Pierre Joris: From 'DIS/ASTER' [Part 3 of 'RIGWRECK'], with an author's note

Disaster: not thought gone awry

when all this first started
            my body broke out into real bad rashes
                        my eyes my face my neck my chest my back my shoulders
big giant holes on the back of my legs,
            holes the size of a #2 pencil
                        looked just like the holes
                                    in the fish
                                               in the lab
                                                on the slab

Gulf: from Greek κόλπος (kólpos) m. [masculine], a bosom, From Proto-European *bheu-ə- :“to swell, bend, curve”


What have you done to know disaster?

            we went to detox —December 11 to January 12

                        the children feel much better now
                                                Alina still has bad days
                                                             she may never be 100%
my little boy is doing fantastic,
                                    my husband’s better &
                                                I’m feeling better too…
            I’ve shelled out $40.000

Gulf: A hollow place in the Earth


Disaster is on the side of forgetting

we did blue crab before BP
            but since BP
                        we don’t blue crab anymore

Gulf: An abyss, a bottomless or unfathomed depth


Disaster: care for the minuscule

            all of a sudden we had shrimp

                        with what they call black gill disease
                                    if they were blue would it be blue gill disease?
we’ve had shrimp
            with growth on them
                        we’ve had had fish with growths on them

Gulf: A deep Chasm, a steep-sided rift, gap or fissure, a large difference of opinion


Disaster: sovereignty of the accident

the Vietnamese & Cambodian communities had
            a really tough time getting hired on
                        to help in the cleanup because of
                                    the great language barrier:
                                               90% of the information put out
                                                in the first 60 days was English only

Gulf: A basin, from Latin “bacca” wine jug, Welch “baich,” load, burden, Irish “bac,” hindrance


In relation to disaster, one dies too late

            the herring came in to mature

                        dropped on the seafloor dead
compromised immune system couldn’t
            fight off a parasite, a natural bacteria

Gulf: A rock formation scooped out by water erosion


Disaster disorients the absolute

            grey amberjack, king mackerel, red snapper, mangrove snapper,

caught offshore when gutted
                         had black sludge in their stomachs
            crossed stomach walls
                        made holes in the flesh
                                    you could see it with the naked eye

Gulf: (obsolete) That which swallow, the gullet


[AUTHOR'S NOTE: “Dis/aster” is the third poem of a sequence of three with the general title Rigwreck — The Gulf (between you and me).  If the opening section was a write-through of Stéphane Mallarmé’s shipwreck poem Un Coup de dés, (forthcoming in issue #17 of Golden Handcuffs Review) the voices that emerge in the second & third section are those of live witnesses of the BP Gulf disaster. Among these, Sheri Revette (the widow of drill operator Dewey Revette, who was among the 11 dead on the night when the Deepwater Horizon blew up) with phrases taken from interviews with her by Antonia Juhasz in the latter’s book Black Tide (Wiley, 2011) and, throughout the final section, excerpts from my February 2012 interview in New Orleans with Kindra Arnesen, the fisherwoman, mother of two, & activist. The hasard / chance compositional strategy persists at another different level via the etymons for disaster & a writing through of that term via Maurice Blanchot’s L’écriture du désastre.
               This work was commissioned by The Crossing, Donald Nally conductor, for their Month of the Moderns 2013, with Funding from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Music Project. This sequence will premiere with a score by Gabriel Jackson on Sunday, June 30, 2013 @ 4pm.]