“Disembodiment is a kind of terrorism, and the threat of it alters the orbit of all our lives and, like terrorism, this distortion is intentional,” writes Ta-Nehisi Coates. In Between the World and Me, Coates illustrates how disembodiment is both the catalyst and conclusion of racist acts; he writes to his son that America’s history of racism against its black citizens, including the figuring of these citizens as black in opposition to a white ruling class, means “first and foremost, to deny you and me the right to secure and govern our own bodies.”
One of the most powerful poems I read last year is Rickey Laurentiis’s “I Saw I Dreamt Two Men,” and after having it running in the back of my head for months, I think I am starting to see how the poem responds to the terrorism of disembodiment, and how it asks its reader: And you? How does your body belong to, or participate in,this body politic?
Bibliography: Masaoka Shiki: Selected Poems, translated by Burton Watson (Columbia University Press, 1997). ¶ A few words from Watson's Introduction: "The first poet to compose hokku of true depth and artistic stature was Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694), who is regarded by many as the greatest haiku poet of all time. [ . . . ] Two other poets in the years following who wrote haiku of outstanding quality were Yosa Buson (1716–1783) and Kobayashi Issa (1763–1827). These three, along with Masaoka Shiki, make up the four masters of the form...."