… though this map has been danced out for you before,
this may be the first time you realize where you’re going …
People~machines crushed by the invisible hand
take flight like warmed bees
propelled by the ethereal sound of live, improvised music
their winged shield holds, forms a third body
pain, invited into the light
burns into the nothingness of understanding
called forth by the sound of the Spheres,
each crumpled life, in turn, unfolds into the sweet heat
of loving kindness
each un-shuttered heart
the Soul in search
the delicate anther
Soul Work: The Story Behind the Poem
I went to hear a jazz trio on November 23, 2013. Near the end of the concert, round about
9:47pm, something magical happened. As the inventive musicians played in unusual ways
upon steel guitar, saxophone and upright bass, I suddenly felt that all the people in the room
were literally connected through the vibrations of sound.
I felt peaceful, safe and warm: like a bee at rest in a hive. I literally felt surrounded by soft
humming wings, and I felt a light wing drape over my shoulder. I felt protected. This insight
occurred in a flash, but the resonance of depth involved in this realization required more
This was a sound-based experience. This was a communal experience. It was nourishing. It
was invisible and non-quantifiable. In essence, this was a spiritual matter. And, as with all
spiritual matters, the mystery led to many questions.
A scientist might describe what happened to me as an auditory hallucination. An energy
healer may speak of my having found a “unified field.” Since I am a poet and bees are a
traditional symbol for the soul, I chose to work with poetry to help me make sense of this
dramatic and important moment in my life. This is how my poem, Incanto Incognito, came to
I started with research: bees use sound and dance to communicate. In some instances, bees
also generate sound during pollination practices inside the flower as they shake pollen loose
using rapid wing movement. Bees also use sound (piping) prior to swarming. (FYI: swarming
is usually non-aggressive and motivated by the need to split and relocate, due to the health
and growth of the group).
Like jazz musicians, artists and poets, bees use complex symbolic language in order to create,
live and thrive.
That’s why this particular moment at this particular jazz show felt so vital to me.
As the musicians explored improvisatory sound-play, I was transported by their giving spirit
into another realm of consciousness. I felt a tangible, though invisible, connection with
everyone in the room. This was sudden and stunning. Through the vibrancy of sound, I
moved into a peaceful state where I felt calm, safe and warm – literally protected by the
humming wings of those around me.
For a brief and powerful moment, I was literally a worker bee at rest in a hive.
This makes sense for me because Cornelia Street Café is a place where I go a lot to hear jazz
and poetry: a tangible place I visit to connect with others of like mind. I recharge and then
leave again to go out into a busy world of work and struggle. My relationship with Cornelia
Street Cafe is similar to that of worker bee with beehive.
That particular evening, Susan Alcorn, Ellery Eskelin, and Michael Formanek led listeners
into a place of strength and beauty and empowerment. I carry their spirit with me to this day.
So touched, we touch others—it’s a matter of soul. The CD of the music I heard is available
Bio: When Monique Avakian was 10, she really thought that if she just focused in hard
enough she would be able fly like a witch through the night. Magical objects such as
a broken watch with a cracked face or a tiny fistful of fake diamonds were key to
such endeavors. It never seemed to occur to her that the basement was perhaps not
the ideal locale for such experiments. Monique regularly travels through time and
space via poetry, her vehicle of choice now for nearly five decades. Monique also
runs poetry workshops, writes jazz articles and is the founding curator of a
multi-media online literary zine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One thought on “Incanto Incognito, A Poem by Monique Avakian”
Reblogged this on Monava9’s Blog and commented:
I am pleased to announce that Winged has posted my poem and prose explanation about how the improvised music of this trio lifted me into BEE consciousness ! :
Ellery Eskelin tenor sax http://home.earthlink.net/~eskelin/Site/Ellery%20Eskelin.html
Susan Alcorn pedal steel guitar
Michael Formanek upright bass
Their CD is available here: http://www.discogs.com/Ellery-Eskelin-Susan-Alcorn-Michael-Formanek-Mirage/release/5029698