Day in Night | Chris Stroffolino

let light go into the nature of things —Ben Franklin

Enlightenment coffee:
the light and dark of it,
rich and poor, up and down
fast and slow, man and woman
of it, light is up

and dark is down
light isn’t a thing
and things must be dark

Enlightenment–
the active idea light,
the dark passive thing—
a world from that?

Coffee—
active dark ingredient
passive drinker sipping
with cream from happy heifers…
a thickening line

above this line, the domain
of eyes and separation,
nerves so shattered
hands can’t get their act together
to teach the shovel
to caress the soil with life
(or let the Singer caress the cloth)

2.
To jump ahead, behind,
to start, with a simple
word Day (and wordless
noise or silence). yes, Day

is no longer
equal to night
but is under-
stood as a container

in which both day
and night live
or is it battle?

The day in day
can side with the
big d Day it’s in
against its dark side
as matter

against space
against the black
or for the white
Christmas of the North
when it’s red summer

in the South,
to say nothing
of the equator

or evening, or where
“the night is always
wider than the day.”

“and afford leisure
to cultivate the arts
(at least what you
call arts, if not crafts)

3.
Earth is water
calling Earth Earth
rather than ocean
is like calling
Night/Day Day
maybe even worse
since ocean is more
earth than night
is day….our bodies
mostly water….
Earth is dirt
as in you treat me like
dirt, you treat me
like earth, even

4.
what goes up must come down
the post coffee crash
so the economy
had to go south

because most people’s
depression can still be
a minority’s manic boom

like when mind first
knew it needed body
as white felt it needed
black as money knew
it needed to (harness)

barter, as day knew
it had to use the night
that had no use for it,

the night of coffee beans
where they grow, even cocoa
Frenchified into chocolate,
to toboggan tobacco[1]

The white that needed
upper drugs, or supper
clubs, to support the strain of

mind trying to live as mind
above Descartes’ white collar
(I might, therefore I’m
right; I writes); the life
and death of it

and someone down
& out enough to catch
you when you fall…
and one may wonder
what the coffee bean
thinks about all of this…

5.
Before Enlightenment
termed the brightest places on Earth
the dark continent,
the word “owe”
not only meant what it means today—
“I am in debt,” or “you are in debt,”
but it also meant
today’s meaning of “own.”

You owe what you own.
It’s all over Shakespeare.
property relations
were not quite as reified
and the economy
may have rooted a little more
in the ecology
just before England
got in on the slave-trade—

if you can own people
you certainly don’t owe them anything
thus, if you own the land
you certainly don’t owe it,
or the people who live there, anything

6.
Enlightenment could wage its little war
with the Puritan dominated church,
but they could agree on racism and slavery,
and damn if the ministers didn’t love
a good cup of coffee
as much as the statesmen, newspapermen
and bureaucrats did….

In the secular world,
Dark and black is not always negative.
You can be in the black
if you sell enough slaves at a profit.

Laws were passed saying that any offspring
of a white father and black mother
would be considered black
to give economic incentives
for whites to rape black slave women.

Furthermore, if such rapes came to light,
the myth that that the hyper-sexualized
black woman slave was seducing
or even raping the gallant white
(Jeffersonian) slave owner was pushed.

At the same time, the white men
“wanted to prevent the limited number
of white women from engaging
in similar interracial relations
(as their bi-racial babies would become free).”

7.
Enlightenment grew by day,
with the unequal coffee trade,
the tea and slave trade
to rescue Europe from the dark ages
of nomadic night or when those Muslims
got as far north as Spain and started
infecting the English language
with zeroes, or algebra
closer to the equator
where night and day are more equal
and Africa was more free

Christian soldiers followed
the land-grabbers on the front
to use the coffee as a kind
of white powder, speed
up the thinking machine
(gum it up, gun it up).

There may yet be
A Tome on Pure Reason
if you don’t sleep.

Yes, the coffee worked for you
and how do you define you?
It wasn’t only Macbeth who murdered
sleep, and how do you define sleep
when coffee-colored slaves became your morning Joe?

Ah Europe; if you’re up; the rest is down….
Ah America, you’re closer to Africa
and South America than you think.
that stuff they got DOWN there
can really get us UP
and when black people move north
the Harlem Renaissance
is portrayed as King Kong’s climb
up the Empire state building
and the Panthers call for self-determination
scares Hollywood into Planet of the Apes.
No wonder you have a hard time keeping your coffee down
as you gaze down from the windows of your ivory tower
to the heavy bear that goes beneath you,
the body you forget is yours.

8.
Coffee has made some better singers—
loosen the chords for the high notes,
but not being able to sing is no great loss
if you could say and write they sing
with the pre-written voice and beat
all may feel in the womb’s deep craft
or what death may be before
you realized you could make more off a tomb
(like a privatized personal pyramid
more “democratic” than in the Pharaoh’s day
but still more selfish than even the gravedigger’s scene in Hamlet)

Selfish, and more expensive, the grave-like soda
when your body cries for cheaper water
to plant a mango tree next to the coffin-less corpse
and the soil’s collective soul
when digging fed the earth, the land,
liberated the glut of supply,
and the clog of demand, the convoluted
puffed up pride of sacred corpses!

A place to start from, muted
but burning beneath the surface
one might call peace or truce.
The body, beneath, a sleeping giant of space
or water cycle
around the lie of your singularity,
the actual earth that grounds
with its sky, its atmosphere,
the air with its sky, and needs not
coffee and uppers and slaves
to separate, to elevate
to define a self as unit…

The self is but a seed
and the we it calls a weed
a wider we that transpires
a lovely world whose essence
is dialogue and dance
that doesn’t have to divide sky from earth
to explain the (wealth) gap between ideals and realities—

9.
One may have to call the beautiful harmony
the marriage of heaven and hell—
if you start with them as bookends
to hold the earth in place—
just like those who hold the ego in place
with superego and id bookends—

But that starting place always comes later,
like your Legos, or Logos, the word in the beginning
of the Bible (and not its audio book), its mono
theistic personal god, or unmoved mover
who just so happens to resemble the corporate Job Creator
if translated into the prose of feeling
oft derided as “vulgar” or “normative discourse”
of popular gossip syntax—-or, worse,
conversation! True conservation, to conserve
and negotiate a community from the ground up
(even the destroyed ground up ground;
a growl with the word “grow” in it),
a soil that knows it is also air,
the sky between each space of so-called unearthed digging…

10.
Digging
a dynamic soul that can better be understood
in the terms of music history as rhythm and blues!

(Do you ache with emptiness yet?)

One cannot speak of the soul without speaking of soul music
or the flesh becoming word, the ass-freeing-mind
returning to the tomb as a womb, the first sounds.
your mama’a heartbeat louder than the Mazda,
the amniotic fluid that isn’t the weapon of mass destruction
one found in Iraq under the name of “Oil”
in the name of British Petroleum or Gulf,
or in the name of Enlightenment Coffee, Tastebud’s choice

You may call the melody the upper registers,
but the rhythm ain’t down; the blues ain’t up.
the bassist is as melodic as a meeting, a core
to a collective, recorded in order to live
—broadcast–
and the drums might be down, not allowed
to be too loud, begrudged, or accepted only if mixed
in the back, behind the front man or maybe woman
behind the soloist, the call that forgets it’s a response
to response, forgets its parts….

In these passages, you may see a positive thought: The bassist is as melodic as a meeting, a core
to a collective, recorded in order to live
, but the negative follows quickly on its heels….the repression of the drummer, the terms of the so-called harmonic scale that doesn’t even look so great on the paper on which it primarily lives—

11.
As day falls on America
like a wilting flower
ripped from the night,
Socrates spoke of the soul.
Plato wrote it down
Descartes & Hegel
wrote it up
James Brown sang it out
danced it, played and worked it
out and in and out again
A deeper duality than dualism!
(you don’t only have to use the past tense)

The flesh becoming word
and the mangoes
from the tree planted
on the coffin-less graves
ripen as the rhythm
& the blues express soul,
body and soul
body as soul
(with plenty of room for reason
ample room for day
in night when the sky
doesn’t seem like
a ceiling like it does in day)

a larger whole,
spirit that need not
spear it, the bass
melodic as a meeting
the drums no longer
forced in the back
of the bus, or the mix
behind the sensitive
singer-songwriter
or Pandora culture Tzar
in his little trickle down
think-tank
disguised as a heart
from Jamestown…
(or a tailor
from Jackson town)

it comes from night,
from down and in,
an in called out
by “I think,” you know?

and afterwards
you don’t even need
coffee to feel invigorated
for your critique of pure reason
like when sex gets better
when you flip from the missionary position

Epilogue
(and the strained analogy
gloriously, fails)
but as long as metaphysical dualisms
were designed to obscure
the class, race and gender
dualisms they helped create,
such troping may be
a lifelong struggle
in the war of ideas
that are never as disembodied as they pretend.

 


Footnote

1. Nicot, whom Nicotine is named after, was the first to put “race” in the European dictionary. | back

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