Hamilton Stone Review #20
Obstacle on the 110
What the hell is that?
We spot the mass
Black and indeterminate first then
In an instant
Ponder its function: Huge, shucked tie-tread?
Somber crate? Body bag?
None of the above, processed at 75mph;
Experience kicks in: Once, that thing hugged
The bed of a pickup. Look, now:
Forlorn. I downshift, switch lanes.
Routine, nothing to it.
Ironic how trouble that large
Is subdued by its own immense visibility.
A shard of shock absorber, a hank of transmission--
True enemies. But this:
Peripheral vision is useful, when the pavement is roaring:
See the cop,
Standing by his bike on the shoulder,
Having a smoke.
You can’t say he’s indecisive, just patient:
1. Lost bedliner isn’t going anywhere;
2. I should definitely quit.
He could be there a while. Of course,
Chances are good
He’s just waiting for backup. Nice day:
Overcast, cool—no omens.
Takes a drag. A few more years, then rest.
We are five miles farther south
By the time his thoughts coalesce:
I’m a strong man, on a fine day.
Strong enough to beat back the worst.
“In scientific writing, metaphor is unwelcome, except in homeopathic doses”
–E. O. Wilson
I. Figurative Language
Perhaps, in answer,
one example will suffice, though
from the kingdom of
the fungi, there are many more.
Lycoperdon, “wolf fart.”
II. The Law of Similars
That substance–drug or other
symptoms in a healthy person
will, by inverse reasoning, instill
its palliative effect when hints
of its dilution are allowed to waft
across the troubled soul.
The mind finds its remission
of miasma–asthma, cancer,
your despair that will not answer
when you call, direct,
its name. Thusly the same
will serve as curative, unnerving
your affliction with succussion
and dilution. Read a page
or two, and then turn out the light.
that didn’t work.
We still need to see
the full gestalt.
Let huckleberry stand for woods,
as in, thinking of summer,
July unrushed and lush,
“I have an appointment
with a huckleberry.”
Unless that is metonymy,
the single fruit recalling,
by association, Thoreau in some
Concord glade, made glad
by the effulgent day.
As in, I wish to associate myself
with all these thoughts.
V. Home Schooling
Behind the welcome mat,
the focus for today, like
every day, is writing across
the curriculum. To be effective,
this must be part of a well-balanced
diet, breakfast is the most important
meal, etc. Remember questions
from your afternoons, decades ago,
in Mrs. Rutter’s English class.
Why are we reading just an excerpt?
Can we put our own opinions
in the paper, or do we have to just
quote sources? When do we
get to go outside?
A droning Dornier, fuming diesel, overshot the pit and opened its bomb-bay, straining for height: TNT tumbled, blasting bedrock open. That’s what it was, this crater in the arable earth to the west of Barlow’s farm: the Bomdrop. Everyone knew that.
There were no alternative theories. How else to account for this gouge for no reason, with its crags of sheer sandstone, fissures and screes? There we made a tree-swing, piled bales for cliff-top diving, dug dens in softstone caves.
By middle school, we’d blown the myth: eroding tool marks and vertical planes gave it up as a disused quarry, the yellow-stone lode for the soot-black Broad Lane farms. But you couldn’t tell them; they chose to cleave to the famous story: the German plane that missed the pit and bombed the autumn cornfield.
They came from different earths, to work here in the pits; slaved to shifts, slammed in redbrick council estates, withered to work and the miners’ welfare, they walked the weekend land as tourists, building meaning from locally available materials: ignorance, fancy, fact and experience, coalescing as mythic consensus.
The sandstone hearths are fallen, the fireside voices still. The filled-in quarry, a ridge in the rapefield. Sons of colliers and long-dead ploughmen, walking their meaningless earth.
Your thunder snows
are hard on birds.
Your wind emptied trees’
paperwasps’ nests turn
into owls. Storm drunk
ice glasses pier; mercury-
January, Janus, Ianuarius,
god of gates, doors & doorways, I
was conceived in your two-headed god-
cold month with its
pearl snow fog halos, & its
iced genomes & genetics,
with its thaws’ floating ice scriptures’
January, your bulletins are hail.
You hymn ice stomp;
your ice thicks thinking,
January, the older I am the deeper
I enter your wave waterreal practice
& wave voodoo tirades,
janitor waves’ gates
& ice halls’ tolls.
Murders of crows in white
trees watch every cold thing.
In Restless Migratory Klezmer Winds
For James Liddy 1934-2008
Soft-sunned early November’s comminglings:
loud-leaf fall, poems’ bonfires, All
Saints Day, All Souls Day, cold
air prayer days. Along
the lake snow fences suddenly appear.
(How hard it is to throw ourselves away.
The young want to own the dead,
but the dead are finally big enough
for everyone. Small immortality.)
Grey cloud carnations. What is
the etiquette when a poet dies? Read,
read “Poetry as Arson,” “They’re
all ‘were’ now.” “I say,
it’s what we should be when we disappear,
a sweetness a rich current.” James,
no more pork chops at Pandel’s,
pilgrimages to Blackhawk Island,
grasshoppers (her drink) at Club 26,
or winterlit dinners in the Third Ward
and drinks on Park
under the floodlight of Spicer’s letter.
Was there a more lively talker?
Where? Whom to gossip with now?
Star and its star
in the sky to Wexford
patient bruised horizon.
Contemplation on Lake Insula
The dreaming memory of Lake Insula barely contains
our two canoes struggling between its islands
one windy afternoon, stopping for logan bread
and peanut butter in a sheltered bay. The stars
she gathers on clear nights, the moon, the water striders
and whirligigs that touch without expecting more:
these fill her dreams. The trees that the wind
sometimes takes down to give her, yes, and many things
she will never show to you or me. The little island
called The Rock, a few tons of soil and firs and sedge
clinging tight, and blueberries so tiny that a hundred
are not a handful--even the rock is not friend or lover,
just the neighbor she cannot avoid entirely.
She is working very carefully to wear him down.
The wind is on her side. But for now her dream
and her memory are a vast hum, a long slant
of light, green things and others making
what they are not yet from what already is,
what was, what burns hot, what burns not at all,
what sleeps in the wet heart of the world.
Additional Assertions on Souls
“Only moving does it have a soul.”
-Pablo Neruda, “Ode to Bicycles”
1) All stones, even those from the moon, must share a single soul.
2) Dragonflies each have the soul of another, and spend their lives chasing their own.
3) Barns have souls until the main timber breaks.
4) Birds have souls only when singing, flying, or at rest.
5) Butterflies are so light because they abandon their souls at birth.
6) Automobiles have souls made of grease and fire, just like us.
7) The heron’s soul is all bone and feathers, an excellent mother despite its lack of hands and breasts.
8) The tiger lily’s flower is tender and sweet on the tongue, and its soul likewise.
9) We believe the earth has a soul, but nobody has ever gotten its attention.
10) The many tiny souls of the grass were at perfect ease until Whitman began to ask questions.
11) The air is one wild soul looking blindly for the lost one.
12) And the water carries many souls but keeps none for itself.
At the Schloss Freisaal
Now just wait a minute. Now sit down, yes, here beside
the smallest castle in town, set between two narrow ponds.
A tiny brook dimples into one of them, just loud enough
to quench the traffic noise. The bench faces west,
across the meadow shiny with new grass and toward
the mountain in its spring haze, glowing in the afternoon
like an earthly star, like a being from Sirius or Altair
sent to convict us with no message but silence and glory.
Two old men pass, cheerful and grumpy, exchanging
long stories they already know. They are windy and grand
as the long ridge of the Untersberg where a man might walk
and see both ways, into two countries and a million lives,
into the secret map of the single future where our children’s
children remember only that people like us somehow managed
not to burn up the world, a place where they pass through
the smooth ancient streets, where work and pleasure continue--
strange to us, and not strange at all. Someone’s child,
released from school at last, will drop her bike along the path
and settle in the bright grass, dreamy from her lessons,
to watch the mountain offer her its secrets, to hear
the meadow whisper something like her name.
Another dead child
in the news and again I
think rise up out
of the water, water lilies
pouring over my shoulders
like fire, and
even if the man is dead
now, a suicide, hanging
himself in fact,
the part of me rising
from under water wants to
kill him, truly, for
what was in his eyes
when his eyes snagged
mine to push them back
under. Me a boy,
in the water,
him a drunk on a
pier -- watching me
drown, my eyes begging
him, his loving this better
than sex if the eyes
were to be believed.
My father ran down
from the bunkhouse,
how did he know? And
snagged me with
a boat oar, my miraculous
who did not swear,
called that son
of a bitch a son of a bitch
The guy was gangly,
loose in the knees and
elbows, a great tap dancer at
parties. There he was
on the pier,
loose as a tap dancer,
not even splashing his highball.
“Hey, the kid can
swim, the kid's just
foolin' around, what’s
the big deal?” Nowadays
the school picture of another
one in the paper and I say,
what the eyes
were, I know what the last
eyes you ever saw
said to you.” And
now, old and foolish, I go on
wishing for them all
that some miracle father
like mine had come
down from the bunkhouse
for every one of them.
No More Bull
I was Europa. Ravished,
not raped. We were the stars
of myth, of art. How can you pull
a thread from woven history?
How step from the gilded
frames? You pursued your own
logic, like every god. I loved
your horns, your hoofs.
We Are Not Made of Sugar
I am not afraid of the cold. I have other fears:
manila folders, narrow windows.
A pumpkin in the garden softens. Its seeds
come up in spring, a small forest of stalks, each
translucent, breakable, bearing its tiny
two-leaved flag. Victory, it says, and surrender.
If we can’t dance in flame and sleep on sheets
of ash, our love is not immortal. You must burn
your stash of dollars, I my house of paper.
Wir sind doch nicht aus Zucker,
the German woman says, striding into the rain.
But we are: sugar on each others’ tongues.
The owl’s eyes are round as planets
round as the moon with trouble in them
like the storm-eye of Jupiter Owls silent
as Mars gliding across the night sky with a hot heart
thudding and perfusing blood like lava
squeezed from its chamber deep beneath
the surface of Venus or Europa or Io yellow
as the eye of an owl
Who knows owls anymore
The flat round of the face that collecting disc
tuned to the smallest mouse’s
rustling in the duff Solitary, secret, unearthly
child of earth
Your Own Ox-Head Mask as Proof
I must inquire after the kora’s lantern, with regard to the spoken mice.
One moment they are absent. Then we say summer solstice, and they pool as
rainwater in sawdust droppings of a horse.
Am I too explicit?
Do you feel the full wept of my desire to cry, and in the crying one day
You say it is impossible to subsist on a diet of tree bark and pneumonia.
You repeat that I am a fraud and point to your own ox-head mask as proof.
I don’t want your remembrance of bread.
I could never eat the zero you drew on my back.
Frankly, ever since then, I can no longer count.
Even your imagined tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
I consider the loss of independent saliva.
I regard you as very thick stew.
I must require you to string me a sitar in minutes to test your exactitude.
The teakettle is boiling over, and with it your voice of warming tries to get me
to grow a beard.
From the Book of Tongues (32)
So, they never arrive, or they arrive
late, those trains bearing The Book of Tongues.
In each hump-backed car of coal,
only this: a mirror, a tilting
glass of water, and a mute eunuch
with a black hen in his chest.
Impossible sound of wheels scraping
miles, as if coming across
the frozen bones of the tundra
and a great snow. Pine trees like sentries
or like some cliché of sentries
the tell of the tongue inherits
in lost caches of coal when it goes
to say a name. Snow like so many
snows that obliterate white
snake eggs, removing earth from the heart
and forcing a thought of sky. Not quite
a eunuch but a muted reach
toward another, stopped in mid-embrace.
And the tablets, part mirror, part
train, part tongue-leaves oiled and smoothed
until each embedded word blurs
into a distinct other.
Impossible ground of hen feathers
tilting a glass in the chest
with each turn of track, each slow bend
of tongue the tongue takes toward dissolve.
Ars Poetica: Highlights for Children
A tricycle somersaults
in a maple tree
and in the cloud a violin
bulging with music—
the girl spots it—
is about to rain down
on a cat disguised
as a coil of garden hose
which if unrolled would spill
off the edge of this page
into another world
where a solid tricycle
parks beside a solid tree
unlike this thicket of lines
where she might find
a stopwatch in a snail
a machine gun masquerading
as the picket of a fence
which is why she hurls
her pencil at this scene
circling all its secrets
her hand so big
it might contain
the Milky Way
her mother’s face
even the baby her mother lost
to be found
Permutations of Flight
Soundless, birds escape cold,
an allegory of wind and bone passing
into heaven. As time becomes
motion, whatever my recurring dream,
all blues and glory, both the air
on my skin and the idea.
There are always marauders;
indistinct faces, wet, glittering eyes.
Thunder of horses, and with it,
stench of power. Run into the hills,
your wails trailing with the sheets
and blankets left behind.
I like to fight. To knee
something solid: crumple the wall
between Self and other,
gristle and muscle.
Down it goes, breathing hard.
I like sweat
and snap of bicep,
thick resource of thighbone
shouldering aside obstacles.
I like to thrust
all the way in: I like something hard
and real to go up against—
call it a man, if you will.
Strength is a woman
with her hand knotted in the lion’s mane,
no weapon but a daisy chain—
so I wield
no gun, no spear, no
boxcutter or taser,
birdshot, machete, nor lightning bolt.
Just this chickenscratch,
through grace of membrane and synapse
stinging your eyes awake.
Here are my teeth, smooth
piano keys, and the melody
of my hips. I live
in you as beauty,
call it mind or body,
or a swift elbow
to the solar plexus…
To the Minoans
The birds and dolphins of your palace frescoes
play in a universe buoyant with light.
Were you as civil as your artifacts
incline the skeptic to believe? Even
your smallest fishhook is a thing of beauty,
and your confounding palaces amuse
the intellects of archeologists.
Now you are gone, we find we must invent you
out of our damage, distance and desire.
The Mountain Lioness
Sometimes a print in snow or sand, or else
a deer haunch dragged by the circumspect coyote
from scrub where the hunter hid it—these are signs
of creatures rarely seen, who own the night
because we fear them, because they are said
to watch our every movement in the park.
So when they found her dead in the arroyo
between two houses in our neighborhood,
her hide collapsing between rows of ribs
and her infected jaw a settlement
of flies, I paced my living room as if
her dying caged me here. She was outside,
and in my mind she came back at a crawl,
bewildered by my nerves and limitations.
Authorities who found her starved, alone,
must have felt it too, and grieved a little,
then took their story into coffee shops
and bars, churches, offices: the lioness
who watched us in our primitive regret
for every tract we measured on her land.
A sandpiper braves the ocean—
two-faced god that roars
ready to topple her.
Each time she runs away
the water turns back,
vanishing into the sand’s
its shifting threshold.
No choice but to race—
forward and back
and forward again,
chasing at the chance
to dig through gleaming
flashes of reflection,
her plunging beak
a frantic little jackhammer.
I imagined you could
that you gazed straight
through me to see
the soul of the seagull
spitting shells at my back
and those of the terns
relentlessly mining the bay,
and beyond that,
a human telescope,
you could pirate my past,
the long dirt road
and pitted gardens,
linens and crystal,
so unbeachlike at the shore
that to say
you were jaded
in your view of me
would be like saying
that sight itself is jaded
when it exposes
everything it knows,
or thinks it knows,
weary from knowing,
so slowed down
the color of things
that mix themselves,
a dervish of colors
like a rip tide,
like salt water
with no color equivalent,
and no knowable origins,
like love, weary of its own
if that is what it has to be
to be itself.
“sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.”—Virgil, Aeneid I, line 462
These are tears for events and mortal things.
Newark, Penn Station: A man tries to decipher the smudged indigo ink on a train ticket, which shows the point of origin and the destination. The ticket is only good for another hour.
Another man is begging for a break and says he’s just been released from jail: could he have a coin, a plum, Night Train, nitrous, a ticket out of here? One man is too preoccupied to wonder and another is moving back, away, and shuffles blankly like a slab.
Was he really in jail? Was that a splint? The beef-colored plinth on which he’s standing is blotted with black dots, old gum, where the train will come. What is in his bag? A man, black, asks questions of need. Need, a node throbbing beneath the transparent sheet that is the platform’s air, is a dangerous deed: he seeks a donation to the “Rufus (Swung his face at last to the wind, then his neck snapped) Fund”. Centuries of pylons, elaborate collars with rising forked bells, quick grits with butter, all horrible stanchions seen from within the field, yellow like a crop, but beaten around his eyes is the inevitable truth: I need a ticket, spare a dime, a ticket out of here.
The Cygnus atratus, or black swan, is sometimes a “cob” (male) or a “pen” (female) and in groups a “bank” (on the ground) or a “wedge” (in the air), a literary symbol even before their discovery in Australia. It has also been the name for any high-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare event.
Look into the night sky, focus on the textured grain within it, where the feathers part, and the motor hums in the labyrinth of the muscles’ stricture. The bird-brain with its geographic locator spots the places where the coal burns not extinguishing. Who lit the fire there or was it already smoldering when the blue lights and red lights shined upon it, like a map that was wrong? The territory is dusted with black.
How to explore the effect of the Newark riots? How do the city police escalate violence? How do the state police escalate violence? How does the National Guard escalate violence? How do female looters strip mannequins? Does Anthony Imperiale hate blacks? Does Amiri Baraka hate Jews? Does Amiri Baraka hate whites? What is Black Power? What is a liberal integrationist tradition? What is everyday folk? What is a city peopled and run by African Americans? What is deindustrialization? What is white flight? What does it mean to listen? How do you weigh the split city? Where is the music? Unscrew the bulb and feel the darkness reaching for your throat.
“The door’s pneumatic snap”
The history of Newark is central to understanding the political narrative of race and Civil Rights, and the story of this political history was largely ignored, even though there exists substantial evidence in the Newark Herald and the New Jersey Afro-American from ordinary citizens writing letters to the editor that described the caste system and forms of protest against it.
Jim Crow, that other gun-slinging bird, was not isolated in the Southern states, where it was visible, but had a red beak and leathery acne-red wattle in the social fabric of Northern cities like Newark.
Hockshop, tourniquet, verdigris, spillage of weight, a city…each veined leaf, the veined neck, yellow like marble, a boarded department store, dime store, dime bag, middle gap between red lights and blue lights, a police horse’s breath. Riding across the yellow line, it is a divider, the division symbol, less and less remaining. Flaxen and flexing the light distilled like vinegar & shame, it is a place wrought from bricks solid like amber, and the insect stuck within—its angles—knows not what happens to it.
Antennae cocked and attuned, she once whispered among the passages between winter and spring. Places seeking bus fare out of here, like St. Louis with its elms, Newark with its yellow elms, Newark’s backdoor covered with a curtain: empty grape drink bottle, upturned ribs of an umbrella, prosthetic leg, beige with emptiness, a plastic ruby, pamphlet on Esau, detritus.
Newark is a model for ways a democratic process can breathe new life into a place terribly wounded by riots, racial conflict, and military intervention. Reject the principles of segregation and isolation: commit to a public culture. Recast the categorization of “urban crisis” as the central theme of historiography on this topic to reemphasize the resiliency, creativity, and productivity of black political culture to fight against Jim Crow.
The question we all need to ask ourselves is: Are we genuinely free when crammed into a sack? You there, your eyes are filled with longing. What are you seeking after? And yet, the freedom you enjoy while crammed into a sack is by far greater than that you’d have without one. For all you know, my body could be a sack.
Similarly, African Americans used innovative tactics in Newark to gain political power: self-help organizations, court cases, and the electoral process of municipal office as being powerful responses which were unfortunately, or even tragically, compromised in response to feathery white backlash. Sometimes the same liberal-minded people who stressed racial equality were so disillusioned by racism that they embraced nationalism and separatism. Baraka’s father was an elevator operator at Bamberger’s.
Down, Down, Down
Newark was New Ark when it was new. Now, Newark is a new walk to a New Ark. Newark and new and work and new and work and work anew. Work and new and work and working and New Ark and two by two. Newark and new and few and work and walk and Newark and new and renew. What does Newark, then New Ark, talk about? What is the talk of Newark? Newark renews.
Gender intersects with both the operation of racism and with acts of resistance. Because both women and blacks were excluded from the public sphere, they sought civic power through the pieces of public sphere left to them. Despite black power’s inclusion of various viewpoints and constituencies, by the 1970s Black Nationalism eroded public debate because of its adherence to racial purity.
Gin and Wine
Newark, n.— A city of northeast New Jersey on Newark Bay, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, opposite Jersey City and west of New York City. It was settled by Puritans in 1666 and is today a heavily industrialized port of entry. Population: 281,000; Freud would say: “Opfer-Schuldzuweisung,” known to all as “blaming the victim.”
African American civic activism was encouraged by Jewish grassroots protest against German businesses in Newark’s Central Ward, where publicity from The Jewish Chronicle focused Jewish residents who marched, picketed, and boycotted German products. Similarly, African Americans responded to the fight against Nazi Germany in ways that laid ground for a rising political consciousness in Newark. The “Double V” campaign, a term coined by a Cessna Aircraft Corporation cafeteria worker in a letter to the editor, described a connection between victory against fascism abroad as a goal tantamount to victory against white supremacy at home.
This dynamic movement was connected to the expanse of a rising print culture among African Americans. By the end of the war, estimates show that four million black citizens read the weekly newspaper, and their illiteracy rates were less than half those of white immigrants. Papers: money, rolling paper for cigarettes, verifying identity, a document.
Pier Paolo Pasolini
Photography is the extreme effort of the witness who tries to remember the detail of an action which he has witnessed without participating in it. It is, then, through the imagination that we engrave the photograph with what it lacks, that is, movement.
Any explanation of what my work is about, what I am doing, or why I am mostly compelled to communicate the struggles of people in despair, is elusive. Each time I think I find an answer and begin to write about the connection within me, the answer changes.
There was a tense dynamic between the potential of interracial activism and its limitations. These limitations ironically became more fortified in some cases after the 1963 March on Washington: certain members of CORE and SNCC began to experience rifts as rhetoric from black nationalists alienated integrationists. Curfew means “peasants who cover fire at a fixed time to prevent a larger spread.” The complex and fraught history of these rifts intensified the dramatic tragedy of July 12, 1967, when John DeSimone and Vito Pontrelli, two police officers, attacked John Smith, a black taxi driver.
People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love, and positive about the refusal of constraints, have corpses in their mouths.
A Nation of Two Separate, but Unequal Black and White Worlds
A mimeographed copy of instructions shows how to make a Molotov cocktail. News coverage (from the Rainbow Peacock, NBC) rarely showed the extent of police brutality against female protesters. Related to this Russian explosives issue, comparative studies show news coverage here and in Russia were vastly different. American coverage found whites as victims, while Russian coverage depicted the riots as a military conspiracy to quash repression.
What Is Lost, What Remains
There was a thin lattice of irony in not only the reaction to the riots, but in the riots’ consequences as well: for example, Baraka’s demagogic sexism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism, taken for granted in many militant reactions. Klein’s and Bamberger’s department stores were open. Female mannequins, the maquillage of smooth, were twisted apart.
There are situations which cannot be honorably be met by art. Some ideas are not politically useful, or useful to the childhood of a daughter.
To articulate the past historically does not mean to recognize it ‘the way it really was.’ It means to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger.
Poetry pursues an inventive way of describing the interlocking meanings of decay in Newark. We should care about poems because they not only illustrate intensity. Poems illustrate something else that empathic inquiry can start with one idea: to look at cities, and then ask one’s own mind: what else have you got to say about reading cities with love?
Don’t Stop, Don’t Slow Down
Household items such as tar, strips of tires, sugar, animal blood, egg whites, motor oil, rubber cement, and dish soap can be added as a thickening agent to help the Molotov cocktail burn, to make dense smoke, and to help the liquid to adhere to the target.
Poetry helps us to read nuance and subtlety into “urban crisis” because it does not take politics as a way out, it constantly refreshes and engages language, and it engages the reader not as mere consumer, but as a producer of the text. Therefore, the reader’s ethical and imaginative sensibilities are employed with the mechanisms of a poem.
George Herbert Mead
History is always the interpretation of the present.
With the increase in credit cards and purchasing accounts for shoppers, African American women in cities across the nation protested discrimination in lending, inflated interest and terms, price gouging in the poor neighborhoods, and inferior merchandise.
One of the most baffling things about America is that despite its essentially vile profile, so much beauty continues to exist here.
Newark, a zipper unlocking, reveals a headless amulet with an eye, perhaps the rheumy eye of a corpse. Above the cloud-shaped presses leaving leaflets among the yellow twigs. To Press means: a throng, affray, to undertake, weight-lifting, or in basketball, close marking by the defense. An instrument, toggle & cam, the media. It imprints the surface, smooth as yellow wine, it is the middle of oppression.
Hence, press the flesh, expression, the apparatus to extract juice like cider. The way Argentina means “silver,” this city is really an Ark, of so many cubits. Tormented as they are by rising floodwater, a music built of bone, sidles along two by two, known enough, meeting under the canopy again, with a new body, a four-digit pin number, hollow eyes, & yellow coils.
Life magazine shows the white mannequins unscrewed by black women; the trunk has a kind of pinion that, turned to the left, unloosens. The plastic white legs splay this way, then the jug-like trunk with their champagne feet. Each limb sticks out, or up, in the monolith’s cascade. Black women deliberately disrobed the mannequins, since they obviously didn’t represent the constituency of the stores. All mannequins were naked. A body holds a sack of households goods (not liquor), and another body—plastic—is in a sack. The word “soul” is spray painted in black on a window.
“Black male, dark complexion, approximately 5’8” tall, thin build, early 20’s in age, a moustache and side burns, clean shaven chin, wearing a dark leather jacket, a black knit cap, and a green and brown shirt under the jacket. This suspect possessed the handgun.”
The mere notion of photography, when we introduce it into our meditation on the genesis of historical knowledge and its true value, suggests this simple question: Could such and such a fact, as it is narrated have been photographed?
No Easy Walk, photographs of Newark
Cinder block, cracked branch, broken brick, paper puddle, mud clump, mangled chainlink, lace curtain, ripple field, shower rod, shadow dance, tea stain, tinsel light, junking money, freezing day, squirrel tangle, flipping nasty, dirt banks, glass debris, rotted banister, mouth shut, food stamps, viewfinder, no loitering: in the Central Ward where she lived all fragments were rotting in the soil, and below, the rumble was a question.
Most people go through life dreading they'll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They've already passed their test in life. They're aristocrats.
No work of art nowadays is so carefully studied as photographs that depict oneself, close relatives and friends, a lover…
Imagination is the connection-making aspect of human intelligence, and poetry allows for multiple, conflicting emotions to coexist. It describes that of what we have been unconscious, while preventing erasure of those fresh sense impressions. Poems last as beautiful art objects, but more than that, they decrease normalized indifference and state the poet’s values, her general affection for cities, and her intention to tell the reader: an empathic reading of cities cannot be corrupt. We should care about poems because they ward off not only outside messages of defeat, but also those within our own at times shallow selves; artistic inquiry into urban problems will yield fresh answers.
Old Vaudeville Joke
Newark is the place where the Pullman porter comes in to brush you off for New York.
In the artist of all kinds, one can detect an inherent dilemma which belongs to the co-existence of two trends, the urgent need to communicate and the still more urgent need not to be found.
One can resist only in the terms of the identity that is under attack.
Newark renews after, even wracked forty years after, renews, and soldiers. Newark reneges and soothes. Newark renews.
Underworld: to rub and scrape. To make new, or as new, again; return. Herbs to renew, old temples. Purged and enchanted. New dye. New wool, new tool, look; the ladle and spoon, the nerve, the green and golden. Fresh ice cubes. The visceral plane must be renewed. I’m waiting for you to turn me on.
Newark woos and can lose. Newark works to renew. When viewed, the news in Newark is new shoes. Move and tune-in to the stove: the coils heat and reveal the rune: Newark renews.
Across the Sky
Now the little spit curl clouds I
showed Jill earlier have
loosened and turned
to fluff, with ghosts of blue
A lone blackbird
flaps below the clouds, maybe
a cowbird, according to
the bird book, definitely not
a grackle, that I
thought made those
clipped-back whistles as they
fly in flocks, circling
at twilight—from one tree,
then settling on another—
the song cut back so
radically there’s no
music left, just sharp, hollow
clicks across the sky
that set a tone of longing
as sharp as the flaming
the last to fall in the back yard this
day before Thanksgiving—
the floating clouds that may bring
rain tomorrow, when, after turkey,
we like to walk
along the riverbed,
that’s mostly dry in winter.
By starlight the women come down to draw water,
but first they placate their pond, their “Pig Water,”
haunted by demons that pull unwary ones down
by the legs. The women filling their buckets fear
demons but have no other water. One night, while
I slept beside this pond, I dreamt I was one of them,
my huipile smelling of me and smoke.
Once I could be anything. I went on and off
with the stars. I dove straight out of the sky
to skewer a pigeon on a chain-link fence.
The world doesn’t end at the tip of your nose.
I felt the wind whisper messages at Delphi.
I understood what the cornfields were sighing.
Keep your end up. Comport yourself with dignity,
as the trees do now, in late October, hardly able
to cling to their leaves under the pounding rain
that cars splash through like children. I have been
a woman drawing water from a muddy pond,
murmuring against spirits.
I shall have forgotten by the time I remember
how I must have admired him, his graceful
swing, his surety when I was new to the game
and had a child’s early loneliness for his handsome
classic friends. Now he is not so well witted
but clings like a lonely boy himself
and makes more of mundane things than they are.
He still hits homeruns, he always will, but they are
like surprises, struck from nowhere.
Mask of a Maiden
My lips are clay, for centuries unkissed.
I thought middle age would not pass so quickly.
Time is cruel. I look in the mirror.
Now the word cruel scares me.
My ambition was once
to write the starlit poems of our age,
our final words, which in any case
are just graffiti from here on out,
yesteryear straight through to the afterlife
(though wasn’t the middle part
supposed to be longer?).
I wanted words to contain consciousness,
so I was a child until I was old.
The Fifth Precept
Do not cloud the mind, says the Fifth Precept.
My mind has clouds of its own,
hypomanic storms, wild flights!
Let’s not be squeamish or coy;
it’s only biochemistry.
Hypomania’s a fuel; I run on it
Thunderstorms elate me; my mind
draws a charge from the sky,
but there’s no letdown, just
heightened attention gradually subsiding.
Sometimes ideas run through my head so that
I cannot sleep. I’m inclined to rush from one activity
to another without pausing for enough rest.
I am sometimes more talkative than usual
or feel a pressure to keep talking.
Sooner or later I wear myself out.*
I asked a teacher how a cloud should sit.
He said, Sit among clouds.
Zazen, what ridiculous and arduous work,
following the homeless dog home!
Sometimes I sit instead on the banks
of the Forensic River, television, and watch
them unzip the shroud of the exhumed child.
Sometimes I study the monkey-antics of mind,
or wonder what opium would be like.
I feel like Voyager, the spacecraft sent out
by Jimmy Carter with an intergalactic greeting
from Earth, and a map of how to find me.
* Bipolar II charactistics (in italic) have been lifted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR, American Psychiatric Association, 2000). The list is partial and rearranged, but otherwise verbatim.
Zazen and Opium
I know what I have to give up.
It’s not the flashy green commotion
of leaves this August evening,
garden blackening, drinking,
or the dogs unsettled by thunder
I can’t yet hear. It’s not the teakettle’s
ongoing quarrel with itself,
or the snow’s beauty coming from far away
to cover the beauty now ascending.
There’s no sense giving up
what will be taken from me anyway,
first youth, now middle age departing,
the eastern woodlands stricken
by acid and blight,
beloved sky blue-blackening,
cedar waxwings swooping
low over the pond, feeding,
fattening for their voyage
to a world devoid of us.
I know what I need to know.
No path lies ahead of me.
Where I go, it follows.
I lead it to the monastery,
where I sit steadfast in the very early hours,
a pure Zen Yankee candle, my flame a vow
to save all sentient beings, beginning with myself.
I also take it into the vast playgrounds
of distraction, confusion, intoxication, desire,
drugged by anxiety and second guesses,
and deep into television’s alternative wilderness.
What a beautiful war I wage,
the two poles equal magnets,
perfectly matched, married—
my own perfect paralysis.
Present then absent then present,
I inhabit the moment or do not.
It’s one continuous decision.
The waxwings don’t decide which insects
to eat tonight, nor wind pause to think before
clouding the mirror of the trees.
They leave no monuments.
Me, I’m always forsaking one place for another,
breaking branches to mark my way home,
taking leave of the tall grasses
heavy with seed-heads I crush underfoot,
birches vivid in storm-light, dogs just groomed,
fearful of thunder under the desk.
I smell garlic. Russell is making a marinade
for the trout he’ll grill beneath an umbrella.
I realize, then forget, then realize that mind
is an ax that splits the one continuous moment.
Lightning! Scared dogs! Dinner! Brook music!
My eye goes home to the pond,
the bluestone slates I laid in the low places,
rain-shining their way to the water.
from Genji Monogatari
XXIII. The First Warbler
The first events in the nursery are metamorphosis & settlement. Vertical fluxes may vary depending on the timescale; but all retain the essential features of prediction equations—satisfying the conservation of mass & total energy. Any method that alters the data, whether by swapping, random noise or erasure decoding, is rejected by the differential circuitry. A monosyllabic type must produce harmony if the enclitic is unelided. As yet, there are no significant rock/non-rock preferences.
It's all pretty standard practice, but motorcycle seats can be very uncomfortable so it's no surprise that a lot of money & brainpower are going toward customizing supply chain solutions. Now restrooms are open to the public & are wheelchair accessible. The saving grace of the nuclear family in history was the extended family that surrounded it.
By the time that David Bowie took his final bow from the whole touring scene at London's Hammersmith Odeon in July 1973, efforts to bridge the gap between phenomenology & the principles derived from perturbative & nonperturbative quantum chromodynamics (QCD) were an essential part of American pop culture.
New Year's Day this year fell on the Day of the Rat. The force between quarks does not diminish as they are separated.
XXXIX. Evening Mist
The mine closes
down. So, too,
a line of verse
that ends with
syllable. It's a trial
& error tuning
part of the fuzzy
rule design for
reactors. He has
harnessed one to
power the three
lights he is using
to take photos
of his daughter's
in real time such
hands tell western
stories & recite
during dinner. The
is almost over.
Disappearance is an illusion.
What has been still is
in other forms.
Even in the waste of its endings
remains are there.
If the color, the material, the form change,
what has been has not disappeared.
The earth in its turning
does not relinquish
the petal that falls,
the leaf that graces the ground,
the old man in his coffin.
All all remnants of what have been
still are ever evolving.