Going To Church (inspired by our president's walk of shame from the White House to the church) Like a BOSS I know where to pray on the mountain with the Babylon of rocks and boulders on vertiginous peaks Twisted Limber pines much older than me Flowers that no one else may see succulent white liquid petals, wet desert daisy tiny... pink... stamens (sparkling eyes) drowning in the vast crown Rooted in dry gravelly ground Short-stemmed like me Cutting every corner to conserve energy for the grand, miniature display My heart is rejoicing automatically Holy people praying on TV The virus is culling our weak Be a humanist and take care of the herd because we all have our turn to die The Bishop is in a hurry The Rabbi is pedantic and brief The Imam is rapping woke poetry, long relay races of chosen words You know who I preferred My god is nature I wander A sea of boulders rising in a swell, cradle isolated, contorted, short, oxygen-starved trees Granite corners, pink enclosed by black Shifting layers like petrified cake Broken, clefts everywhere The crack in Mummy’s skin is where the faeries live Small people in colourful clothes, hats, happy cartoons, garden gnomes in a receiving line I only feel them and the need to laugh when I come near I sit with them, sprawling in the pew The church is warm and protected in the gale Liquid black gold running down the side of a crevasse Twinkly granite under dark moss Shadows straining in the high altitude wind scouring the earth Not even big birds are out The sun is close, will these wings melt before I bring the benediction back to my herd -Celia Quinn
The Two Percent
Sadistic sociopath Streets and alleys bleed across my adopted country The Black man can't breathe Centuries of slavery make the blood runbouncing over jagged rocks I feel its legacy in every Black pulse people now assumed free The rough run of fluid in veins traumatized for generations My Appalachian heart distilled in the North country, running from the violence nurtured on Assassin's Hill A successful white immigrant brought down by comorbidities of profound injury My pulse is choppy too, the imprint of torture and murder resonating in the flow One American son moving corporate mountains to heal the heritage of Satanists and Nazis The other hand in hand with his love, where I could not be, wearing a gas mask, shot by rubber bullets, no lost eyes Left his gun at home and walked peacefully through the hemorrhaging streets because he is a patriot without a leader these long years I live without sleep I am the granddaughter of this man riveted by the face of suffering increasing and decreasing pressure alternately on MY neck, watching life fade in and out until the policeman, his brotherhood's two percent, was ready to end the game and see us ALL die Crying to his mother waiting on the other side Adieu to children here A torturer's focused face A limp body Family terrified into complacency - Celia Quinn
Latency is defined as the condition of being concealed. Our bodies render latent anything with which we choose not to deal. This includes those pesky colds and digestive influenzas that interfere with our ability to earn a whole paycheck. Most of us would rather tough it out than stay at home and allow ourselves the cleansing experience these minor illnesses provide. Unfortunately a lifetime of such behaviour adds up to an accumulation of toxicity that fills our holding areas. Often we start to encounter the overflow beginning at the age of forty. “Body only have forty-year warranty,” Shīfù Kenny Gong used to say. Recurrent joint pain, sinusitis and digestive problems are just a few of the symptoms indicating this has happened. Chronic issues build for a long time before they manifest. A lot of dross gets deposited first. A knowledgeable Chinese medical practitioner is able to cleanse pathogens from these areas of latency. An attentive doctor understands the appropriate time to hand the patient a mop and broom to clean the house that is her body. Someone who is already tired must build her energy first before tackling these Stygian stables.
Traumas that overwhelm a person’s rational thought are also put into latency but much more deeply. These are extraordinary events that defy our ability to process them. I am referring to misfortunes such as murder, incest, rape and physical or mental abuse. They challenge “the most basic civic, familial, and religious foundations of happiness.” (Storey, The Dante Encyclopedia, p. 306.) A person exposed to these kinds of betrayal at a very young age may not retrieve the memories until they are much older. The more profound the perfidy, the longer it takes to remember. Sometimes it is necessary for the abuser to die before the victim feels safe enough for absolution. It is never fair to prompt a person who has buried this kind of legacy. The memories will arise spontaneously when the victim is healthy enough to process them for the first time. Often they appear several years after retirement when the body has had time to recover from years of labour.
Extreme trauma is buried below the abyss. In acupuncture theory, this is the region referred to by a point on the inner ankle called Kidney 3 by English speakers or Tài Xī (太谿/溪), the Great Ravine, by Chinese speakers. The last character begins with the radical Xī meaning to bind:
It is composed of Zhăo, signifying claws or talons, which truss pathogens with silken threads, as a spider wraps his dinner:
The second radical is a valley or Gŭ, inferring as Dante wrote, that the disposal site is at the centre of the earth:
Ravine can also be written with the contracted water radical Shŭi because its flow carves them from the earth:
Representing water, the kidneys encompass our constitution or DNA. These experiences can induce certain gene sequences to turn on or off at this level. Tumours at a young age, whether benign or otherwise, can be an indication of this situation. Endometriosis at menarche might be an example. Early onset leukemia might be another. The offending article is so far beneath the surface, it is frozen. Think of an ice cube around a putrifying memory. This is the bottom ring of Dante Alighieri’s hell. His Inferno houses those who have challenged social stability at the expense of joy (see above). It is a deep place, at the centre of the earth. Lucifer is frozen in ice up to his chest, allowing each of his three heads to chew on one of the worst betrayers.
Below the abyss a person has no consciousness of the material buried there. It is like freezing garbage to cut down on the smell and, on a mountain, discourage bears. It is true, as in Dante’s telling, that it causes chronic pain akin to being a giant’s chew toy, like the hapless sinners in Lucifer’s three mouths. Cocytus or the river of wailing surrounds the last ring of hell. Any blockage down below creates one above in the head, as any good plumber knows (AKA Chinese medical practitioner). It is essential to have an upper air vent if one expects sewage to flow down. If one end is clogged, the other is too. Think of dipping a straw in liquid and putting your finger over the upper opening. When you lift the straw from the fluid it remains in the straw until you release your finger. An obstructed head causes foggy thinking from accumulated fluid, like a cloudy sky ready to rain. When Dante sees the huge wings of Lucifer, he describes just this state:
A far-off windmill turning its huge sails
when a thick fog begins to settle in,
or when the light begins to fade, 6
that is what I thought I saw appearing.
And the gusts of wind it stirred made me shrink back. 10
The wind Dante describes is what Chinese medicine calls internal wind. It arises from excess heat in the body, like the fire in hell’s upper rings. This is the heat that the body attempts to hold latent. Unresolved illness or trauma functions like decomposing organic material in an unturned compost pile. It gets hot in the centre! This, despite the cold packed around it. Internal wind provokes abnormal movement in those afflicted. Examples are tremours or the spasms of blood vessel walls that induce hypertension.
When we had moved far enough along the way
that my master thought the time had come to show me
the creature who was once so beautiful, 18
he stepped aside, and stopping me, announced:
“This is he, this is Dis; this is the place
that calls for all the courage you have in you.” 21
How chilled and nerveless, Reader, I felt then;
do not ask me – I cannot write about it –
there are no words to tell you how I felt. 24
I did not die – I was not living either!
try to imagine, if you can imagine,
me there, deprived of life and death at once. 27
These last stanzas chronicle the difficulty of confronting trauma that is devastating. They underscore the importance of patience until one is sufficiently healthy to face the truth. The death of beauty and hope sequestered in one’s being is shocking to behold! Dante also makes reference to the nervous system, which is affected more by in utero trauma. This may lead to illnesses such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis or cystic fibrosis.
The greatest artists, such as Dante, are clearly informed by the collective consciousness:
When we had reached the point exactly where
the thigh begins, right at the haunch’s curve,
my guide, with strain and force of every muscle, 78
turned his head toward the shaggy shanks of Dis
and grabbed the hair as if about to climb –
I thought that we were heading back to Hell. 81
“Hold tight, there is no other way,” he said,
panting, exhausted, “only by these stairs
can we leave behind the evil we have seen.” 84
Dante describes the location of an acupuncture point called Support Mountain or Chéng Fú (承 扶) where the thigh meets the buttocks. Two hands hold a seal, the kind stamped to close an envelope:
In this interpretation, they are retaining latent material. The area is cupped to release it (see celiadermont.com to read about cupping). Chéng also refers to establishing order from the chaos created by internal wind. Being closest to heaven, the lungs perform this function in Chinese medicine. Fú also has the radical for hand and that for a man:
It takes a strong grip to maintain latency and hold up the mountain that is the body. The conservation of latency consumes a fair amount of energy. This last stanza describes what happens when we clear the lion’s share of our latency. Remember, it can take a long time, depending on our strength and its virulence. As the protagonist, Dante is ushered by the poet Virgil. A patient needs a wise facilitator in this challenging process. Choose prudently. In earlier stanzas Virgil explains to Dante that a great weight has been lifted from him:
“You think you’re still on the center’s other side,”
he said, “where first I grabbed the hairy worm
of rottenness that pierces the earth’s core; 108
and you were there as long as I moved downward
but, when I turned myself, you passed the point
to which all weight from every part is drawn. 111
The sensory orifices open in the head, which gives us more clarity. Our eyes are no longer shrouded by the experiences of the past. We see heaven because the stars shine from its black canopy the way our eyes do from their sockets. Each day arrives as if we are newborn to the planet. It is easier to fulfill our potential and our destiny without the burden of latency.
We climbed, he first and I behind, until,
through a small round opening ahead of us
I saw the lovely things the heavens hold, 138
and we came out to see once more the stars.
All quotes are from Canto XXXIV of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno translated by Mark Musa.
I am not ready to put my burden down
the wind blows through pines
I want to more than anything
sounding a seashell
I am tired with the weight on my body
clouds of yellow pine pollen drift
I feel my great grandmother’s despair
as if puffed from a smoker’s mouth
at being alive and so old that children die
it is high noon on the solstice at 5,000’
I have tried twice to ease my load
even the ducks sit in shade
my place in the world is taken
baby coots with translucent red beaks chirp for food
what remains will be a ward of the state
the house is planted on bedrock
undone and twice fifty-oned
it shimmies as one with the washer
my list of goals continues to expand
the floor stones tight as a drum head
I am beaten
underneath is the San Andreas fault