bent by page

to form a sling,

the clasp of pap-

er enfolds thought

into type-projectile.

within word space

it will be an edge

weapon, carved

from ink, an ogive

of tone. it flits as

a consonant presage

by dint of occluding,

to skip endlessly

from digraph to

capacitance: a letter

charge, an arc point

to incise the tongue

                  to split.


Poem “Finis” as JPEG:

Note on “Finis”: “The book, expansion of the letter, has to extract from it, directly…” At least that is what Stephane Mallarme thought in The Book, Spiritual Instrument, and it is only in those few words, that I am compelled to meditate on an idea of white spaces between words, letters discontinuing language, the page as fatality. But in the poem “Finis” i and j are sound-beings put to death by the paper, so instead of the book, it is the page not “extracting” but executing them. And I see letters like O and L inflecting specific intonations which create obstructing sounds or an almost choking like sensation. Perhaps that’s when the image of them begins to emerge concretely on the page, when enunciating a round vowel, when the corners of the mouth protrude inward, an image of taking in a last breath; the tongue in a dark L forced upward to the roof of the mouth and staying there, makes it difficult to breathe. Anyway, single letters exist as sound first, obviously, and when they are separated from words perhaps they expire quickly on the page?

Orlando White is originally from Tólikan, Arizona. He is Diné (Navajo) of the Naaneesht’ézhi Tábaahí (Zuni Water’s Edge Clan) and born for the Naakai Diné’e (Mexican Clan). He holds a BFA in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA from Brown University. His poems have appeared in Bombay Gin, The Florida Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Salt Hill Journal, Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics, Talking Stick Native Arts Quarterly and elsewhere. He has taught at Brown University, the Institute of American Indian Arts, The Art Center Design College, and has been a visiting writer at Colgate University and Naropa University’s summer writing program. Currently he is a writing professor at Diné College. He currently lives in Tsaile, Arizona. Bone Light (Red Hen Press, 2009) is his first book.