from "Poland/1931" by Jerome Rothenberg


                from POLAND/1931

              by JEROME ROTHENBERG

                  "The Wedding"

     my mind is stuffed with tablecloths
     & with rings but my mind
     is dreaming of poland stuffed with poland
     brought in the imagination
     to a black wedding
     a naked bridegroom hovering above
     his naked bride        mad poland 
     how terrible thy jews at weddings
     thy synagogues with camphor smells & almonds
     thy thermos bottles thy electric fogs
     thy braided armpits
     thy underwear alive with roots o poland
     poland poland poland poland poland
     how thy bells wrapped in their flowers toll
     how they do offer up their tongues to kiss the moon
     old moon old mother stuck in thy sky thyself
     an old bell with no tongue a lost udder
     o poland thy beer is ever made of rotting bread
     thy silks are linens merely thy tradesmen
     dance at weddings where fanatic grooms
     still dream of bridesmaids still are screaming
     past their red moustaches poland
     we have lain awake in thy soft arms forever
     thy feathers have been balm to us
     thy pillows capture us like sickly wombs & guard us
     let us sail through thy fierce weddings poland
     let us tread thy markets where thy sausages grow ripe & full
     let us bite thy peppercorns let thy oxen's dung be sugar to
              thy dying jews
     o poland o sweet resourceful restless poland
     o poland of the saints unbuttoned poland repeating endlessly
              the triple names of mary
     poland poland poland poland poland
     have we not tired of thee poland no for thy cheeses
     shall never tire us nor the honey of thy goats
     thy grooms shall work ferociously upon their looming brides
     shall bring forth executioners
     shall stand like kings inside thy doorways
     shall throw their arms around thy lintels poland
     & begin to crow


     "COKBOY                           Part One"

     saddlesore I came
     a jew among
     the indians
     vot em I doink in dis strange place
     mit deez pipple mit strange eyes
     could be it's trouble     
     could be       could be
     (he says) a shadow
     ariseth from his buckwheat
     has tomahawk in hand
     shadow of an axe inside his right eye
     of a fountain pen inside his left
     vot em I doink here
     how vass I lost tzu get here
     am a hundred men
     a hundred fifty different shadows
     jews & gentiles
     who bring the Law to Wilderness
     (he says) this man
     is me     my grandfather
     & other men-of-letters
     men with letters carrying the mail
     lithuanian pony-express riders
     the financially crazed Buffalo Bill
     still riding in the lead
     hours before avenging the death of Custer
     making the first 3-D movie of those wars
     or years before it
     the numbers vanishing in kabbalistic time
     that brings all men together
     & the lonely rider
     is me    my grandfather
     & other men of letters
     jews & gentiles entering
     the domain of Indian
     who bring the Law to Wilderness
     in gold mines & shaky stores
     the fur trade heavy agriculture
     ballots bullets barbers
     who threaten my beard your hair
     but patronize me
     & will make our kind the Senator from Arizona
     the champion of their Law
     who hates us both
     but dresses as a jew one day an indian
     the next a little christian schmuck
     vot em I doink here
     dis place is maybe crazy
     has all the letters going backwards
     (he says) so who can read the signboards
     to the desert 
     who can shake his way out of the woods
     ford streams the grandmothers
     were living near
     with snakes inside their cunts
     teeth maybe
     maybe chainsaws
     when the Baal Shem visited America
     he wore a shtreiml
     the locals all thought he was a cowboy
     maybe from Mexico
     "a cokboy?"
     no a cowboy
     I will be more than a credit to my community
     & race
     but will search for my brother Esau among these redmen
     their nocturnal fires I will share
     piss strained from my holy cock
     will bear seed of Adonoi
     & feed them visions
     I will fill full a clamshell
     will pass it around from mouth to mouth
     we will watch the moonrise
     through each other's eyes
     the distance vanishing in kabbalistic time
     (he says) the old man watches
     from the cliffs a city
     overcome with light
     the man & the city disappear
     he looks & sees another city
     this one is made of glass
     inside the buildings stand
     immobile statues
     brown-skinned faces
     catch the light
     an elevator
     moving up & down
     in the vision of the Cuna nele
     the vision of my grandfather
     vision of the Baal Shem in America
     the slaves in steerage
     what have they seen in common
     by what light their eyes
     have opened into stars
     I wouldn't know
     what I was doing here
     this place has all the letters going
     backwards a reverse in time
     towards wilderness
     the old jew strains at his gaberdine
     it parts for him
     his spirit rushes up the mountainside
     & meets an eagle
     no an iggle
     captains    commanders    dollinks   delicious madmen
     murderers opening the continent up to exploitation
     cease & desist (he says)
     let's speak (he says)
     feels like a little gas down here (he says)
     (can't face the mirror without crying)
     & the iggle lifts him
     like an elevator
     to a safe place above the sunrise
     there gives a song to him
     the Baal Shem's song
     repeated without words for centuries
     "hey heya heya" but translates it
     as "yuh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-bum"
     when the Baal Shem (yuh-buh) learns to do a bundle
     what does the Baal Shem (buh-buh) put into the bundle?
     silk of his prayershawl-bag beneath
     cover of beaverskin above
     savor of esrog fruit within
     horn of a mountaingoat between
     feather of dove around the sides
     clove of a Polish garlic at its heart
     he wears when traveling
     in journeys through kabbalistic forests
     cavalry of the Tsars on every side
     men with fat moustaches yellow eyes & sabers
     who stalk the gentle soul
     at night through the Wyoming steppes
     (he says) vot em I doink here
     I could not find mine het
     would search the countryside on hands & knees
     until    behind a rock in Cody
     old indian steps forth
     the prophecies of both join at this point
     like smoke a pipe is held
     between them dribbles through their lips
     the keen tobacco
     cokboy (says the Baal Shem)
     places a walnut in his handkerchief & cracks it
     on a boulder each one eats
     the indian draws forth a deck of cards
     & shuffles
     they play at wolves & lambs
     the fire crackle in the pripitchok 
     in a large tent somewhere in America
     the story of the coming forth begins

     "COKBOY                     Part Two"

     comes a brown
     wind curling from
     tense tissue sphincter
     opened over the whole continental
     divide & shot the people up
     plop plop a little girl emergeth
     she with the beaver tits nose furry
     eyes of the Redman's
     gropes down the corridor
     (sez) hallo doctor
     got a hand to spare?
     doctor sez hokay
     --yas doctor
     hand up her bush
     he pulls
     a baby    howling
     in lamplight a little Moses
     now the Cacique's daughter laugheth
     --oh doctor not so-o hard
     so hard America is born
     so hard the Baal Shem dreams about it
     200 years later
     in Vitebsk
     (he was in correspondence with Wm Blake
     appeared on Peckham Rye
     --yes fully clothed!--
     & was his angel)
     angel says his mother
     smiling proud
     she sees his little foot
     break through
     her crotch an itching
     races up her ribs
     America is born
     the Baal Shem is a beaver
     (happened while the Indian talked
     chanted behind Cody
     the mad jew slid to life
     past pink styrofoam snow of her body's
     the freaky passageways
     unlit unloved
     like gums of an old woman
     teeth were ripped from
     ages gone) into
     another kind of world
     he hurtles
     does reawaken in the female swamp
     a beaver amongst the rushes
     --momma!--calls the Baal Shem
     vot em I doink here
     I hev become mine beard
     (he says) the blind world shines on him
     water runs through his mouth
     down belly it is dark
     a darkness (fur is dark
     & hides the skin & blood
     a universal fur
     but leaves one hole
     to open from the body's
     darkness pushing
     into light)
     like great cock of the primal beings
     red & smooth like copper
     of the sun's red eye at night
     old Beaver lugs it in his hand
     I am myself    my grandfather
     (he sings) my name is Cokboy
     --COKBOY, understand?
     I leave my grandmother in the female swamp
     will be the Great Deliverer someday yuh-buh-bum
     even might find a jar  of honey  might stick my prick in  my
          prick might tingle  might it not  tickle  me  the  bees
          find out about it  &  sting the knob  it grows a second
          a dozen or so knobs along its length are maybe 30 knobs
     so what's the use I ask maybe will try again I drag it red &
          sore behind me  so vulnerable I have become in this hot
          climate shitting & farting shooting marbles was opening
          my mouth & coming in it
     the blackbird shits  o not so fast love into my hat  my eyes 
         turn  white  wood-lilies are growing from them  a slavic 
         birth  I  can't  deny  so tender  in my eyes tender  the 
         native turds come floating
     & across America in an outrage uselessly I shout against the
         Sun you  are no longer my father  Moon you are no longer
         my mother I have left you have gone out jaunty with cock
         slung over shoulder  this  is the journey your young men
         will take
     (says Beaver) makes it to the hut where that old woman lives
         apron over her belly carp in oven  maybe fried bread fat
         fat little mother don't mind if I drop a stone onto your
         brains your daughters  be back later  little hot girls I
         ride on pretending I was you  I suck their ears & scream
         o put me lower down love o my cock inside
     & have to cool it
     I cool it
     in waters where a princess
     daughter of a chief
     went bathing
     lethal & innocent the cock
     has found its mark
     (his train has reached Topeka
     Custer is dead)
     & enters the bridegroom's quarters
     darkness her flesh prepared for it
     by new moon
     in her abdomen a sliver
     a silver dollar over Barstow
     lighting the Marriage of America
     in kabbalistic time
     (says Cokboy) you are the daughter of
     the mountain
     now will I take thee to my father's tribe
     to do the snake dance
     o jewish feet of El go crazy
     in his mind
     I carry in my knapsack
     dirty pictures land grants
     (but further back her people
     gun for him
     how should they feel
     seeing their daughter in arms of
     --C-O-C-K, understand?--)
     thou art become my Father's bride
     are wedded to (ug) Christian god
     bye bye I got to run now
     engagements await us in Salt Lake City
     industry riseth everywhere
     arrows strike concrete
     never shall bruise my sweetie's flesh
     (says Cokboy) on horse
     up river he makes his way
     past mining camps Polacks were panning gold in
     & other pure products of America
     o prospectors o Anglo Saxons
     baby-faced dumplings who pacified the west
     with gattling guns with bounties for hides of babes
     mothers' vulvas made baseballs to their lust
     o bringers of civilization heros heros
     I will fight my way past you who guard the sacred border
     last frontier village of my dreams
     with shootouts tyrannies
     (he cries) who had escaped the law
     or brought it with him
     how vass I lost tzu get here
     was luckless
     on a mountain & kept from
     true entry to the west true paradise
     like Moses in the Rockies who stares at California spooky in
             the jewish light
     of horns atop my head great orange freeways of the mind
     America disaster
     America disaster
     America disaster
     America disaster
     where he can watch the sun go down
     in desert
     Cokboy asleep (they ask)
     awake (cries Cokboy)
     only his beard has left him
     like his own    his grandfather's
     ghost of Ishi was waiting on the crest
     looked like a jew
     but silent
     was silent in America
     guess I got nothing left to say


     "The Wedding" and "Cokboy" are the first and last poems 
     in the book, POLAND/1931, by Jerome Rothenberg, published 
     by New Directions, New York. Copyright © 1974 and 1986 by 
     Jerome Rothenberg. An audio cassette of the author reading 
     POLAND/1931 is available through Light and Dust. 


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