TOFU INK or Poetic Pilgrimage Installation



HOMOCAUST: Exhausting the Burning Stick:  Errant Celebration of Queering Pilgrimage Amidst Awakening with Rhizomatic Possibilities (an installation)

“Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road:” Walt Whitman.

Please see some of my poems below.

Funds will be used for travel expenses, film equipment and installation costs of the performance.  The pilgrimage will take place after covid.  Hopeful timeline is December 2021, Summer 2022 or December 2022.  The installation and performance will take place in Late 2022 or early 2023.

From November 1994 to April 1995, I walked as part of the Interfaith Pilgrimage for Peace and Life to commemorate the Anniversary of World War II, with the Japanese Buddhist order, Nipponzan-Myōhōji, organized by Brother Gyoshu Sasamori, from Oswiecim (Auschwitz), Poland to New Delhi, India, which also took me through, The Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Bosnia, Macedonia, Greece, Palestine, Gaza, Israel and Jordan. The Nipponzan-Myōhōji is a small Nichiren Buddhist order of about 1500 persons, including both monastics and lay persons founded by Nichidatsu Fujii. I learned of this pilgrimage from a campus newsletter my first year at Naropa University while I attended the MFA program in Writing and Poetics. The founders of the program, Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg were friends with Claude AnShin Thomas a Vietnam combat veteran turned Zen Buddhist monk, author, and speaker who brought the pilgrimage to their attention, with whom I walked. I arranged a semester abroad preparing independent study and a few months later off I went. I translated these experiences upon my return by writing a seventy two page poem about my pilgrimage. The poem, called The Terminus Register and the Cantor Articulations, ruminates on history, persecution, war, sexuality and poems which are titled by years from 1945 to 1995, from the ending of WWII, with the bombing of Hiroshima, to the Coda, which culminates at the end of the walk. The narrative inquiry explores the line of conflict between historic tragic brutality and the poetic act. Poetry does not come out looking good, or some Twentieth Century Theorists have said expressing poetry is an inadequate act after such atrocities as the Holocaust. For how to go on living after Holocaust? Can the poetic screams after horror transcend mass extermination, for the purpose of healing? Is that poetry’s job? The Terminus opens by taking “steps towards clarity” as a kind of directive, but quickly questions how inadequate poetry is to this task. The Terminus savage rituals state, “Poetry is not innocent, it is guilty, a confederacy, should admit itself so, it is nothing more than a reaction, poetic, a prerequisite for denial.” In the poem there is generosity, hospitality from the world. The poems are fragmented in juxtaposition, being inspired by the Language Poets and purposefully artless at times as in war; there is little to hang on to with hardly any landscapes, without houses, no flora and fauna; poems haunted by ghosts and victims more present than the living. Yet, once-in-a- while, tenderness appears. Through the fragmented bitter humanity, I reach for something sane. There is a romanticism that sees poets as hounded and neglected and persecuted which brings existential absurdity in contrast to historic catastrophe. Poetry may be inadequate, but that is far more honest than to pretend poetry can heal or cure or put an end to life’s devastation. However, Art ironically commands healing; a paradox indeed. Using this original poem as my jumping-off point or more as only a brainstormed framework, my literary work project shifts into a poetic narrative mutating through exploring memory, decolonizing, otherness, romanticization of the other, queering identity, the elicit and hidden in queer identity while abroad ending with Rhizomatic Possibilities. During my pilgrimage, phenomenologically uncertainties arose and my pieces address the phantasmagorical gems.  
My narrative inquiry contributes to new foundations in Queer, Feminist, Pilgrim and Para/Post-Critique Theories, along with my unique experiences while on the Interfaith Pilgrimage for Peace and Life that commemorated the Anniversary of World War II, that truly no one has ever written about, in these suggested formats and frameworks.  This 25th Anniversary commemoration will take me back to where it all began.  I am making an poetic video installation piece where I will be reading the poems I wrote about my walk/pilgrimage in the locations in which they are being written about.  I will retrace my steps and travel back through Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South Asia.  I will have a small film crew of two, with some equipment filming each reading at its location.  I will edit the piece for an Installation and poetry reading in hopes it will be published as well as travel the world to be seen and heard.  The filming will take place over a month’s time in Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Greece, Israel, Jordan and India.  Upon return, it will be edited into my life’s work.

My manuscript will be against authoritative theoretical dogma by finding new relationships with new language or “ways of seeing,” with stringent self critique while creating something new in the field of creative writing.  I read this as Dr. Evan Watkins calls the “heroic resistance to all social pressures,” by analyzing the defects and flaws of hegemony and synthesizing understanding into manifesting a new freedom in creativity. I am also inspired by Edouard Glissant’s Poetics of Relation theories of de-essentialing through exploring  errant rhizomatic possibilities. 

I have already written over 300 poems about my Pilgrimage and it would be the greatest honor to read and record these poems in the places they happened. Funds will be used for travel expenses, film equipment and installation costs of the performance.
PLEASE SHARE AND PASS IT ON! This year I am looking to fund a Poetic Installation of my work as well as present for the defense of my PhD dissertation-exegesis. This year I am looking to raise $10,000 for retracing my Pilgrimage for Peace and Life Commemorating WWII, where I walked around the world, 26 years ago. I will be revisiting (after Covid) Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South Asia where I will be making a film for my poetic installation and reading the poems I have created about those places, in those locations. Please help me fulfill my life long work. Any amount is appreciated! BRIAN
India 1995
I never wanted a home
nor a Lotus Sutra    
I am not a lotus eater   
a home
is a place
to hang
in etymological
a privilege
that is created
by language
by his unfeign’d
the red spittle
betel nut
Ganga heat
and Sadhu celibacies
we crammed
two of us
into one theater seat
to doom loop view
Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!
Indian flower’d garlands
lotus jasmine Ragamala
orange heavily
hung my welcome’d neck
is this my funeral
sewn in scented mala
pollinated bead mantras
un god’d in which I gallow
Raj Ghat
where Gandhi ash heap lay
the 14th Dalai Lama
encased by machine guns
and guttural sutras
I whispered a knife
as my palms
in his third eye
on China’s plateau
of self
while sanctifying
what glitters
moves immovably
a simplified universe
the most intense coppice
the sky
of the page
the midnight eludes
erecting language
out of rock
deserted history dissipated
smothered in misery
un learnt poetasters
abandon in its fervor
a poem
in my language
I understand you
the odor
of vagabonds
the ripening pods
that hang
the seed spit
considerable distances
to my expulsion

I am a citadel
the Baldwin house
peppermint set
in platinum 
still toiling
the sower
 ulcers come
a consultation
with dirt

Mathew Shepard
slumped scarecrow
for turkey vultures
his ripe fruit
palpated single leaf
bitter pit’d
on the hedgerow
a stranger 

I am a pilgrimaging
sacred space
I am
a hero
nor conquistador    
just a fallacious
queer map    
with trains
that went missing
he read
my palm
my moon line
is long
to the burning ghats
bodhi tree
with sounds
of Hindu Jazz
funeral procession
of life death cycles
in the twisted streets
as wide as sacred cows
with painted Sadhu bare asses
on the Ganga dunes
graduating in sandalwood
amongst the hollers
hashish change money
so nothing would fall
and I hibernate me
in this burning stick
never has nothing
meant more
in the immovability
of swarms
Qutb Minar
Vishnu iron enigma
pillar’d tightlipped
gravitate each shoulder
pashchima namaskarasana
to hand grasp behind
for eternal luck


with tenant
and pilgrim
the same exile
our circuits part naive
of our disavowal
not ruled
by history
of us


Brian Jacobs
Pasadena, CA

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