Blackbox Manifold

Issue 10: Rachel Zolf

from Janey Settler-Invader

They have no perpetual arrears

of unfinished work, so I can get

enough fame then money to get

away from here so I can become

alive, and they know nothing

of transcendentalism,

microbes, or Mrs. Eddy.

They do not pay taxes,

have no ‘at home’ days,

do not have to re-bind their skirts,

and get no offensive yellow bills

intimating that their water

supply will be cut /

off at the main un- (

less promptly_ ~paid

for. They need

not serve on a

jury, or in the

militia. They need

not Fletcherise

their food, need not

shave, and never

heard of a financial

stringency. You think

booze, sex, coke, rich

food, etc. are doors out?

We need total oblivion. What was

I saying? They keep their appen·d

ixes inside, where they properly

belong, and their children

know nothing of a punctual, piti

less schoolrbell. Of what other

blessed raice can this be said ?



The girls are brightly good-humoured

and intelligent, i.e. adaptable

in the locked room. Marie Louise

has a mouth the colour of blood-lilies. One day

she found a pencil stub. God told her to laugh with it,

every pukey bit, cause some guy covers you with his

sperm a wild girl likes sensual things for the gloaming

had come upon the plains, heads crested with uncouth

horns and shaggy manes inclining her outstretched

wings silver, sapphire, violet-gold to keep this law

more horny just a few minutes ago than by poems

chained to the ground with a terrible awe, then by

oblivion outside the night, night becomes flared

snouts thrust down lest my breath be an augury

for tiny flowers and fears in the f>cked°up arcadia.



The old women sit around and smoke.

Their faces bear the imprint of

monotony. The bear raged. Foam

frothed from his mouth. This tottering beldame,

with skin a wrinkled prune, is the very sybil who

had already lived seven hundred years when Aeneas

went to Italy and threw himself against the door as

hard as he could. That didn’t work. The bear forgot

the rosy cheeks and bright blue eyes and threw

himself against the door even harder. She gave

instructions, you remember, how to find his father

in the infernal regions. These networks become history

and culture (if they work) and as such, turn

against me and take away time and space. They

tell me what to do. The world I perceive, everything

I perceive are indicators of my boring needs. She

conducted him to the very entrance of the fullness and

breadth, the clear entirety of this hell, its limitations

fully apparent the moment we become conscious

of the vj J^]^ <md 9^e,at men and the. olL^ line. arts.

terrorist. pleasures of the chase upon the plain.



Pioneering to-day is not so serious a matter

as it once was. I remember I wanted to be a good

girl for my father. It will not work with the bear

who, like the Indign, has to be shot to be

made good. That was a saying of the Athenian

state. You’re gonna spoil her looks, the white boy

smiled. Back in Alexandria the rebels take over. Art

requires judgment and deftness, for an animal

struggling for hours in a trap turns more or less

mad, desires encircled by a golden bracelet and

ends joined by a venomous bite. Put through your

facings as if all the face of the plains was being

hurled toward the south in a condition of the wildest

turmoil, your scurvy race is almost run. La patrie

has reason to be proud of her zealous son. I go

sojourning to visit a nighbour. Ever a contact of peril,

the bear was causing all the weather. The Indign

despises the man who uses the hoe; then the

settlers’ needs are sore. This was surely dramatic;

this was tragic indeed. Rags! A bed of straw; a crust

of bread; the shattered roof; the naked floor; a deal

table; a broken chair. God save Oirland. Winnipeg

is the Unter den Linden of Canadian enterprise.



But I was telling you about the Indigns.

You must pardon my digressions, you’re flying

away I’m following you whee whee the world

is silver for some reason this sight of blackness

makes the bear very happy. The bear begins

to dance and sing and make all sorts of funny

noises, ‘Everything that isn’t touching

my eyes is gone.’ Thunderball tears roll

sweat-drop hailstones from raunchy fur.

Argus had to keep his thousand eyes

pinned on a horny cow. We shoved

locusts and plagues against each other. Poor

Colonists! Finding it impossible to get the Indigns

to raid the settlement, the crofters were poor farmers,

for they were rather fishermen. Thirty-seven portages

lay between them and the dissociable sea. But there is

trouble just ahead. No turning back now. The Rubicon is

all the sea-divinities combined to stand before total disaster

and muse over clenched sights: ‘You are almost as clever

as an Indign in maiden meditation fancy free.’



Some of the men who hurt me because I don’t

always see myself have long hair and wear

their blankets toga fashion, just like lawyers

in the lonely, the Royal F■ck of Justice, in the

Strand. The roads are our civilization. I rub my dying

-to-come hips against the bones sticking out. The men

who do what other people condemn are the men who

advance our civilization. I’m going to travel to Scotland

’cause there are lots of men in Scotland and no one’

ll tell me what to do there. Don’t ask me nothing. I

don’t know. I’m in pain. Then I’ll believe the stars

light up my head and GJhere dots she qo? She coas a

stupid girl : she went and offered herself }QiokioarcH>y

to sormeone ujbo didn't cuant her. That’s not stupid.

The bia^est pain in the world is feetinq, but sharper

is the pain of the self. My legs and arms spawn winds

(the half-breeds! the half-breeze!) gathering from the

north. In the brave days of old, the bois-brûlé was as

independent as a feudal baron, the Heelander forced

to surrender ancient muskets carried at Culloden. We

all sign the gold ring pulled from this damsel’s demure

finger, blind to the ethics of the guide who robbed her.



The Persian slave traders taught their children three things:

riding, truthfulness, and archery. Just as I’m laying

on his head the apples I’ve ripped off I’m putting in

your hands a thankless sleep gift rolling off your slanted

body. Even so the Indigns. There are quite a few of us

who think we might imitate them with advantage. Here

too, in the hush, for the first time, the planter’s ear heard

a far-off, nigh indistinct, sound of galloping thunder. No

£zaf£ T/) : ) this peasant that peasant oood peasant Then

followed the wooing among the flowery prairies; and the

white men began to pledge *j the, endi'nQS here : ) their

troths to the dusky girls. So far as I am able to deduce,

jistAx3 /!) the Indign’s deadly and unpardonable sin lies

>> a better peasant j.T 'J olKO oil this peasant is better

in the act that he has not made money as a whore

and had nothing else to feel. He knew C**>7 /JJ^

not what it meant, and his followers surmised that

it might be the tumult of some distant waterfall, borne

hither because a storm was at hand, and the denser

air was a better carrier of the sound. But how,

pray tell, can the hideous figure make money

when his blood is mixed with the sap of trees?



Suddenly a little unsuspected ecstatic

crazy-making overtaking wildness

like a big King Viper spreading his

hood rising up and overtaking seventy-

five wagon loads of Indigns in the procession

and I have the distinction of being the only

citizen halfway between an alligator and a bird

who wants to be a □ □» ^ bird I want the textures

of your lives. I want the whole world to burn

up in an instant. “Give us beef!” yelled the Indigns.

If we close our eyes and spread our legs, an abortion

is just like getting fucshiv shifting shivers lurk in

corners, corners of the nothing, here the tiger rose,

some savage queen of beauty Ping! rose to his knees

and breathed her sultry balm Ping! in his face the bullets

whizzed; aloof the shy wild rose stood, bitched up under fire,

shedding scent with delicate reserve; but the wild pea, your

blood is frozen, and the convolvulus, and the augur flower,

and the insipid daisy ran riot through the grass land, this ball

swerving and surfeiting his nostrils with their sweets. Upon the

mellow level stood Riel performing a variety of evolutions like

Mohammed, El Mahdi and other great patrons of rice and religion

weaker than a shorn Samson, a clump of poplars or white oaks, prim,

like virgins sans suitors, the half-breedze laughed, their robes drawn

close, hands blooded with settler; but when the wind blew over the

unmeasured plain, green heads bowed as if saluting the stranger, ‘Ah,

ma petite amie!’ who came to found snug little flocks of wilderness

exteiTftination ^P** sentinels.



The monotonous iteration of the tom-toms

is maddening. If the gods were listening

they would strike these young men dead;

but if there is God, God is disjunction

and madness leaving the young men

of the tribes like vibrating nuts. No emotion

possible is dark mist God blotted out: Your

hateful sweetness I’m clinging to. ‘Nearer,

clearer, deadlier than before.’ Lo! out of

the west came what seemed a dim shadow

moving across the plain. Temperamental

and raging like all the Arabs folding their tents

like all the Indigns stealing silently away. Turn

my eyes insane while being corrupts itself

AS A POOL OF SHAME. Poetry! fc^tO thtre'5

Poetry! Take me away through the farthest

races through the farthest waves to where no

men reek hot breath all over my body. I’ll do

anything, anything but yumped up Jesus Christ!

Rachel Zolf’s fifth full-length book of poetry, Janey's Arcadia, which errantly enacts the ongoing ravages of settler-colonialism on the Canadian west, is forthcoming from Coach House Books in Fall 2014. For more information on her work, see: