Kharis 

Kharis 

 

is this the last wrap

or the first

the first wrap was a tissue

of lies

‘oh i’m fine’

I used that wrap

over & over

until the tissue

was a layer

layer after layer of

‘oh i’m fine’

‘i don’t mind’

‘how can i make you happy’

 

walking away

rather than add another layer

hoping nothing had caught

no thread was snagged

on a expectation

an exception

on resurrecting love

 

I was protected

entombed by safety

by the fact

that all anyone wanted to hear

was ‘oh i’m fine’

‘this bandage solution will do’

‘you deserve to be fixed first’

 

bound tight

peering at life though the slits

surrendering to the weight of history

pushed along by an unquestioned past

by ritual expectations

controlled by the clasp of gauze

layer upon layer after layer

some turned to dust

some turned to scar

some turned to face the sun

reaching for release

 

decayed tissue 

dust motes settling in the moonlight

‘how can i make you happy?’

‘how can i unravel the book of life’

can i survive

without another layer

of this tissue

this scar tissue of lies

‘oh i’m fine’

This one was written October 2017 before I watched The Mummy (1959), then worked on the next day after I watched it. In the movie the resurrected Kharis sinks into a bottomless bog. He sees no wrong in what he has been done. His self-sacrifice is unquestioned while none of his victims acknowledges that the mummy may have any sense of self. Not that he gives anyone an opportunity to reason with him. He was ‘pushed along by an unquestioned past /by ritual expectations.’

The piece started with that image of bandages as a tissue of lies. The prime lie being the self-sacrifice lie ‘oh i’m fine’ which come out of ‘the weight of history.’  Culturally men are to keep their real emotions, except anger, under wraps. Questioning the history is to cast doubt on one’s real manhood. It is better to sacrifice than surrender.

It’s so easy for people to accept ‘i’m fine’ without questioning it. Kharis is a man sacrificed to protect the princess he loved. He is a type of zombie compelling by spiritual forces not by his own mind. Not questioning our male history makes many men into zombies fulfilling the prophecy of male stoicism.

I play with metaphorical bandage images through the piece twisting them round each other the way a mummy is wrapped to point where one no longer knows who is actually under those bandages. We never see the ‘naked’ man only his eyes through the slits – a sort of tunnel vision.

There are some direct references to the 1959 film as well – there is a ritual to resurrect Kharis, it is read from the book of life, he then hopes to resurrect the princess, his one true love. This hetero love is found in nearly every variation of The Mummy – of course the hero’s fiancee always looks like the dead princess etc. All caught in a powerful plot devise nearly as confining as the layers of wrappings.

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The Mummy

Kharis 

is this the last wrap

or the first

the first wrap was a tissue

of lies

‘oh i’m fine’

I used that wrap

over & over

until the tissue

was a layer after layer of

‘oh i’m fine’

‘i don’t mind’

‘how can i make you happy’

 

walking away

rather than add another layer

hoping no thread was snagged

on a expectation

an exception

on resurrecting love

 

I was protected

entombed by safety

by the fact

that all anyone wanted to hear

was ‘oh i’m fine’

‘this bandage solution will do’

‘you deserve to be fixed first’

 

bound tight

peering at life though the slits

surrendered to the weight of history

pushed along by an unquestioned past

by ritual expectations

controlled by the clasp of gauze

layer upon layer after layer

some turned to dust

some turned to scar

some turned to face the moon

reaching for release

 

decayed tissue 

dust motes settling in the moonlight

‘how can i make you happy?’

‘how can i unravel the book of life’

can i survive

without another layer

of this tissue

this scar tissue of lies

‘oh i’m fine’

This piece was inspired by both the phrase ‘tissue of lies’ and seeing Christopher Lee in ‘The Mummy’ 1959 – that was on TCM. The essence of the story is a man so in love he can’t stay dead. I saw it as an allegory for the notions we get wrapped up by our culture about what love means. How those wrappings confine rather than preserve and yet many persist in putting them on voluntarily.

There’s also reference to the ‘bandage solution’ in which the apology is supposed to be absolution that lets one off the hook. ‘I’m sorry for queer bashing you so please don’t send me to jail.’ Enough layers of ‘sorry’ and guilt gets buried.Here too I see the bandages as those things we say to placate others while we hide our real feelings – ‘I’m fine’ rather that ‘I’m fucking angry.’ 

In the Lee film there is The Scroll of Life that brings the Mummy to life – no moonlight tanna leaves in this version – one ritual has to be performed moonlight etc. The power of the word replaces the mystic of plants. The Mummy’s drive to protect and make happy the princess & goes about it blind to any damage left in his wake. 

Masculinity can be like layers of bandage, traditions & cultural expectation that men find themselves compelled to fulfill – a weight of history & unquestioned pasts that like the ending of The Mummy drowns men in a swamp of ‘oh i’m fine.’ Is masculinity a better option than admitting that entitlement can’t unravel the Scroll of Life. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice-cream in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet