Suzanne Lummis

The Hypnosis Series

For Brendan Constantine 

I. The Beginning Hypnotist Writes Her First Poem

“It’s advisable that the budding hypnotist find
as many subjects as he can, so that he can more
quickly arrive at that stage of efficiency that will
mark him as an effective technician.”
– From Advanced Techniques of Hypnosis, pub. 1948

Out of the inaudible noise of news breaking
then breaking again, subdividing
with that crack or hiss of the drastic
only civilized fish hear,
and the wild ones (and turn
in their waters toward that sound),
this guidance destined for me
found me, a she, She
herself, the hypnotist in late bud.
(It’s nearly Fall.)
And though I’ve been marked by fate
and—who knows?—perhaps Doom
Imminente, and by the usual and irregular
suspects, I bear no mark
that denotes the effective technician.
Yet I know it’s advisable.
(Does this seem a bit stiff? Self-conscious? Go
easy, this is my first poem.)
O to find many subjects and convey them
toward some salt, sweet, unblasted
and pure region of matter
and mind, then command they embrace
that deep sea—more sea than “stage”
(I believe)– that sea always there,
never still, never new,
keeper of ancient news. O to follow them.
O to more quickly arrive.

II. The Beginning Hypnotist Takes Notes from the Lecture by the Master Hypnotist and Makes a Little Poem at the End

The Unconscious Mind loves opportunity,
symbols, metaphor and contradictions.

It does not love commands.
Do not try to boss it around.
Do not say Make me a vegetarian!

Make me remember to move my car
from the west side of the street!

The Unconscious Mind loves to solve problems,
but authority will be met with resistance.
It wants you to be “artfully vague.”

The Unconscious Mind grows plump
with unused resources, yet
it’s nimble and a bit of a trickster.

It loves a good joke.

It will succeed where you fail.

It knows more than you do.

The Unconscious Mind sings softly to herself
while you sleep, and by day
embraces her lonely knowledge.

III. The Beginning Hypnotist and Emerging Poet Tries the Mirror Technique

When entranced by a mirror,

a short time will seem long
         or the long, short.
         That flickering might be small
movements of your hand
that holds the hand mirror
         but will seem
         like wind startling the glass
as it would a smooth slice of lake.

The Unconscious will surface in one eye.

         Now it is here, with its love of symbols,
         and contradictions, with all its hoarded stuff,
both dark and shiny things.
Is that all there is?

         No. Below lies the Sub-Un—at first, a roar
         like an ascending wave, water breaking
off from the main, then lion-bodied
thing with a woman’s face
         asking that riddle of your life.
         It asks, pauses then asks
again, an echo turning back on itself.
And still, and disturbed—Unstill —
         you cannot reply with the answer.

And it’s you who is asking.

Advisory editor Suzanne Lummis’ poems have appeared in The Hudson Review, Antioch Review, Ploughshares, New Ohio Review, Plume, The American Journal of Poetry and The New Yorker.  Her most recent collection, Open 24 Hours, won the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize and was published by Lynx House Press in 2014. Previous full-length collections include In Danger (Roundhouse Press/Heyday Books) and Idiosyncrasies (Illuminati).  Suzanne edited Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Pacific Coast Poetry Series/Beyond Baroque Books), noted in The Los Angeles Times as one of The Ten Best Books of 2015.