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Close: Yang-Fire

This piece is inscribed by hand into the preface of the yang manuscript of my first book of poetry.

he stands before the pyre
a grapefruit
surrendering juice
in tiny jewels
twinkling in pores
blinking, stolen
unfeeling hands
of heat
sipping the crimson
of his creaturehood
in tangy beads
til beneath the peel
ruby ruddy cheeks
licked past pink
tongued past crimson
and slaking

he gives the flame flesh

he draps his arms
across the pyre
catching the lift
now bursting
bloody mist
the craggy range
of ecstatic faces
and he
the Atlas
of that sphere
the Darkness upon
his shoulders and
his skin
by the last red that bled
from the dying light
of that fire
and its

from flame, flesh
from tongues
the twisting bark
the blissful spire
the writhing fingered leaves
the palate
of that night

we hang from the maw
dripping gnosis
curled about soothsaying stars
our viscera rooting
the changing clouds
and my shifting heart belied

Jordan Baylon, August 2014 

Open: Yang Proto-Manuscript

Tonight is eve of a Super Harvest Moon and is close to the fourth anniversary of this site being a repository for my creative energy. I feel this is an auspicious time to announce that I am currently editing my first manuscript of poetry. 

In keeping with the importance of Taoist concepts of transformational change, I’ve devised three of what I call proto-manuscripts: the first is wuji(無極 or “nothingness”), from which emerge yin (陰) and yang (陽). The work itself compiles poems around the theme of dukkha, which is a Buddhist term that describes what we feel when we are confronted with change. 

What you see here is the yang manuscript, which now belongs to daniel j kirk. I bound this one by hand in a hemp leaf style, but each manuscript will have a different binding and will be given to a person that I trust will freely react to it with scribbles, sketches, notes, and so on. I will then borrow them to inform the final draft. Also, each manuscript will be prefaced by a specially composed poem.

If my fingers and eyes don’t bleed too much I’m also considering hand-binding eight unique copies of the final manuscript to mirror how yin and yang interact to form the bagua (八卦). Ambitious enough for you?

Close: Bodhidharma

little god don’t touch me
i’m big
i can hold all of this
don’t tell me
there are universes within me

little god don’t sit with me
i’m strong
i can weather all of this
don’t tell me
that even now i’m changing

little god don’t lay with me
i’m fast
i can sprint ahead of this
don’t tell me
there’s nowhere to be but here

i fall to become
and falling i come undone
undone one’s not one

Jordan Baylon, August 2014 (photo: Daruma in sumi, December 2013)

Open: The Mystery


Words: Jordan Baylon

Photograph: Justin Tan

Close: Limbic Resonance

Because limbic states can leap between minds, feelings are contagious, while notions are not. If one person germinates an ingenious idea, it’s no surprise that those in the vicinity fail to develop the same concept spontaneously. But the limbic activity of those around us draws our emotions into almost immediate congruence. […] It seems a strange irony that we need science to rekindle faith in the ancient ability to read minds. That old skill, so much a part of us, is not much believed in now. Those who spend their days without an opportunity for quiet listening can pass a lifetime and overlook it altogether. The vocation of psychotherapy confers a few unexpected fringe benefits on its practitioners, and the following is one of them. It impels participation in a process that our modern world has all but forgotten: sitting in a room with another person for hours at a time with no purpose in mind but attending. As you do so, another world expands and comes alive to your senses - a word governed by forces that were old before humanity began. 

A General Theory of Love - Amini, Lannon & Lewis

(image: Lithograph by Mark Erickson)

Open: The Visible Darkness

As we came in the door an elderly waitress with shaven eyebrows and blackened teeth was kneeling by a candle behind which stood a large screen. On the far side of the screen, at the edge of the little circle of light, the darkness seemed to fall from the ceiling, lofty, intense, monolithic, the fragile light of the candle unable to pierce its thickness, turned back as from a black wall. I wonder if my readers know the color of that “darkness seen by candlelight.” It was different in quality from darkness on the road at night. It was repletion, a pregnancy of tiny particles like fine ashes, each particle luminous as a rainbow. I blinked in spite of myself, as though to keep it out of my eyes.

- Junichiro Tanizaki (谷崎 潤一郎), In Praise of Shadows (陰翳礼讃) 1933.

Close: The Old Yin Transforming


Between Yes and No
there is how much difference?
Good and evil can be compared.

What others fear
becomes our wilderness of fear.
Oh, it is endless.

People joyfully feast, laughing
as if climbing the springtime tower
to view the terrace.

I alone remain unmoved,
a child not taught to smile,
exhausted, forlorn,
a child without a home.

Everyone has plenty.
I alone am left wanting.
I live in confusion like a fool.

Even ordinary people can be brilliant.
I alone grope in the dark.
The insights of people escape me
as I drift placidly along.

Oh they know ocean depths
and sea winds aimless blowing.
They believe they all have purpose.

The old Taoist alone, the stubborn rustic,
knows Tao itself makes him different.
He’s nourished at the Great Mother’s breast.

-Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching. Transcribed to my notebook in a moment of great agitation and flux, December 1st, 2013.

Image: Watermark (detail) - Jordan Baylon, 2013.

Open: So begins my love letter to Megan Lawson…

This thing that’s so intense and terrible - we are the sons and daughters of that.

Marie Chouinard, Henri Michaux Artist Talk at Fluid Fest, October 23rd 2013

Having known Megan for some years now, it was only a week ago that I saw her dance in person for the first time. She performed a solo piece as part of 02 Dance Company’s show “Answers”.

I don’t remember the music. My memory cannot even form her body from that day in its exquisite expression. I only bear those vibrations captured by the hot tears streaming down my chin to settle deeply and darkly within me. I must have seen my terrible stillness reflected in her, and my yearning to burst forth lovingly from the black into a world of colour, a yearning made flesh. These words are not enough.

(Megan’s 2013 Reel on Vimeo)

Open/Close: Into the Outside

Hanazawa Kengo (花沢 健吾)

Close: X. I’ll find one someday at a thrift shop.

Sarah Lazarovic, Toronto.