In Cabazon

Trevor Losh-Johnson, one of our regular contributors, has recently published an original hybrid book of lyric  poetry and prose. It is a brilliant piece of writing, with many remarkable high points and outstanding passages. In an email Trevor described it to me this way:

In Cabazon is a gothic pastoral spun out of a setting that by any exercise of rationale should be fictional. Cabazon, a dusty hamlet in California, is home to the world’s only creationist museum to be housed in the bowels of a dinosaur. A fusion of verse and prose, the narrative roves through the suburban sprawl of Southern California and into the heart of Western wastelands. In Cabazon  is of and for Californian deserts.

 By gothic pastoral, I mean a nightmarish story split formally between two poles, the lyric and the narrative. Each relates to the other. The lyric side starts with an invocation to build a church in a boundless, chaotic desert, to delimit sacred space. It then transitions into a journey through a museum, in which the attempt at building a space like a cathedral to contain all creation has changed into an attempt to record and preserve the things that have been lost to time. The narrative side follows a man’s search for his lost wife, and makes a similar transition into loss, but with a twist. It is a very hallucinogenic piece of writing, extremely ironic and revelatory at the same time, ambitious, doomed to failure, entirely in keeping with the spirit of a desert city with concrete dinosaurs espousing creationist ideology.

The book was edited and published by Jeffrey Douglas, a PhD candidate here at McMaster, and a brilliant young writer himself. All content is copyrighted by BlankSpace Publications, 2012. For more on the book and BlankSpace Publications, go here, here, and here.

Here is a sampler:

 

29.i.

At the Cabazon museum a single room

Contained two antechambers, sun and moon

And I took the latter through a purple veil

Silent and dim the chamber led past a mural

As on a cave’s wall down unintended steps

A plesiosaur suspended in the deep

Caught a darting fish with needleteeth

And past the mural encased upon the wall

A fossilfrieze of curled bones in rock

As boulders pebble the surface of shallow lakes

And diagrammed beside the osseous heap

A map depicting how the mother lay

And where to note the bones in the uterine wall

Beside that broken eggs or stomach stones

 

30.iii.

In the oilhot temple smells of olive and cedar

Climb along the columns to erect

The prehistoric past with carved dinonecks

Inhabited of old Titans, serpentine and follicular

Those cornices seethed and the room suffused with green

And while the herd milled like scattered palms

A pack, bipedal carnivores, lurked and surveyed

At once took casually the nearest calf

And exerted after others but the mothers

Trampled many—one both dazed and hurt

Pressed its snout to its partner’s neck and found

Gashes and spongiform tissue—ponderously

Their knees sank beneath buckling weights to the mud

And let the carcasses rot in the fetid place

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