Archive for February, 2010

Sobriquet, Pseudonym, Cephalopod

February 28, 2010

What they don’t know, of course,
is that you don’t fuck with the Hammer.
The Hammer smiles, you smile, you wave the truck
ahead. It’s pretty simple,
for poetry does not make assertions;
philosophy does. When the Hammer speaks,
he speaks of something wild.  You stop your world,
the phony one, the constructed one. It stops
and stops and stops—

I force open the lock, let in the sun.
The Hammer and I confront synaptic death
each day we live. What’s left is fire now.
‘Welcome to the Republic of the Sane.’
I smile and let the fresh air fill
the cabin, fill their lungs. The Seine is just
a river in France, right? I smile and say,
‘The hard part is over.’—though we all know
it isn’t. I tell them, ‘Wallace Stevens
once lived in this house’—though he didn’t.
Let be be finale of seem, I quote. I speak
with care. This is the current reply: The only
Emperor is the Emperor of ice cream.

We hold our arms heaven-ward, like
we are angels in heaven. Since it’s winter
I have a fire burning in the fireplace.
The kids can have a bedroom to themselves,
upstairs. There is hot water, take a bath…

‘In transit to the blank planet,’ I say.
‘That’s your answer: where we are, a point,
circumference points, vectors maybe,
an asymptotic self-description,
that’s the best answer to your question.’
We sit next to the fire
and listen to music. Tonight it’s Schubert,
Winterreise. I read a little from
The Hour of the Star. We talk about Adorno,
Emil Cioran, Gaston Bachelard, Chaucer.
We talk about poetic thinking. Is
the goal to have
an ultimate clarity or is
the poet’s mind composed of play
and speculation? I prevaricate,
I lie, deceive, evade. We open up
a decent bottle of port. The Hammer
has prepared calamari in a butter sauce.
There’s fresh pasta, fresh bread.
‘My friends, a toast,’ I say. They have to know.
‘Today’s word is vector, a vector like
ticks are for Lyme disease, mosquitoes for
malaria.’ The transmission of disease,
is that what humanity is? ‘Human
intelligence,’ I say, ‘may be the result
of a virus. It would explain a lot.’

Among the things we console ourselves with
I will put other people at the top.
I know, my dear, you tremble at the word
thing. ‘Think to say I and Thou’, you would say
were you here, were you still with me.
That people partake of Being as objects
is only part of the story. Well, perhaps, I err…
perhaps I do. One of the things I read
to the people who come across the line
is this from Clarice Lispector:
It must be said the girl is not conscious
of my presence. Were it otherwise she would
have someone to pray for and that would mean
salvation. But I am fully conscious
of her presence: through her I utter my cry
of horror to existence. To this
existence I love so dearly.
It is very beautiful, is it not?

all that arises is

February 22, 2010

what is absent
what seems lost
what we are we think
all that we are
arises with our thoughts
troglodyte culture has
arisen from the slimy mass
like blastocyst has arisen into
a full-fledged fetus
not to be born is the best for man
the desires of the heart
are as crooked as corkscrews
dance, dance while you can


what seems lost
is that we are
a blastocyst about to rise
into a fully fledged fetus
and all that arises
arises with our thoughts
troglodyte culture has arisen
the desires of the heart
arise with our thoughts
not to be born is best for man
we are what is absent
dance while you can


all that arises are
the desires of the heart
and while we are what we think
troglodyte culture has risen
like a blastocyst
into a full-fledged fetus
we have come to rise as corkscrews
the desires of the heart is our desire
not to be born—though anomalous—
still might be the best for man
all that arises arises with our thoughts
what seems lost is what is absent
we are corkscrews
we are what arose absent arisen
we are what is
all that arises is

The Hunters in the Snow

February 19, 2010

The tracks left in the snow: as footprints, as
a path, a puzzle—for the dogs do not catch scent
of what we see. It’s faint, it’s true, that trail
the rabbit left, a rabbit of slight sounds,
faint scents—faint, but still of the earth—
slight, but you must hear it so clear the heart
is torn—a making of new tracks, new prints,
for it’s winter now, and the world in winter
can be a time for starving…

The painting is a famous one, Pieter Brueghel’s
The Hunters in the Snow. We look down on
the hunters and their dogs, at what must be
a blacksmith’s shop along the rim, a forge—
is the world a poem? Step down into that white
wet snow for a moment. It’s getting dark,
isn’t it? When you walk in the woods you need
to watch each step. Beauty is like that too.
Each step you take for granted can force death
from the raw earth. No one wants that.
The battleground is far too beautiful…

The poets love this picture. Picture William
Carlos Williams and John Berryman,
Walter de la Mere—there could be more—
all standing, talking, alone, attentive,
in the Kunsthistorisches Museum,
each smiling, frowning, gesticulating,
building a poem, describing what they see,
as if all poetry were for the blind—
as if our eyes need an education.
It’s winter; note the icy mountains;
note that dangling sign outside the inn.
The inn! My blacksmith shop is an inn!
—Watch the birds! Watch the trees!—
These poets, they never stop. These poems, they
never give up. It’s like a child
in a state of grace…

So is the world a poem? Something in this
picture demands it so. The ice? The snow?
Creation countermands human analysis.
Like it’s as if time could be one of those
children skating off in the distance,
a child that’s keeping to himself, on skates
too big for his own feet, cutting a long icy arc,
a child to peer down from some place
impossible, impossible though that is.
It’s like a child leaving an icy trace across
a frozen pond, etching signs that we hunters
do not choose to see. It’s like that rabbit
we left up on the ridge today, who is still
at home tonight, safe and warm, I’d like to think—
safe in some burrow, down in the earth—
but maybe this is the last time for him,
maybe this is his last night.
It’s like that, you know,
what is absent…

Not This Sun

February 10, 2010

Late style is what happens when art does not abdicate its rights in favor of reality.
—Edward Said

There, we did it again. We ate the sun.
This time at 5: 23, pm—standard time,
but later than yesterday, wintertime.
The trick is, of course, to surround it, first,
With clouds, and second, pierce its light—drag it
To earth where it belongs—where the dogs
Can go fetch…

For this sun is a private sun, of course,
Not the big major domo of the sky.
It’s not, you know, part of the origins,
Not by a long shot. Ergo,
There’s nothing metaphysical about
Its light, no metaphor in its shadow.
The horizon is your friend, my friend,
That’s all. The day, sub specie aeternitatis
understood as such—will remain in place.

And sub rosa: for now, we are the earth—
The very earth that speaks across the eons,
The earth that speaks to distant planets
With similar plans for similar suns.
We are like hungry children,
The hungry boys who pause and wait.
The ice and snow will come, you know—
And they know it too.

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