Poetry: Janling Fu, Homecoming


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A song about homecoming1

Janling Fu


I was homeward bound2

Lost in windward flight unerring yet held aloft

And suspended in ecstatic transition3

In liminal space4 we are circumscribed

Never landing until we are home5

Til we touched sacred earth6 and felt

Its strange, foreign identity7

Alterity it cried

Synthetically marked small packets

That struggle and morph

For reality in the lava-flowing of my beleaguered, whipped

Mind lashed in geometric categorization8

I;9 struggle howled vortices whisper into successive

Movements of a glass sea drop of worlds10

Felt ice warmed yawped11 my breath cracked

Its death shattered shards gasped12

Reaching innout13 space of apoplectic14 worlds

Reversed course in stitching rent souls15

The hypnotic dance of pulsing memory16

I shut recollecting open spaces17

interstitial in networked meanings18

I situate myself

avant nostal

gia19 in opposition



1 The song is a “song” about nostos,which is both a homecoming and a song about a homecoming.
2 Referencing the song by Simon and Garfunkel.
3 “Ecstatic” as a homecoming should be filled with ecstasy, and the joy of reconnection.
4 “Transition” and “liminal” here in reference to the categories of Victor Turner and Arnold van Gennep of separation, transition and reintegration; of course what is pointed to at least is reintegration, if one can reintegrate into the society of one’s past, or how one accomplishes this in the present.
5 The circumscribed nature refers to this space we inhabit clearly in the in-between. This should change when at last we should come “home”.
6 The moment of coming to home should “happen” once we touch the physical space of the sacred earth, sanctified by our mental associations. At the same time, our feelings of being “home” happen in “touch”, the emotional or physical touch of another individual.
7 But the earth is strange, it is “different” and in the category of “other”, defined by the postmodern term “alterity”.
8 The poem takes a step back. The problem lies not so much in physical but mental categories. Here, the prior categories or schemata that are used are found to be “synthetic” as mentally constructed and so not real. The process of distance or distancing leads to a further schematization in lapsed memory that becomes increasingly reductionist over time. The problem, or rather solution, would be through experiencing reality and thus, the adjustment of these categories.
9 The semi-colon is intentional marking a pause with its ungrammaticality meant to highlight its inherently unstable position, as Sappho does similarly, within Sappho 31.
10 I play here with the phrase “around the glassy sea”, referring to the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” and its imagery stemming from Revelation 4:6; 15:2, but instead condensing this formulation. Of course “sea” also plays with “glassy”. The following imagery continues to center around glass and ice.
11 The allusion is both to the film “Dead Poets Society” as well as the Walt Whitman poem “Song of Myself”.
12 The gasping corresponds with the physical exertion of the “yawp” and its assertion of identity. The similarity to “grasping” is used in the next line.
13Innout” stems both from the popular Western chain of burgers, but also fittingly describes the sense of in and out explosion and implosion of worlds that happens suddenly. The realization as decisive event is literally world-shattering.
14 Here both “apoplectic” but also “apocalyptic”.
15 One can suggest that souls have been rent open, and having been torn, require reintegration. The process of reintegration, started through the yawp in once frozen, thawed space, is nevertheless hindered by memory, and thus requires shutting.
16 It is the danger of memory that has itself been altered and which no longer approximates reality that must be ignored and so, shut.
17 Recollection here has nuances both of the active process of re-collecting as well as of its associations with memory. This process is nevertheless different than Kierkegaard’s understanding of recollection in Repetition. Instead of the patterns of the past, it is the “open” spac

es that will be knit together.
18 The language both here and below is explicitly “structural”, as we come to understand n

ot only by oppositions, but through networks of meaning. The new points b

y which we now orient ourselves, however, is in difference or put another way, the once empty spaces that the speaker weaves together to build identity.
19Avant nostalgia” is dual in meaning, both recalling the imperative “avant!” as in “stay away!” as well as its prepositional meaning of “before” nostalgia, taken in its sense of nostos (homecoming) + algea (pains). A stance against the nostalgic past allows at last for a homecoming that can only be determined by a rechoosing of personal space and connections and so a reformation of identity. In a sense, it is the creation of a new center and structures around oneself in recognition of the broken and forever lost past.