in the difficulties of the rough seas of the passage--for that is what it was--a thing to be endured, but for the beauty of the powerful lunges of the dolphins seen from the deck a wildness in the seas, as wild as seas & natural, as we knew ourselves not in the blindered shuttered salon as the heart jumped when the rose & its fluted vase fell to the table after an untoward roll --untoward as the steel meaning unbending of the ship's prow or the rock's entrapment against which, a wild sea & wild dolphins... kinship & miscalculation
Didn't you say you loved me? under what conditions under what under what under what _________________ under the air @ 15 lbs per square inch on the roof on the safety-factored I-beams slipping down thru curtainwalls to the ground to gravitational bedrock accidental center: home * which we sailed from under black & glitter irony & smugness facing out on the frozen rocks of the universe the hard energy spectral pinpricks excitations given & received the pulsar's wavepeak falling from enormous source on the steel mesh of the antenna drowning the signal of the probe impaled on the far off planet whim & fantasy & power * the radio at sea the monstrous groans of the empty airwaves for two days midpoint Atlantic now to face ourselves amid the gush of plumbing the whirr of ventilators packing air into the cabin * My God what we felt one night on the deck of the NOVI the beat of engines thru her plates overhead the tenuous milk clouds their silent movements myriad possibilities concrete & eternal spaced as waves feel THIS she said, wanting desperately my participation awash in the bombarding cosmic rays in the mysterious cosmos itself on the heights of cause & being
1 Blaiberg's heart a way to keep modern? The thought fierce. Little trip hammer of a beat to plow a body thru that much more time and space at first there was a wobble a neutral, a scientific wobble simply a matter of fit 2 and later they make it fit-- O imagine the recessional as if time leapt back the way sun is seen at 6:00PM --a great red ball and a minute later on the world's rim distended by the thick waves of air the way we must seem from the point of view of the sun and at 7:00 all is dark 3 the aura I have made round you meaning you are its heart, its center is more than fleshing out is beauty the way frost coats a tree to the finest tendrils of its branchings O the delicacy of the image Tho neither you nor I are fragile the frost is-- it snaps or is defrosted at the end of a cycle 4 And in dream Barnard, white coat and stethescope an Aztec priest but a thief stealing what belongs to the Sun secreting it in the open swimming cavity after the stitches after the wipe-up after the groggy headache of anaesthesia someone would realize in what way it had been offered up 5 Via Cain or via Abel in what way if it happened it could kill you just hearing thump silence thump at night the panic of love and not love twisted round you 6 shaky heart bird its salt pulse: song that keeps one alive I love you. That I Ching of possibility which has been grasped then pulled beyond me till it is no longer me nor you 7 a flutter a seizure; thick fibres that contract a bird crushed in a cage of tissue and fluids--the heart sac how many Medieval men saw the heart? how many see the unneutral heart of Arts and Letters 8 at what end of what thing do the names of the Gods change from ennui of loneliness There isn't anything we can't do now not one thing a wall is a wall and what of a wall Have you ever seen them harvest wheat? The scythe death of wheat?
meeting you or meeting anyone I am sick with my own clumsiness the clumsiness Nietzsche cried against tending that corpse all night --his fallen brother-- who he set in the hollow of a tree that wolves not savage it & at dawn Nietzsche woke & left the dead shedding artifice & artifice as he walked from the woods to be wolfish then among men roaming their darkness... yet each night dreaming of him in the log --by now sheer putrience seeping to the roots & was glad so natural a thing became man tho likewise, it filled him with terror... so the dream went ... & tho free of the forest each morning Nietzsche woke & despaired how stubbed in that dream his arms had become how thick the neck & bent low by him who he carried boned in his chest, thinking this must be the world on my back but it is only my dead brother & which hung in him awkward & pained dumb & stupid with anyone this despite the glad thing he had seen its death to be he who had put himself away from wolves where now fear held him wanting to speak to & embrace whom he met from the body that was his not the one yet to bury
* sometimes I am beside a woman who holds my life I stand in the dark over the soft curve of her back and want to touch it * three years straining weights latissimus dorsi called them `lats', `bat's wings' in pain and fury screaming out punching the barbell murderously at the ceiling outer tissue ruptured a soreness as muscle rebuilt itself harder, thicker impacting anger wanting to make myself attractive to women and stronger * that madness locked there now. don't ever touch. between my shoulder blades bands of bunched humiliation. in Spain when I saw the sword enter the bull's hump I relaxed watched his harrassed death abstractly focusing on the rhythmic jets of blood from his nostrils why do I think of my cock emptying in you I want to die fucking you and almost do * once a bull chased me up a road in Peekskill. I was seven years old. the next day fenced in the pasture he stood patiently by the boards as I jeered: `die, die, die' * cap-pistol wars later a crowd & field shrunk to the ribbing of a thigh pad to the bone grunt of hip thrown at his middle & past the eyes banks of light jet and skimmer & both go down a point reached at which you are just inside your skin what are you doing? * chinashop life I set my head between shoulders: bull dog an All-American stance goring the Green Bay Packer thru a film of red the Asian's unpadded belly look and smell of his entrails driving me wild America: you Brahma & rodeo roped together I remember mounting her from behind blind rage kicking down the slats of my body * he put his horn into the barrio & flipped a plank across the sand, his unsureness became his madness sweet to let those juices flow 'we are at the beginning of a radical depopulation of the earth' we've buggered the world with our impossible anger hunched over you I just don't know if I love or hate *
in the silvered depths the figure in continuous time the fact of image flung in photons into the moment and fixed a danger apparent danger there in the emulsion is the figure at its back a wall and on the wall its shadow bending deeper into the film some other at some other labor bearing the burden of its darkness and its death that the forward looking face might rise from
writing of the great light of cities and would hope these things might be changed by the power of an idiom as in the film the spy switches the bulb to photograph the secret plans as the words all go toward the sight of secrets though these are entropic times and those bright clusters in our lives in their rot are black bodies and absorb it all, absorb it all like a woman on one's bed who cannot bear the light
The language of New York has changed a bar & restaurant scene to two women talking of lovers black & white, liberal lovers. She says she saw a man on the street roughly of his features and mistook the man for him but that the man was not his color. She says to her friend, she is color blind, she says she knows all about him. * He: a hunched back & boiling red face; beside she: small & shriveled. Both in the booth, their ugliness uglier for their awareness. This couple getting thru the world. A fact imaging a deeper fact. As with only the weight of notes the song is dragged down thereby amid detritus & effluvia. Against the sweetness of creation attitudes are posed because it drives back to the core thru all the secret lives dreamt of, rancorous & jealous of what is incomplete or unfulfilled overwhelming the music unless love saves it. * History is a joke. Personal history: unfunny. Knowing everyone to be serious when sick & banging on the bed for some stranger, but that he should be like ourselves. & come get drunk or delirious, falling into someone resembles us. On this, the heart realizes itself meaningless--its words have moved off beyond their meanings, as in the music, the whorls of sound are an eternal trope--an eternal equivalency. Not to be admitted to my world--I come to his.
1 suppose I should look down there for a woman yet find nothing more intimate than murder or bored children playing a game of hopscotch in the streets or in the heat, the close-packed buildings, blurred and shimmering waiting with my fellow citizens for the rain which summer brings running down the skin its coolness comes in time time to stave off disaster and its taste commingled with my own salt older than any word on my tongue 2 she brought me a piece of coral I placed it on the desk I examined the wondrous bleached ribbings the delicate housings of millespores I imagined the sea, its enveloping wetness... 3 throughout time these aggregates clusters of protozoa in the primal slime cells having multiplied beyond calculation secrete the porous calc the hardened branchings and flowerings that surround them and there too, new dwellers have come and gone swish swash the sea sounds over them holding and nourishing . . . 4 breeding feeding mutating survivals threads visible and invisible that form a web the many tied to one --that singular complex which is the secret of the sea so it is the oldest time I speak of and all which touches us up from that phylum, eons as of the leaves of trees for centuries falling to the earth the billions of shapes the waves have taken all of which has touched us --to try and touch it back-- yet, to be precise we've lost that way and what is left us is the taste for salt on one's food or a tepid bath some four flights up 5 and the hierarchies of hungers have been reordered and that is how things are not just a pessimism of the self but a terror of each other and the warm saline --as of the birth sac still a dream some thought of fluid which still lingers but from all which has been feared and suffered, all that we have done to each other, one comes to want no more no more than more of oneself and seeks there for reasons of what has transpired so that the true means of Okeanos may again lead outward from the skin 6 she gave me a piece of coral it was snow-white antique white the white of cities it is said the antique Venus ruled the coral, the harmony of its construction an after-image of primitive life and beyond that time living perhaps beyond the love of it certainly beyond the love of many we are together on these shores breaking and drowning in the surf of these cities with an ache for water
1 in a tissue of dusty air over dry impoverished fields no plow can break rock pitted fields on which crops of men have had their backs broken we pick ourselves across crablike under the sun 2 the cities the desolations of war fought for women or fine goods are human if unreasonable but this stone set in stone -accursed- until a mile into its center an aureole of rank vegetation around an immense reverberating recess 3 he who has come to drink & goes as we come is my brother in our human need 4 I was not thirsty but craned my head past the wet stones, the world of elaborate detail & imagery-- what thunder into darkness I looked into darkness I looked and was happily blind
for Verna & Brad Graves Bradley's Bar after Gorky's eye. Walking from the subway in the slush then this warm brown paneled wood this few people, instants, to fall into this clinging . . . with its mirror above the bar below which people sit & drink looking up into the glass staring down each other . . . Gorky's eye: the orbit dark which looks out into the world--this eye of all, chosen to see from . . . Before the long sheets of plate glass give back reflections a coating of silver .001 inch thick is applied The coating adds no appreciable strength to the glass . . . The world thinner than a fingernail in the mirror, but have you ever tried to grab thru glass? . . . In a glance, judged & judging with only the strength of a glance: the power of a beacon on a rocky coast or a killer's flashlight in a dark room . . . What reality he had hold of was not enough To move from one way of seeing the world to another incurs risk What suffices for me, not necessarily enough for him In the changing work, a distinct sound of breaking glass . . . Some feed thru the face Some feed on the face Some feed on the broken, the split-- open face Some are not fed at all . . . Art reflects lifep Sometimes it is watching a mirror-- one's own reflection-- smash to the floor . . . He wrote, "all the things I haven't got are God to me" . . . It is our look It is our concern The iron of the Other in the silvered glass To be unable to move To have to remain To hope to be transfixed There are ten panels in the mirror Different people in different panels They edge nervously one to the next There are segments in the armor of man. At each one love may have stopped The energy flows from head to pelvis & "love shines in her . . ." . . . Gorky's eye, the one shaded dark facing out of the drawing trembling, vulnerable. . . . . . Outside it is snowing I drink down my scotch savoring its smoky taste not wanting to go by myself I scan the mirror Neither love nor hate are seen Only the most savage need Only my face The street dark at my back The thinking how lonely an eye gets wanting a loved thing to see & seeing nothing himself or itself
for Karen solitary park solitary benchers still air, still branches the green footage stopped --matter, call it matter perceived as light, corpuscles of light in the "little hole of the eye. . ." Delaunay, the painter, prepared his materials in a darkened room then drilled a pinhole in the shutter a ray of sunlight studied for months `reaching sources of emotion beyond the limits of all subject matter' people in the park: a beautiful woman who tells me of Coleridge's line: "alone, alone, all, all alone" a woman's face known to me by photons photons burnt onto a photographic plate in the image of the suspected Viet-Cong his head blown outward by a bullet look in a mirror, try to frame that face over your face. . . & what are death, or photons, or turns the mind makes shuffling its deck of images try to feel the photons the photons that move thru the mind "beyond the limits of all subject matter" a name for an abstraction or substance, travelling singly & in packets that impinge on thought or are thought certainly the granular shapes, dots, etc. . . to know something solid impedes the flow of something not solid & what flows between two hunks of living flesh is not imaginary just not known unless one sends a bullet into another & the images collapse for death takes in no picture but in love the eyes meet upon one double string the wherefore barely known the hint is that we come apart and come together & are focused in the other's heart & the print on the mind more real than a summer's day & we see what we can but thru it often until the film stops as at 4:21 PM , I stopped one film, the film of the dream to begin another separate & distinct as the people caught or fixed on park benches not necessarily looking at, or seeing each other each frame isolate as their lives are but a lonely gesture to the next
say I wanted you in that room on that cold clear night & couldn't have you say I looked at the stars say there was love in the sky but it wasn't enough --a young woman, a Dane, tells me of 5 years drifting in the US, of a shack-up under cloudless prairie skies looking past her lover`s shoulders at the height of it her eye caught the fine stellar dust sparking in the upper air in long luminous tendrils & she suffered then a terrible kind of peace & estrangement what she meant was: on the star map there were forms in dotted lines inked round the clusters: Casseopia Andromeda or that one might see for himself in the far-flung galactic arms images of women, the nebulae's vaginal whorls or in the "black holes" the sex of the universe itself an old, an untrue relevance but that one knew they were always out or nowhere vivid & trembling, but out --though of hurt or wound there was no escape no need to look nor hope to find a sweet elysium of astral tides lifting lovers to their wants the world's sore wants that nakedly confront --but in star-light star-crust diadem out which being looks hidden behind Heraclitian signs they were small & gathered on the silvered glass break it, break it into discourse & pleasure focus & delight or there was nothing . . . but that the eye, until one got used to it was nearly closed, & no one believed in the star on the reticle or its existence momentarily on the rods & cones or what is somehow touched by the mind tho between points they drew straight lines later to correct for curvature because space is, and curves around to let us pass from one property less void to another so they say & it is inhuman that I feel such loss & know the feeling of the vacuum. . . huddled on the planet huddled in need with eyes turned out so that they seem gathered on the lens piece gathered from the mirror poured from molten glass & cooled slowly for years a narrative in the glass, the narrative of ourselves never enough & the worlds & stars drift the computers give them meaning, meaning enough but the vacuum is unexplained say I loved you I did not wonder who we were neither the visible nor the invisible of what was meant. . . on Palomar & on Wilson in the cold air, the shining domes or the great dish-shaped nets hung across the Southern valleys I can imagine them in daylight or at midnight open as our arms are. . .
1 The duck drapes its head gracefully over its back. Then, after an instant in which its neck forms a supremely natural arch, slips its head silently under water, after which a percentage of the body follows. Ponge, who wrote of L'Huitre and un coquillage, is pleasantly evoked by the re-emergence of that part of the duck formerly submerged followed by the duck's bill in which there is a water-snail After some time the duck which has waddled onto the grass, or at least that part of the duck once wet, is again dry. 2 One does not come into being in the manner of a rock. That that manner is still a mystery does not disfigure the discrepancy. The rock, if it at some other time, was not this rock, had, at that other time, an equally enviable condition. That is, for itself it has no history. I imagine the repair or heal of all that is, i.e., Creation, to be the attainment of just such a similar state. Thus, to be occupied solely with one's own sense of presence which means to live without consequence. 3 Finding sense to change. Making form as from the last form. Being beast after amoeba. A panalopy of shapes hints at the processional. If things come, then go--as the Sage relates--a sense of passage stays the purely inevitable. Certainly the mind in its final shape will efface history by finding an ability to neatly end itself. 4 Looked at from a scientific view- point: do not imagine, do not represent for yourself, but acquire the qualities of a giant red star. Cooling in intergalactic space, the great web coalesces--its mode asym- ptotically parallels the end of Duration and the beginning of a glorious Entropy in which conflict is not eliminated but is no longer contextual (a steady state). Space, that other product of the Angels, will thus continue to exist. That is, with the universe, all you are (or all they are) will go out. Grace, then, or the notion of such sans terminus. 5 In every great rumination, one discovers the same death. The poets grow in a brittle age, most talkative when at heart most silent. They know how each word is a shift of matter, yet how beyond them, of itself, matter moves, & how that energy is Joyous or Tragic but always Comic. This, then, prepares the future corridors of the years, a time softened for our coming: the air, chromium at the windows, our bodies experiencing the imprint of stars.
The suggestion: what is need, is the terror of the poor less simple than the man's embarrassment as he halts in speaking looking for a word feeling he is nothing until he finds it So too, the liquid eyes in the photograph of the hungry face are the center of similar nothingness but mark it existing beyond speech or promise
From the Riviera Bar The world spreads out On car-roofs grey-sky images are carried off Turn corners and park for the night under streetlamps The trees bear the cold I'm not that cold I can drop leaves And hibernate For the Chinese poets this was the way The brushstroke of ink and character "a style of leaves growing" Or leaves falling. The growing to old age Hair falling in a style of leaves falling It is a different age. No poet Will die as beautifully as he lived The leaves lie curled on the ground As though their stem-ends tried In a spasm once more for the tree limbs. Here is 7th Avenue running North to South The cars take the clouds downtown on their backs The way Satyrs did beautiful women The buildings cast their shapes ON the steel-sheathed magnificence Of Lower New York Bay The water is dark and gives nothing back It flows determinedly to join the Atlantic The salt in one's blood leaps To join the salt of the ocean
1 EGRESS DOOR -- the stencil on the module- opens to let two men out who have traveled from one rock to another the scene scanned by a camera to be replayed & replayed with only minor distortions in images that are fixed & fixed 2 & make small mirrors in the viewer to which his nerves leap the crowds at terminals & beaches before the massive screens are given back themselves & draw comfort the rocket's "plumed tail, that many-headed hydra" the "lumps, chunks" the newscasts the words dovetailed to the matter. . . 3 but emptiness flows in past the hatch contaminates. . . & when the landing site is turned from earth's face the motors hum the small lamps flicker mirroring the forgotten lyrics of stars that winked on earth but now in the heavens stand steady -in the unreal starlight arms & limbs curled beside the hardware look strange & thought itself catchers on the nothingness -the broken open -ness of space that finds us most ourselves 4 & they say: "launch" they say: "nearly missed it" : "double heartrate" : "looking great" recognized & radioed there & returned the necessary the unnecessary information yet how does one send the silence back or the night that breaks from a man in whose mind there is no metaphor no counterpart but the heart grasping singularity going out
Not ever to let it be I think of silverfish skittering across a pond ripples sky and trees but not disturbing them as when it struck you it struck me the mind mirrored world a way out of unhappines not happy as one might say: I'm so happy, but a depth to hold the various possibilities your face, mine there tendered, tended.
for Michael Martone they are in the room she naked on the bed & as he comes for her certain images are loosed yesterday, in the same room his friend-- the camera between them- sighting thru the optical chain of shutter & glass catching or fixing him stopping for an instant that process but from his insides out--some terror of openness following his friend's hand the friend suggesting where to look yet, to say to himself, it is me I wish truly, I do wish myself & the other man's lens sear him to the film in the moment when the densities, the pressures, heats: the light of the present is caught as past-tense in the emulsion this a fantasy playing on the web of nerve ends casting the heart to the image one no longer is which is a death of dream as in ancient tales: can a man meet his ghost? of can the ghost, so he must see himself uncompleted meet the man? & fearing his ghost's death meet obliteration? but now he wants her & faces her needs, saying see the photos of what I am not now before you fixed in those images an acid to flame his own desire those old stories, the ghost hidden in the tree, took in their minds their shape & who left-it fell with his leaving or they burnt the tree & watched the Gods flare loose (what traveled out of him & up the lens not him, but how he knew himself prepared by his images & came to her, her thighs open the sweet dissolution that could come true heightened & reaching & breaking faithlessly from himself into the beautiful
Sunlight at a window Doing justice to a wall A harsh light Toward which low shrubs grow Leaf over leaf Without thought In that light The white cracked imperfections Of the wall Are its perfections And one looks for The minute hand or second hand Or shutter On which this Might catch and fix And the light Makes fabric with the leaves The objects are conveyed As opaques and transparancies And shiver out Their moment in the sense Until in time The dark Falls across the face And the lover's face Is given also to the dark Ah, fragrance, Thick as the throat gets Thinking this Sitting under trees An orange fallen from the branch Both bitter and sweet Of nature Neither happy nor sad With how things are or are not The past I think of Promised both everything And nothing I see us as we were Looking down at our reflections On the garden's pool Thralled To be given that back
1 tales, dreams and signs in things; their stories arrive when we do a voice marking hearing embeds itself in the static of transmission so many stories so many peculiarities. . . imagine a bell-shaped mouth emitting a bell-shaped scream some level above the noise this real noise telling us more than it should of ourselves 2 you can mine a person as the earth is mined from the depths up and some assayer call it fool's gold or the gold that makes fools of us so I hear her words everyway, anyway and as Laing might say its not the `complex' but the context 3 meet any man or woman from the hands or eyes the physiognomy, the topology of gesture by which some constant beyond talk talk talk is betrayed yet how to speak of this if not to say that in this love the riber of me beyond words confronts the river that is you and we are now swirled, now held now stilled in those eddies 4 you screamed a terror you hardly know of brushing back behind your face sitting inside you like another wanting to be flesh of your flesh I tried to reach you it drew you back you slumped alone in the chair little one defeated by even those who think they love you you screamed fuck me I was to come into another your eyes locked on that childhood of saddened animals of monstrous headed dolls I felt your heart strangely calm beating with the weight of two beating for neither of us 5 what then to be taken at face value the message the sender or receiver and if the words are precipitates --in themselves precipitous rare and expensive dust desperately grasped in the amalgam I search your face to find the flaw --the glint of that divorcement of utterance and feeling for beyond the malleable gold of what one hears is the rarer hardness of the diamond shattered by the misplaced tap 6 that delicacy, that frailty of the pain of feeling abandoned and I too would have abandoned my self my life. . . yet seeing her beyond her voice which wove like a deathly sonnet entwined itself within the webbing of myself heaving and sobbing the babble of terrible stories rushing past which lift and buffet us --isolate particles suspended in our fates and faiths
1 so it might end so it might end and all things lose distinctness above streets above the brown oval of the bullring above treetops, the wide blue space to sea shredded by sound thousands birds screaming down the sun among them the peacock its almost human shriek which, by that, still touches. . . 2 it is an old world we have come to to think the shock of the know the imagined as known enough to hold us --as the sea and metal hold its light we come here on the ferry, watch the dolphin's graceful plunge we stand on deck in harsh relief blinding sun grinding down details of skin and pores and the dolphin's body thrusts down the waves is lustrous for an instant in the sun the pang as it dives self-contained the sea wipes away its passage in that terrible light to barely see ourselves the thick glinting cliffs of strange continents encircle and confront us 3 it was our place it was not our place and like those storks which abandon their nests --some shift in brainmatter meaning they roost elsewhere this year, maybe next-- we come here to explore to perch ourselves on these rocks above the coast and the sea and its beings hidden in the mist for the eye seeks with unclouded remembrance seeks the world enlarged beyond all dimensions the roof, the sun under which the mind staggers to the next thought and the heart and lungs scratch on the thin air like gills of some landed fish an unquenchable synapse which knows no answer 4 it was ourselves and the end of ourselves the house at night its lives twisted in the bedsheets and I walked the parched silt hills knowing neither you nor anyone grateful when I knew the path I was on its stones and shade trees yet the night's sexual spell was cast across the days we went out we returned we may have suffered and surely we came back as different people but to a precise feeling which sustains us 5 the almond and the oleander on the roads at dusk the paths which spiral towards fortress walls yet we come here and find the transplanted Sequoia the transplanted swirls of arabic art we come here to partake of the transplant of beauty. . . and the birds cry their tremendous noise --polyphony, do-decaphony --thought tries to place the sound yet nothing in the mind can contain it foreigners in a foreign land --can one call another foreign who in that dusk is tremblingly clasped for the otherness is beautiful and terror and delight in the same moment flood the heart
Originally published by Sumac Press. Long out of print, this book is reproduced here complete. Original cover by the author.
Light and Dust @ Grist Mobile Anthology of Poetry.