the page endures

May 12, 2014 § 2 Comments

The wind had the effect of making a jumble of things.
Sixes flipped into nines, nines resigned to sixes;
zeroes always the same.

Addresses renumbered or reduced to Cyrillic-seeming gibberish.
What to do when numbers fail us? When jotted notes,
memorials to memories since passed, don’t match the present?

We write these things down for a reason:
because reason survives the breath of thought
easier than the gusts of a gale;

the page endures even when its sense is as scattered
as letters, blown from a desk as correspondence
to the floor as characters.

like a honeymoon suite

April 15, 2014 § 1 Comment

Autumn fell into winter quicker than the leaves to the ground,
shaken from trees by a seasonable urgency like few could recall.

Winds that had upturned collars and hiked skirts outside shops
broke branches in the park as a bully might twiggy arms.

A pop overhead, and you had time to run for cover;
a crack, just a moment to curse.

Earth and leaf were chased in circles,
until they mound in heaps along walls and fences.

Office windows shut fast rattled erratically in their frames,
sounding an unscored composition unfit for dance.

But the city, from top to toe,
it swayed,

and the homes,
they moaned and creaked,

like a honeymoon suite.

“triangle of modest jubilation”

March 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

I am thoroughly enjoying Cees Nooteboom’s recent translated collection of poems, Light Everywhere, and suspect many of you may as well.

From “the deception of seeing”:

They are monks

in the service of my

monastery,

never again

will the colors

leave their posts.
I am their

exhausting,

murderous

angel

with my single-

mouthed

voices,

my prized

violence.


 

From “Wallace Stevens”:

For you, no dream between
poetry and reality,
you rejected the story
of the sun as a god
that eclipsed the sun itself,
that was just a seduction, fuss and bother,
abduction from this sole existence,
this one time, here, now,
on the coincidental planet.

You were heavy of body, heavy in your slow and driving
fluent verse, and yet,
hoyo, roucou, tom-tom
Canon Aspirin and Nanzia Nunzio
hoobla, hoobla, how
with your French frills
between the sections,
triangle of modest jubilation
around the continuous bass
of the meditative bumblebee.

Your law is marble:
your highest fabrication,
writ line by buzzing line
your mundo for you alone,
now ours,
reality, always dressed
in a different thought
and only whole as a poem.

“and the wind whipped my throat”

March 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

Photo by Yvette Depaepe

Photo by Yvette Depaepe

So I Said

“and dense vegetation of desire, nothing between”

March 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

scientists plunge into matter looking for the
matter but the matter lessens and, looked too

far into, expands away: it was insubstantial all
along; that is, boulders bestir; they

are “alive” with motion and space: there is a
riddling reality where real hands grasp each

other in the muff but toward both extremes the
reality wears out, wears thing, becomes a reality

“realityless”: this is satisfactory, providing
permanent movement and staying, providing the

stratum essential with an essential air, the
poles thick and think, the middles, at interchange:

the spreader rakes a furrow open and lights a
drying edge: a priestly plume rises, a signal, smoke

like flies intermediating between orange peel
and buzzing blur: is a poem about garbage garbage

or will this abstract, hollow junk seem beautiful
and necessary as just another offering to the

high assimilations: (that means up on top where
the smoke is; the incinerations of sin,

corruption, misconstruction pass through the
purification of flame:) old deck chairs,

crippled aluminum lawn chairs, lemon crates
with busted slats or hinges, strollers with

whacking or spinningly idle wheels: stub ends
of hot dogs: clumps go out; rain sulls deep

coals; wind slams flickers so flat they lose
the upstanding of updraft and stifle to white

lingo–but oh, oh, in a sense, and in an
intention, the burning’s forever, O eternal

flame, principle of the universe, without which
mere heaviness and gray rust prevail: dance

peopling the centers and distances, the faraway
galactic slurs even, luminescences, plasmas,

those burns, the same principle: but here on
the heights, terns and flies avoid the closet

precincts of flames, the terrifying transformations,
the disappearances of anything of interest,

morsel, gobbet, trace of maple syrop, fat
worm: addling intensity at the center

where only special clothes and designated
offices allay the risk, the pure center: but

down, down on the lowest appropinquations, the
laborsome, loaded vessels whine like sails in

too much wind up the long ledges, the whines
a harmony, singing away the end of the world

or spelling it in, a monstrous surrounding of
gathering–the putrid, the castoff, the used,

the mucked up–all arriving, for final assessment,
for the toting up in tonnage, the separations

of wet and dry, returnable and gone for good:
the sanctifications, the burn-throughs, ash free

merely a permanent twang of light, a dwelling
music, remaining: how to be blessed are mechanisms,

procedures that carry such changes! the
garbage spreader gets off his bulldozer and

approaches the fire: he stares into it as into
eternity, the burning edge of beginning and

ending, the catalyst of going and becoming,
and all thoughts of his paycheck and beerbelly,

even all thoughts of his house and family and
the long way he has to come to be worthy of his

watch, fall away, and he stands in the presence
of the momentarily everlasting, the air about

him sacrosanct, purged of the crawling vines
and dense vegetation of desire, nothing between

perception and consequence here: the arctic
terns move away from the still machine and

light strikes their wings in round, a fluttering,
a whirling rose of wings, and it seems that

terns’ slender wings and finely-tipped
tails look so airy and yet so capable that they

must have been designed after angels or angels
after them: the lizard family produced man in

the winged air! man as what he might be or might
have been, neuter, guileless, a feathery hymn:

the bulldozer man picks up a red bottle that
turns purple, sung drunk, the singing

not even puzzled when he tosses the bottle way
down the slopes, the still air being flown in

in the bottle even as the bottle dives through
the air! the bulldozer man thinks about that

and concludes that everything is marvelous, what
he should conclude and what everything is: on

the deepdown slopes, he realizes, the light
inside the bottle will, over the weeks, change

the yellowjackets, unharmed, having left lost,
not an aromatic vapor of wine left, the air

percolating into and out of the  neck as the sun’s
heat rises and falls: all is one, one all:

hallelujah: he gets back up on his bulldozer
and shaking his locks backs the bulldozer up

– A. R. Ammons, from Garbage

“I was a word, therefore I was”

March 9, 2014 § 4 Comments

So he would die as a disturbance. That was probably proper, but it was proper only when put this way, rather than another, which was something Magus Tabor had taught me: wait for the words, he’d say, and then you’ll know what is going on; wait for the words, they will betray their occasion without a qualm; wait for the words, when their objects will become real, turn real as a face turns red with the realization they are being said; don’t deal with the unnamed, they are without signification; remember, to be is to be enunciated—said, sung, shouted—to be syllabated; I was a word, therefore I was; and while I was a word, brief as a breath, held in the head or sustained on paper, prolonged in print, bound as a book, I was like licketty,  you understand, like a term on one of the tablets of the gods, like lights made of stars flicked on and off to say: here I am, I’m stage, I’m song, I’m printed on the ticket; so Tabor could die in a thousand descriptions, although each way only once: once as a disturbance, once as a sign from the gods, once as a penalty, once to signify the unfairness of fundamental things, once to be symbolic of his soul’s strife, once to remind me of what he taught, once to be simply another number in the census of the dead that day, the day—evening, midnight, dawn—he did it—it did it—died.

– William. H. Gass, The Tunnel

“But the sun has come home drunk from the sea,”

February 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

Two Hangovers

Number One

I slouch in bed.
Beyond the streaked trees of my window,
All groves are bare.
Locusts and poplars change to unmarried women
Sorting slate from anthracite
Between railroad ties:
The yellow-bearded winter of the depression
Is still alive somewhere, an old man
Counting his collection of bottle caps
In a tarpaper shack under the cold trees
Of my grave.

I still feel half drunk,
And all those old women beyond my window
Are hunching toward the graveyard.

Drunk, mumbling Hungarian,
The sun staggers in,
And his big stupid face pitches
Into the stove.
For two hours I have been dreaming
Of green butterflies searching for diamonds
In coal seams;
And children chasing each other for a game
Through the hills of fresh graves.
But the sun has come home drunk from the sea,
And a sparrow outside
Sings of the Hanna Coal Co. and the dead moon.
The filaments of cold light bulbs tremble
In music like delicate birds.
Ah, turn it off.

Number Two:
I Try to Waken and Greet the World Once Again

In a pine tree,
A few yards away from my window sill,
A brilliant blue jay is springing up and down, up and down
On a branch.
I laugh, as I see him abandon himself
To entire delight, for he knows as well as I do,
That the branch will not break.

– James Wright, The Branch Will Not Break

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