My dear China
of me Margaret
dear god, it's me
I took you from your country
And spread you like shortening
between what's us
We did not penetrate
your land like a burning question
to which the vacation answered
Crossing the Frontier
"The lime in the midst of the heart"
They confiscated only the fruit trees.
They said everything was allowed
but orange juice in the morning.
Then why were there no radio,
no windows in the school buildings?
We told the truth, but nobody believed us.
Songs are not allowed as evidence.
When we departed, the sun came out.
We got a going-away party.
They took the tape off the old woman's mouth.
"this past was waiting for me when i came
i named it History
when she is strong enough to travel
on her own, beware, she will!"
"Willfully blind to the reality of their occupants. the states of Europe
struck up a consensus to consider the discovered territories as res nullius
and their populations as barbarians."
--Monique Chemillier Gendreau, "The Idea of the Common
Heritage of Humankind and its Political Uses"
without reservation or traveler's checks,
misled by its travel guides and my tour guide,
its dark children grabbing for my trunk,
a seaport I dream of and dread, because it excludes no one.
when its captain and crew drove us ashore,
where broken-wheeled rickshaws drawn by wild animals
pushed us everywhere but where we wanted to go.
but I had to wait the prescribed 30 days,
during which I slept on park benches and inner city flophouses,
washed in public baths and desperately attempted
to convert dwindling dollars, losing more of their value
every day. At last, some petty theft landed me safely in jail.
I'll put more catfood on the kitchen floor,
say my good-byes carefully
and bring my will up to date.
I've been thinking The New Russia or Peru.
The Weapons Inspector
One man is caught inside history
when he says goodbye to his wife
in a kind of code and walks out
into an Oxfordshire afternoon
with a razor in his pocket.
He may have felt a pounding
in his head, even there
in that sheltered lane,
or felt entirely quiet,
having made up his mind.
All we know is he smiled
at a farmer as he went past,
the way we reply to a neighbor:
"Just fine! How about you?"
when the world that day
is a gray waste before us.
Painting in Sushi Bar
Samurai, Shogun, Hara Kiri
sipping green tea in the sushi bar
crowd of headers, all eyes down.
chopsticks, raw fish, raw headache
from wine, beer. Screen, fan, Geisha girl
tightened at the soles of her feet
atom bomb, entrails, glints in her eye.
Shark fin soup shining in a moondance
of atoms, entrails, dancing moonlight
screen, fan, atom girl.
Your lower abdomen,
as a ball of air.
with my hands.
Bird chasing's about weight,
moving without looking, our body,
my body, placement,
My hands on top and bottom of
the imaginary balloon (cannot pop,
stun, disappoint, escape, air into air),
not exactly weightless.
Rather than sides, hands,
hips, your hips. Coordinate.
I make light contact
with your wrist
Roll back. Push.
you move separate
What Nostalgia Does to History
I'd like to picture us
walking down from the trees,
three or four years
back, when we weren't yet
engaged to be married,
and the sun was Hungarian
and we'd been walking for hours,
and what was then the future
lay flat and bright like the Danube
bend--a blue twist that worked out
fine, past ruined castles and ancient
hostilities--a geographic favour
in a landlocked land that yearns
for safe harbours.
She's laughing, I'm scared.
She's not even close
to thirty, I'm likely thirty-three;
if we have children, they'll marvel
we were ever like this--sunglasses,
hiking boots and our Evian bottles,
flushed at our first deer sighting,
bone-tired from the walk, and in love.
Fifty years before, fighters ran
through those woods, hid where we
spread a blanket and ate sausages,
were shot by Allied or Axis forces--
then you were either speaking Russian
or German, or taking order in them;
it's ages since that happened. Or is it?
Nostalgia is what narcissism does to history.
1956 sees hand-to-hand skirmishes in
Budapest, where we bought the flat
on "Goat Street" and met, every night,
to sleep together, complain, or fix
what we'd broken the day before.
You're at the Track
You're at the track
leaving the pari
window when this short guy
tugs your sleeve
hands you a tout sheet
you tip him
a buck and open it
zilch on the nags
instead there's a quote
to one says earth doesn't
get wiped out by
price is right
could be you'll lay a deuce
go for the chalk
but you check the past
earth's up to 200
it's bucking the odds
you lay off
the next race and go home
checking the sky
Unique users today entered a cryogenic chamber where also-rans go to spend
many years in suspended animation and to imagine a multitude of alibis. He said
he has been encouraged by the 'fairly tranquil' situation in the last six to seven
months and in order to keep permits intact that's how it was written. My character
is in suspended animation until her brother rescues her. "That was fine with me
because I'm no longer a child." said that the reform could create a 'two-tier' system
and leave some after entering a virtual reality game to try to shut it down. The game
with many of them starting, some concluding and nearly all wishing to do one if they
could go into a state of suspended animation. This sends the yeast into suspended
animation and allows some of the natural carbon dioxide that has been produced
during fermentation to break the ice that had sealed in a judicial nominee should not
be placed in a filibuster--all--nominees deserve an up-or-down action we'd support.
Something needs to be done to get Parole out of suspended animation. But unless
the property presents inevitably a lot of floaty, particularly around the repeated motif
of One hot and fresh, the perfect balance of the other returned from a state of far less
savory. A grounds crew continues to maintain meticulously the Lazarus of T-Birds
came to the market in 2001 with an oversupply of hype, an undersupply of chassis,
and I know it's most likely spoiled, but would freezing it kill any salmonella? Freezing
merely puts the bacteria in these data suggest that cells do not die after extended
periods of deprivation, but survive in a form with sufficient garbage department,
anticipating a huge change in funding, is also in a state waiting to see if the property
tax is adopted and I still have these books, relegated unfortunately to a box in the
basement. They are like friends waiting to be revived in a new age.
White as one color
to another, the noise
blossoms off path.
Path blossoms in sandy cobble,
in water's hatcheting down, white
where eddies root
in willowtops, the willows
drowned in eroded snow
A friend I haven't seen
or heard or heard from in twenty-seven years
hospitals this moment.
chides a loading-bay for its early autumn.
wholly particular ecstasies of the inattentive
behind boxes riles mendicant.
Black Holes (in memoriam: Ron Sukenick)
"I'm sorry to disappoint science fiction fans, but if information
is preserved there is no possibility of using black holes to travel
to other universes."
New York Times, Quote of the Day, July 22, 2004
A world in black and white. Months and months ago, she photographed
the drugstore behind construction. Wire netting. Cosmetics and film
processing readable in the window, if she looks close, along with
trees reflected. Huge white discs that seem ungrounded are nothing
more than gaps in the fabric, large enough a child could crawl through
them. One more broken schoolyard fence. One more ride on the seesaw.
The whole picture's angled. She could sit in the middle of one disc
like the kids do these days on round plastic sleds or whatever they
are, close her eyes, and take off. Except that, writing this, she gets
up to open a window, and is hit in the head by her brand new spider
pole lamp. The comic book version of sudden inspiration, except it
isn't funny. This is what we do for light.
for Bronwyn and Aaron
Say hope a
hope say whirl it might happen and the bad news you already
told me about the taxes you can always get married in Nepal,
or say coherence, it's overrated and practiced, what's the point
it's circular, have a good time, it's like forgetting, why should
I tell you, there's time for that too, or say capering, moving around
with a plan, maybe that was compelling, to be aimless in Thailand,
you can argue duration, you're lively, sure, in spite of the humidity,
now you're sleeping and the birds fall silent too, there's a suppleness,
maybe it's an accordion, maybe it's several voices and they're all
saying the same thing, only it's different, wasn't that a melody, the
song too, the one they sang, amazing, if you couldn't tap four, you
wanted to tap something, it came out of a radio, who needs a radio
when you know how to sing, riding around your arms hanging
out the windows, so you can say it, say it all the time, say it with
all your mouth, nights and weekends, say love or hope like "I
believe in carpentry," and we'll watch you build a house, we'll
watch you build a galaxy, we'll believe in the process itself, why not?
Why not say it? It's not so little, it's enough, more than enough,
it gives us hope when we have plenty of reasons not to have any.
After Tibullus I-x-53
fellow from overseas says "burning
motherfuckers makes a mess
picking body parts up
washing off sand
fellow says worse when
babies hit cement or rock
forty three em pee aitch
man that's a wind man
that's a wind
a wind like that'll wipe the
dead baby skin and muscles a bit
but not all on account of
poor us rock and
poor us means blood sinks in
not clean offn uh rock cement whatever"
i hear that
and I hear myself say
before I do my part
I better walk
did a walk
did some time
saw some shrinks did me
settled for an up yours discharge
fellow from overseas got a
sweet boy discharge
when he gets the hots
slaps his woman around
pulls out her hair
kicks down a door
she starts bawling
slapped in the face
you know what I mean?
he starts bawling too
on acounta being so tough and mean
both of them turned on
can't shut up...
maybe he shoulda stood in the fuckin army
sed veneris tunc bella calent, scissosque capillos
femina, perfractas conqueriturque fores
flet teneras subtusa genas; sed victor et ipse
flet sibi dementes tam valuisse manus
at lascivus amor rixae mala verba ministrat..
sed manibus qui saevus erit, scutumque sudemque
is gerat et miti sit procul a Venere
it's 3 a.m. tv information
blond girls, black girls, tractor trailer school
my life is so much better now
a whole new diet technology
outside terrace hums alert & pregnant
cats in back alley finding my sherry glass
i will have all future discussions in my vestibule
or via text messages
coherencies of android dreams
stumble door phone ring
there is a rhythm to knocking
did you ever count sheep?
in answer to the riddle
it's easier when i'm asleep
the sunset nowadays
carries me through rooms
where things this time
can go a different way
and you are swaying
in front of the piano
as if playing without hands,
the rising moon and you
in a struggle to shine
through the slanting air
--and we have no
nor thoughts of
as we turn on the radio
submerged in a river,
of hard sorrow
we are dragging the night
behind us while
the scarred moon
is muffled in clouds
in the shape of a hammer
--our meek words trickle out
as if yellow light
is absorbing the important
molecules and somewhere
the singing in Arabic has stopped
--the bed melts
and we begin to pace
in deep grief
the sleet the light and the way
it falls sideways and financial
times don't cover my legs
looks like a long walk from time
but i doesn't mind to time
i click my teeth envy wall
and roll my lungs drop cigarette
i'll be just fine i imaginary here
step one sure thing
Back in Brooklyn
New cafés on Montague Street. I sit
at the high counter facing passersby--
bright reds, yellows through the plate glass window--
warm weather in every turn of the head,
casual hip and shoulder. I miss you
and Jane though I was home an hour ago--
sunlight pouring across the bed, filling
up the yard. Tomorrow we'll all be home,
Jane home from school. This glistening blossom.
Degrees of Gray in Any Burg
All the time it took you to read it
across and down (left to right, you assume)
while all the words were there
existing at one time if you just looked
at the book. It took you too long! Meanwhile,
I was trying to figure out how to skip over
the picture that interrupted the words
right in the center, and how they made sense
from left to right even when I skipped over
the steeple, the frozen falling leaves
of mostly three colors rendered
off-white, pearl-gray, and charcoal
in the brilliant sky. Top to bottom
made sense too, despite a pregnant cloud
and eyelash rain beneath a simple set
of nouns and verbs, and manicured grounds
above a name, a being modified
by an adjective from its past. The sum
of the book was like that photograph
of earth from a spacecraft. Your glance
absorbed it all, but did you notice?
It's really odd
I'd not miss it for the world nor would I give the world
for it. Fortunately, I don't have to. That's where you
come in. This could be a love poem beneath a basket
of skies. Say, I want to speak to someone about a leak.
It's really a hemorrhage, leaching the vital fluids of
words into the world, what's left of it is hung out like
a dead pet to dry. This language is broken playground
equipment. Seizure of monkeys in the carpet. Cat as
death trap, neural paralysis of fleas, oblivion's hose, or
the vacancy in vacuum. Hello, "Tear me off some."
It's 5:15 a.m. "Goodbye, My Beloveds," Gorky's last
work, white chalk on painting crate. I could suspend it
from the beam in my living room. Abstraction as the
"experimental inspection of the hitherto unknown."
Sheila E. Murphy
I Get in Bed with Language
I get in bed with language
for pulse fresh coincidence
why so much flower
as the tincture comes to match
the hint of face paint
liable to entire itself with
drawn rain as effect
tricked from far running
water fallen to a pool
gathers concrete fact
a soothing bath
blessing to water
prey resumes wealth's
indignation smithed by
plague that saps
all fluency by heart
from Omnia, #10
Semicircle of a custom, unconnected few, counting by three
Sample the status quo-
tidien apart from what people say
they want, all may be present elsewhere
Smoking jacket, brass instruments, the distance
Of some decades, so the film shows
Horizontally, both top of screen and lower portions gone.
When you have matriculated to concurrent sessions
Often contrapuntally, there might be ovens to intake,
The piano rolls out softness
While the lips go numb, and animals become
The faint projection of human beings
Seemingly forever unattached
The level of light must be just so
If we're to fantasize, or there happens to be
A real element in this certainly leisureless plaintext,
Then the elements contrive to have been forward
March all over again, a leading economic indicator
Thought through partially infected by the surrogate wisdom
Of coquettish speech.
4 poems (translated by Rebecca Seiferle)
altura y pelos
¿Quién no tiene su vestido azul?
¿Quién no almuerza y no toma el tranvía,
con su cigarillo contratado y su dolor de bolsillo?
¡Yo que tan sólo he nacido!
¡Yo que tan sólo he nacido!
¿Quién no escribe una carta?
¿Quién no habla de un asunto muy importante,
muriendo de costumbre y llorando de oído?
¡Yo que solamente he nacido!
¡Yo que solamente he nacido!
¿Quién no se llama Carlos o cualquier otra cosa?
¿Quién al gato no dice gato gato?
¡Ay! yo que sólo he nacido solamente!
¡Ay! yo que sólo he nacido solamente!
height and hairs
Who doesn't own a blue suit?
Who doesn't eat lunch and take the streetcar
with his bargained for cigarette and his pocket pain?
I who was born so alone.
I who was born so alone.
Who doesn't write a letter?
Who doesn't talk about a very important subject,
dying from habit and crying from hearing?
I who alone was born.
I who alone was born.
Who isn't called Carlos or some other thing?
Who doesn't say cat, cat, to the cat?
Aie! I who alone was born so alone.
Aie! I who alone was born so alone.
Entre el dolor y el placer median tres criaturas,
de las cuales la una mira a un muro,
la segunda usa de ánimo triste
y la tercera avanza de puntillas;
pero, entre tú y yo,
sólo existen segundas criaturas.
Apoyándose en mi frente, el día
conviene en que, de veras,
hay mucho de exacto en el espacio;
pero, si la dicha, que, al fin, tiene un tamaño,
principia, ¡ay! por mi boca,
¿quien me preguntará por mi palabra?
Al sentido instantáneo de la eternidad
este encuentro investido de hilo negro,
pero a tu despedida temporal,
tan sólo corresponde lo inmutable,
tu criatura, el alma, mi palabra.
Between pain and pleasure three creatures mediate,
of which the first looks at a wall,
the second uses an animal sadness,
and the third advances on tiptoe,
but, between you and me,
only second creatures exist.
Leaning on my forehead, the day
agrees that, truthfully,
there's much precision in space,
but, if that happiness, which, at last, has size
begins, aie! in my mouth,
who will ask me for my word?
To the instantaneous sense of eternity
this encounter invested with black thread,
but to your temporal farewell
corresponds only the immutable,
your creature, the soul, my word.
Voy a hablar de la esperanza
Yo no sufro este dolor como César Vallejo. Yo no me duelo ahora
como artista, como hombre ni como simple ser vivo siquiera. Yo no
sufro este dolor como católico, como mahometano ni como ateo. Hoy
sufro solamente. Si no me llamase César Vallejo, también sufriría este
mismo dolor. Si no fuese artista, también lo sufriría. Si no fuese hombre
ni ser vivo siquiera, también lo sufriría. Si no fuese católico, ateo ni
mahometano, también lo sufriría. Hoy sufro de más abajo. Hoy sufro
Me duelo ahora sin explicaciones. Mi dolor es tan hondo, que no tuvo
ya causa ni carece de causa. Que sería su causa? Dónde está aquello
tan importante, que dejase de ser su causa? Nada es su causa; nada ha
podido dejar de ser su causa. A qué ha nacido este dolor, por sí mismo?
Mi dolor es del viento del norte y del viento del sur, como esos huevos
neutros que algunas aves raras ponen del viento. Si hubiese muerto mi
novia, mi dolor sería igual. Si me hubieran cortado el cuello de raíz, mi
dolor sería igual. Si la vida fuese, en fin, de otro modo, mi dolor sería
igual. Hoy sufro desde mas arriba. Hoy sufro solamente.
Miro el dolor del hambriento y veo que su hambre anda tan lejos de mi
sufrimiento, que de quedarme ayuno hasta morir, saldría siempre de mi
tumba una brizna de yerba al menos. Lo mismo el enamorado. Qué sangre
la suya mas engendrada, para la mía sin fuente ni consumo!
Yo creía hasta ahora que todas las cosas del universo eran, inevitablemente,
padres e hijos. Pero he aquí que mi dolor de hoy no es padre ni es hijo. Le
falta espalda para anochecer, tanto como le sobra pecho para amanecer y si
lo pusiesen en una estancia oscura, no daría luz y si lo pusiesen en una estancia
luminosa, no echaría sombra. Hoy sufro suceda lo que suceda. Hoy sufro
I'm going to speak of hope
I don't suffer this pain as César Vallejo. I don't ache now as an artist, a man,
or even a simple living being. I don't suffer this pain as a Catholic, a Mohammedan
or an atheist. I only suffer. If I weren't called César Vallejo, I would still suffer this
same pain. If I weren't an artist, I'd still suffer it. If I weren't a man nor a living
being, I'd still suffer it. If I weren't a Catholic, atheist or Mohammedan, I'd still
suffer it. Today I suffer from the furthest below. Today I only suffer.
I ache now without explanation. My pain is so deep, it had no cause nor
does it lack one now. What could have been its cause? Where is that former
thing so important that stopped being its cause? Nothing is its cause; nothing
could stop being its cause. What has this pain been born for, for its very self? My
pain is of the north wind and the south wind, like those neuter eggs which some rare birds
lay in the wind. If my sweetheart had died, my pain would be the same. If they had
cut my throat to the root, my pain would be the same. If life were, at last, some
other way, my pain would be the same. I suffer from the furthest above. Today I only
I look at the pain of the starving man and see that his hunger walks so far from my
suffering, that if I were to fast to death, at least a blade of grass would always sprout
from my grave. The same with the lover. How engendered his blood, in comparison
to mine without origin or consumption!
I used to believe until now that all things in the universe were, inevitably, fathers and
sons. But behold, my pain today is neither father nor son. It lacks shoulders to grow
dark, as well as having too much breast to dawn and if they put it in a dark room, it
would give no light and if they put it in a luminous room, it would cast no shadow.
Today, come what may, I suffer. Today I only suffer.
Intensidad y altura
Quiero escribir, pero me sale espuma,
quiero decir muchísimo y me atollo;
no hay cifra halada que no sea suma,
no hay pirámide escrita, sin cogollo.
Quiero escribir, pero me siento puma;
quiero laurearme, pero me encebollo.
No hay toz hablada, que no llegue a bruma,
no hay dios ni hijo de dios, sin desarrollo
Vámonos, pues, por eso, a comer yerba,
carne de llanto, fruta de gemido,
nuestra alma melancólica en conserva.
¡Vámonos! ¡Vámonos! Estoy herido;
vánomos a beber lo ya bebid,
vámonos, cuevro, a fecundar tu cuerva.
27 Oct. 1937
Intensity and height
I want to write, but out leaps foam,
I want to say so much and get stuck in mud,
there's no spoken cipher that will not be a sum,
there's no written pyramid, without a heart.
I want to write but feel myself a puma,
I want to laurel myself but stew in onions.
There's no spoken achoo! that doesn't end in mist,
there's no god nor son of god, without unfolding.
Let's go, then, this way, to eat grass,
flesh of crying, fruit of moaning,
our melancholic soul in jam.
Let's go! Let's go! I'm wounded.
Let's go to drink what's already drunk.
Let's go, raven, to impregnate your rook.
27 Oct. 1937
T H E H A M I L T O N S T O N E R E V I E W