Janet Rodney - "Chameleon's Cadmium"


by Janet Rodney


for Gabriel Ferrater,

In Memoriam

Pandora forgot

that memories, a multitude of evils
would be essential for high speed com
puter operation, would be found (years
later) in most machines memories built
up of small cones, shaped like dough
nuts, memories made of hard magnetic materi
al magnetizeable in two directions,
would have to be rewritten after read
ing in order to be remembered: Me
mory that does not err, a de
structive-read technique used most
ly because less expensive, but for
certain applications, industrial
or military control operations,
where loss of stored information is dis
astrous, nondestructive memory-reading
techniques would be developed. In time,

Of course it's a different scene: Chameleon.
Despite great progress in random access
memories, they would likely never be
large enough to hold the tens
of millions of words needed. On
ly a small selection at high speed
would be found in most machines.


to be rewritten after reading in
order to be remembered memories
bounced off the moon via satellite,
recountable random access dots of
magnesium exciting parallels Mem
ories, that despite great progress
will likely never be even by sate
llite large enough, like the geo
meter who sets all his mind to the
squaring of the circle to hold
the tens of millions of words
needed for the building up of small co
nes shaped like doughnuts, as the lab
oratory rat scuttles through the trap do

or made of hard magnetic material ran
dom at high speed industrial or mili
tary control operations.
Of course. Chameleon.
Recountable memories despite great
progress: it's a different sce
ne, the Love that moves the Sun
and the other stars Pan
dora forgot a multitude of ev
ils that memory does not err.

That is

Recountable, Chameleon, cadmium plastic
bag intended for garbage, tied tight
over your head, your yellow hood in
tended for basura, your head intended
for garbage. Did you intend Cadmium
as you lay your long limbs down,
gray feet down from conviction from
sheer physical depression, Chameleon,
c'est autre chose, the loneliness of the act,
tying it tight, es otra cosa. Gone, rained
out. Rained down to the Seventh Depth for

an instant the face gone from sheer de
pression the physical edges of the carp
et damp from rain the books mold
y from recountable rain your yel
low hood tied like a falcon's me
mory noted what I did not see intend
ed for garbage. Your watch stopped on the ta
ble, your last entry, 27 April, 1972, old arti
ficer, flying heavily overhead over girl
ish rivers and trees, old seducer in dis
may, your last, Chameleon, the cruellest mon
th, to stand me now and ever in good ste
ad, face gone dots of magnesium.


Generation of Harpies, lamentation
on strange trees Here, not there
the bleeding of the bark Here, wind
turning into voice, your word,
old seducer, on the page: Remem
bering, fortune-flung into the wood
Here, in a place not chosen, how
grain rose to sapling, sapling
to savage tree, Here on the road,

the crashing of the branches in the wood,
sap dripping slowly onto moist earth,
road rising, angle almost imperceptible
like a slow screw's thread Gone
Bounced off the moon for garbage.
How many known for an instant
Here at high speed will not be
large enough to be rewritten as
Harpies, widewinged bellyfeathered
make their nests, human necks
and faces lament on strange trees,
the branchcrash, slow sapdrip almost
imperceptible on earth in an in
stant not large enough
to be rewritten Here.


of stored information des
pite progress, like the geometer
who sets his mind for all his think
ing does not discover the prin
ciple the buildup of small cones
shaped like donuts to hold the words,
Chameleon, old artificer: my father,

c'est autre chose, almost imper
ceptible in random-access memories,
a small recountable selection exci
ting parallels those two that go
together the loneliness of the act:
of course memory does not err as you
lay down your long limbs, your words
here on the page: "Menja 't una cama"
to stand me now in good stead with two
that went together seemed so
light upon the wind for
tune-flung in a place not chos
en, remember how grain rose to sap
ling your last entry Chameleon
for an instant tied tight together,
the Love that moves the Sun and other
stars, c'est autre chose.


ries would be in most machines of the time,
in the middle of the way, in that part
of my book of memory that is rewrit
ten in order to be remembered befo
re which there was little to read,

Here, magnetized in two directions at
high speed: Incipit vita nuova that
despite progress will likely never be lar
ge enough Memory that knows what I
did not see Here stored informa
tion the squaring of the circle vita nu
ova as one set free begins by return
ing to the first intent, entering upon
the savage way non-destructive memo
ry-reading techniques recountable in
good stead a multitude of evils needed
Here in good stead. A scene, Chame
leon, over your head, revolved by the lo
ve that moves the Sun, recountable Cadmium.
In that part of the Agenda where face, phy
sical edges gone and other stars, the Love,
Chameleon, not random. Here be
gins the new life from


with certain applications, indus
trial or military control operations,
the line grows thick on the edge of fraud.
Rusteth the craft, the beast with pointed tail

passing mountains, breaking through walls,
and the craftsman, because less expensive
will be found in most machines: hum
an necks expendable because no picture
is made to endure nor to live with Here
on the road almost imperceptible how man
y unknown gone for garbage.
The books, moldy, will be re
written built up of small cones
magnetized in two directions for
high speed computer operation in or
der to be a destructive-re
ad technique. Plus de lectures sau
vages only a small selection will be fo
und recountable in the loneliness
of the generation the face the fa
ce of a just man more brute than human, gra
cious the outward aspect from conviction
essentially Dante's own invention, Geryon,
flanks painted with knots of circlets
shaped like doughnuts, Sin against nature.

Fraud, or

deliberate use of human powers for inhuman
ends certain applications against nature

in the Bay of Pigs industrial or military con
trol operations against Hanoi passing moun
tains, breaking walls, how many unknown hu
man necks expendable the face of a just man
his tail aquiver in the Void from conviction,
Chile, Allende, Neruda, gracious the out
ward aspect for inhuman ends industrial
military ends essential for high speed buil
ding up hard magnetic material the crash in
the wood, the panting, pouches swinging fro
m their necks Gone expendable Che,
Martin, Malcomb, JFK: Names are the con
sequences of things, Horror vacui, Chamele
on, your hooded head a consequence of line
grown thick: you had been long on the wing.
No picture made to live Here in the end
breaks through the walls, and the crafts
man for all his thinking as one set free
returns to be rewritten in order to be re
membered Memory, Here shall be thy worth He
re cast off all sloth, impound magne
tic material from the Masters, for you,

Copyright © 1976 by Janet Rodney.

First published in an edition of 250 copies by Ortolan Press. The book was intended for friends and has never been commercially available. The book is reproduced here complete. Scores have been added to indicate the disjunctions at page and column breaks, which reinforce other disjunctions in the poem, most apparent in words broken at line endings. The drawings from the original edition by Nathaniel Tarn may be seen in the (with graphics) entry for this title.

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