George Quasha: From 'Speaking Animate' (preverbs) with a note on the poetics of preverbs

G. Quasha: Axial Drawing – Dakini Series 2012
G. Quasha: Axial Drawing – Dakini Series 2012

1                                              words under pressure bleed original sense


The trouble with paradise is you never want to be away from home.

I make what calls me out.
All gone before you know it.

Words may drop passing color yet seeing you here now are born again, and again.
Closing a word in the mouth feels the sound until the tongue can’t stay still.

To unmask is to go silent.
Language makes no promise to communicate.


An articulated sound has it own dream in the ear.
Her presence in the room gives aroma to the syllables I voice.

Now she’s ready to draw eros from foreign bodies.
It starts by focusing on the sounds beyond hearing, still felt.


By she I mean who speaking animate configures.
This is the time of alternative obscurities to see through.


Through thoroughly, as a word weighs.


2                                                          a voice scape landing

They’re playing the perfect music for our movie, Rushing to Meet Anima.
The rhythm’s spacious enough I slip in the back door without a trace.

The drama is gathering soundless. It lives like that.

I never let go of her hand in my other world.


This I learn from you who read me back.

They say ancient Irish saw serpents where there aren’t any.
I descend from there to here where I see what I say even unsounding.


Writing I extinguish my voice but there is calling you hear.

Falling apart is syntactic.
Writing at the edge of collapse is surrender.


Saying depths in a tongue all hands puts the cards on the table over the edge.

Time to stop asserting order where it’s already in waiting.


Write this off as of a poet or one inspired by being written through.


3                                              time has its ins and outs

A sacred grove takes refuge in the voice.


A language hasn’t come through to itself if being inside isn’t self-instructive.
Syllable by syllable earwise spreading orders the cells.

What configures signs, time switching subjects on the line like my life.
It seems the same is saying there were no same.

A journey ever worth taking records itself within your hearing even now.
“I will always have been here before with or without you.”

Gnoaxial poetics, for want of right naming, finds pulse in grammatical drift.


The more she says the more I find configures.
The new singular noun soon plurals.

I’m beginning to recall the forgotten adventure, long since signed for.
The time of our playing recalls us back together.

This very time turns into space in our search for self true north.
Her tone is dissecting the next move out before.

The tense is two timing us.

The experience beyond reportable experience is self sensing.
Real work is indefensible.

4                                               seeing through hearing

Now to dowse the poetics of the poem to come.
We hold these principles to be self evident—in order to be self evidence.


Configuration is parthenogenetic.
We’re talking fate here.
High flying biology. Bios mating logos.
Flowering, percipiently imaginarily auto-erotically speaking.
It sees and knows what it’s doing not a moment before.


We call back to our other us through the air pressed into sound.
I’m just trapping animal life in its resound here.

Our group gives the dream time.
A date’s charge belongs at heart to anytime.


Our only mythical bird is fleeing the page as we speak.
It makes a very very very fast line out.
Sculpting hands in the saying.

Not every finger is instantly intelligible.
Signing principle, it calls itself, and hands itself over.


5                                              undesigning music

Watching your dancing feet is its own dance.

What if everyone talked funny at once.
I’m willing to avoid special pleading but ignored distractions will have their say.

Sudden behaviors may be of unaccountable origin.
Tongue the surface long enough and you bleed old demons long in exile.

Learn from the dog to dig up old shame, then bury it where you want it.
If you find a guy’s personality be sure to send it back.


Meet you where we know each other.


Beautiful music takes me away rather than throwing me further in.
Clamoring lines cannot disguise the sound of one mind slipping.

The center is holding just fine, yet the periphery is forgetting where it is.

Freudian slips of the hand put your mouth on your money.

Also note paradisal memes at the tip of the slip.


Life goes on … off … on … off.

6                                              scared sacred

What am I hearing with these other ears?


Prepare your mouth with pre-carnal intentions.
Poetry valorizes childhood because children make language.

First language.

It gets you little again to be verbal.

I can’t deny my excitement upon reaching the threshold of carnality.
No more hovering over secondhand bodies.

The heart is the organ of consorting.

Life is intelligent
means it knows where it’s going but I don’t.
Fearful asymmetry.

Contacting the word’s core intent to mean itself is poetic insistence.

Logophagi know that certain morphemes are more delicious than others.

No truth behind the poem, only forward in its own before.


* * *

a note on the poetics of “preverbs”

If a proverb is a statement of wisdom in a single verbal gesture, a preverb is a statement in wisdom-mode that due to a linguistic open middle never arrives at wisdom as such but suspends reading in oscillatory mindful outcomes. Preverbs do not accumulate or progress but continuously return to zero point and are often syntactically variable; however, they do tend to swarm.

Speaking Animate (preverbs)
is a poem series that I call a preverbs-complex. "Preverb," obviously a twist on proverb (related originally to Blake's "Proverbs of Hell" in Marriage of Heaven and Hell), refers to a single line, which is the basic formal unit in the work, limited by the line-length of a Word doc. "Preverbs" refers to the work in general but also to a "complex." A complex is an arrangement of lines in a larger unit: first, a numbered unit, like those here, in the given sequence, limited by the length of the page in a Word doc (double-spaced in my working but not here) and which has a kind of title--a name-like verbal unit at page-top after the number. This "title," however, is not a true title in that it does not necessarily relate specifically to the content of the page-complex; rather, it's a parallel language act like the single preverb or the page-complex that bears upon what follows in various ways. Second, preverbs may indicate a preverbs-complex as the assembly of page-length poems, in this case the sequence of 24 numbered units comprising Speaking Animate, from which you have this selection. Accordingly I can say "a preverbs" and mean either the page-unit or (most often) the larger sequence (preverbs-complex). Seven of these preverbs-complexes comprise a book; Speaking Animate belongs to the unpublished book of 7 preverbs-complexes called Glossodelia Attract (preverbs). This is the 8th book of preverbs to date, each book consisting of 7 preverbs-complexes of a variable number of pages. 8 books = 56 preverbs complexes = something like 500+ pages. Only one book has been published to date: Verbal Paradise (preverbs) (Zasterle, 2012), but I'm also publishing preverbs-complexes as short books of which the first is Scorned Beauty Comes Up From Behind (preverbs) (Between Editions, 2012). Another is forthcoming.


Speaking Animate (preverbs) is dedicated to Robert Kelly