A Poetic Essay: Writing Love & Poetry with Cixous


Helene Cixous, the philosopher, writer, thinker, novelist, poet…one with the uncanny ability to grasp the impossible and poetically narrate newer possibilities.

As Derrida describes of her, “A poet-thinker, very much a poet and very much a thinker.”

She writes the kind of poetry that describes the conversant and then leaves one asking, “what just happened?”

Cixous writes,

“It is the places that make love.  Places and all their features.  For them to make love (and so that they might do so), the features must combine their forms, their different energies, and their properties in a whole whose total makes god.”

Poetry is poietic.  The mundane becomes the exotic.  Form and content blend in ways that seek an apocalyptically pristine constitution.

Something to deliver us from ourselves.

The more I see of the world the more I become convinced that the world will not be saved by those who can write prose and disseminate its smooth flat reality.  Such only leads to the nothing of no possibility.

What the world needs is the poet.  As poets perish, the stench of the corpse of our imagination begins to intrude into the spaces that are disguised as lively.

And we hear the gasps of death left in the vacuum of the dead poet.

Poetry lives among us and sees beyond us…it sees and feels the rhythmic beat of relationship and gives rolling hills and texture to Tom Friedman’s “Flat World.”

Poetry, as theory and praxis, is difficult.  Difficult because we no longer think poetically; we think matter-of-factly.

We no longer use words in which we may become lost.  In writing our words…we have lost them.

We no longer feel emotions that cannot be harnessed.  We commoditize our emotions through manipulation and consumption.

We see the world in the script of black and white (letters and reality).  When in actuality, reality may be best situated beneath the writing and beneath its margins…imagined in the places we cannot see because we cannot speak them.

Poetry is not merely the art of speaking and rhyme…

it is the very act of taking the actual path that has become grown over through time as we faintly see the footprints of daring poets whose footprints have left vague impressions in the dirt…

Hear Cixous:

“One can’t escape the hidden designs of God.  She has written everything down and we do not read.  We are read”

Cixous, writes and speaks…and she does so poetically.  It is a poetry not bereft of science or prose…but one that writes poetically in response to this world of cold hard surfaces.

She has met Lacan and yet she is still a poet.

She captivates the reader with simplicity in a world filled with complexity…making what is so familiar to us all, the language of love, distantly close.

I ran across one of her texts recently, a text that is as deep as it shallow and as profound as it is complex.

As a lover of the gospel, and its imaginative possibilities to love more deeply and thrive more fully, I embarked on her work “Love Itself: in the Letterbox.”  What I happened upon was the delicate and inter-relationality of continental theory, psychoanalysis, language and deep expressions of love for which I was little prepared.

This is a dangerous text.  It is shockingly simple.  It is infinitely iridescent.

If you want to think and feel the subjunctive character of what is so familiar, then read her.  She writes of the already and the not yet always already.

She makes the simple act of writing love letters, letters in the letterbox, an act of deep reflection and intuition.

She talks of love, its behavior, its appearance and its presence.  She speaks our language, with our language and is yet speaking of the act of writing love past our language.

She is the poet.

Here is the world.

The world does not drown our words…and therefore our interminable possibilities.  The words of the poet open up creation…giving us a new gospel of sorts.

Going to the letterbox, Cixous speaks with us, to us, for us and also past us…about that which is most salient in our lives, either in lack or in excess…the incarnation of this four letter word: L-O-V-E.

The problem with writing love is that it is the problem of writing us.

Our problems are beautiful.

Our humanity can be tragic, but that is what makes it lovely.

Just as Gospel attempts to reforge creation via love located in the depths of what we call God, it being the hearkening from out of our graves into a poetically imaginative and lively world, so poetry speaks words of creativity and new impossibilities into the dirt that attempts to bury our dreams and hide our morbid smell.

This conflict of life and death, of the as is, with the as it should/could be, is the task of poetry.

Poetry is the horribly beautiful description of that which we most long for…but for many of us remains remote.

She writes “love itself.”

She doesn’t create a new world as much as she sees the real world, where routine trips through our lives are given sharper focus and memories become conversation partners with our future.

Wherein our emotions become sensations, we feel with our sight, smell with our hands, and think with our heart.

Thus, in the Spirit of Cixous, I not only form this essay in her simple prose, but I write this short poem pursuant to her vision and to descry the absent presence of love…longing not for a world of continued non-rapport, but for a world were love itself and being itself can finally become one.

Love is Poetry, Poetry is Love

Cixous writes, “I was afraid you would always be there. I didn’t want to tell you that earlier.”

Have I not heard footsteps behind me?  Have I not imagined them as they approached?

I have seen you before.

Your Smile is familiar.  I knew it was there but I did not see it.

I was afraid of this day.  Hopeful it would come.  I have read this story before, even though it has not been written.

The speech that is spoken, I see your lips move, but I am unable to hear.

I see your breath in the foggy, misty morning, but I do not feel it upon my neck.

“I was afraid you would always be there. I didn’t want to tell you that earlier.”

Earlier has arrived later.  I delivered the letter.

The mailbox was empty.  The letterbox was not emptied but my letter did not remain.

I wonder if it was delivered.

What an undone world.  Tears roll down my cheeks.  They collect behind my ears.

The world is lonely.  I am surrounded by everyone.  But I am not surrounded by one.

“I was afraid you would always be there.”

Perfect love?  Gospel?

Love is a nomad that returns to my tongue and restores my despair.

I didn’t want to tell you.  But love casts out fear.

I keep writing love, love writing me.  The letterbox is cold.  It warms my hands.

I leave the letterbox solemnly.  Back through the fog, leaves crunching behind the smile I feel staring at me.

I look through the world.

I say to myself, “I was afraid you would always be there. I didn’t want to tell you that earlier.”

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