back; how do you resist by harking a bodily archive that is not collective. Do you collect? Do you trash the idea of blooming, please?


to speak of      : daily correspondence, making meals, you at desk proper and me sprawled on
bed, beverages swapped between us, a sweet for an admission, a key copied for an admission, a pilfered flower for an admission; is to admit a dependent way of moving in circles here, until admitted. all this going without saying: a joy toward your presence, how you let me, and these
are the ways I want you. how to sustain intimacy by this rehearsal of care, which is always a novel surface. I don’t mean this lightly 

I am not wanting to say that intimacy, that stalls in the most affirmative way, is my way out. It is
a way in, to this resolve of lag, proof that to keep moving is also to keep. A maintenance, a metabolism, that in its survival, survives today’s spectacular imperialism, and my own stalled ambivalence.

There is the conceit of anthologizing — the work of collecting together and toward — as a gesture toward collective. And the conceit of collecting, as an act toward singular material power. Here, already, is a bind to pause for: of something collected, even if not purporting collectivity. Julie Carr writes incisively in “A fourteen-line poem on the idea of freedom”: “10. […] The spirit of / 11. Maleness survives the walking / 12. Body. Give it / 13. Over to be fucked / 14. Into the non-state of being in common”; this commonality that is not a state, that is stateless, basic, given, unparticular, relegated as such and as a whole. If not collective, then singular in statelessness. The motion afforded here: giving over, being in common, after what survives is state.

The “idea of Freedom” stalls; what is retained are antiquated forms (sonnet, sentence), colliding toward the non-action of being against state. The subversion of these ateleological lines survives, after giving over is done; and after commonality, called out, is done for. I recognize here, across the street from my co-op, navigating in sun the container garden of the sidewalk, the danger in identifying resistance in this commonality. I take well to strategy, but I fall off my bike, crush flowers under my weight, none of this is glorious but I say so, am slated for traffic, we all are on the way to the march. I leave quick. The hats repel me, I bark. The event makes me want to jump out of the skin in question. Every part of the itinerary succumbs to lag time. Patience is not fortitude for our state as it is; there is stall between this collective effervescence and the power I feel from the queer women I have near, between this march on time and the time the sovereignty I’ve never grown into expecting is evacuated, between this dislocation of body and the discretion of many bodies in writing, between my reading these solidarity texts and feeling anything like power, a collective with me or a collection behind me. Lag is what it takes to register horror for horror. Possible, too, that lag is what it takes to register strength for something differential, riddled with grit, the stalling to work in and through. Most possibly, though, is that the stall is no excuse for consequential inaction, for not making as a way of making do — but a case of collecting, as formal measure as well as prognosis for political unproductivity.