To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
.......................................again
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Jerome Rothenberg & Arie Galles: GRAFFITE, Three Suites, after Images by Arie Galles, Part Three, "The Pepper Trees"

 [Continued from previous postings on Poems and Poetics, here and here.]

 Part Three

 THE PEPPER TREES

                          They are gone, the pepper trees

                                                F.G. Lorca


1

the more a man’s arms

stretch

to reach the woman’s

 

& the branches

can no longer bear

their weight

 

 

2

moss is foremost

if the mind will entertain

matters of fact

 

a tactile splendor

 

 

3

ferns & rind

the black a distance

deeper than a star

 

 

4

heavy as a heave

the layered cork & wood

cry out to you

 

or is it only

something furtive

hidden

 

in your heart?

 

 

 

5

at the side a shadow

like a child

beside the fallen bodies

 

the last chance

for sleep

 

 

6

serpentine

a limb athwart

coiled branches

 

forest dreams

& shiny shadows

 

 

7

is there a black hole

here on earth?

 

a place so deep

that even leaves

turn black

 

 

8

spiny dust

over the swollen

bark

 

the hairy wood

is like a man’s flesh

or a woman’s

 

 

9

a memory of where

we lived & swung –

our place in nature

 

 

10

to seat yourself

inside it

ache of trees

& ache of majesty

 

he who falls

recovers grace

only a little

 

 

11

the ferns take over

& the question

rattles our minds

 

where have the bodies

gone    where

in the world is love

 

 

12

plain in our sight

the black hole

carved into the center

limbs askew

 

more what the woman gives

a field of light

below her

 

down where the world

takes root

 

 

13

they dance together

taut arms rising

from dark trunk

 

in front of which

the dancer

leaves her shadow*                          * her meadow

 

eager to draw him back

 

 

14

that which is lost

leaves only a wound

behind

 

the mystery of light

more than the mystery

of something lost

 

the memory of where

we were

guarded by snow

 

a scar that will not heal

 

 

15

between an island

& the main

blind spring arrives

 

the strange allure

of black on white

 

drives color from the brain

refraction from the eye

 

 

16

is every image that we see

seen from a height

 

& every block of wood

as stiff as stone*                               *as bone

 

receivers & believers

we let the shadows go

 

 

17

counting by threes

is learnt by rote

nohow forgotten

 

more as a number known

by comrades

than by a bride & groom

 

the tallest tree of all

no taller than

those that surround him

 

the way that every count

leaves space & air

between

 

 

18

brought back to earth

the sadness

of mute nature

 

waiting for the dead

to rise & shine

 

 

19

like stony ridges

schist & caulk*                                  * chalk

no sign of verdure

 

but the layers

stacked   each one

atop the next

 

offers a broken wall

a perch for demons

 

 

20

eggs dropped

along the way

or hanging from

the rotted bark

 

a bed laid bare

the rank turd

lies within

firm in its nest

 

eggs & turds

the rest is barely

bark & sunlight

 

traces of a life

long gone

 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Cecilia Vicuña: Word & Thread, with commentary on quipoems etc.


 translated from Spanish by Rosa Alcalá

[reprinted from earlier posting on Poems and Poetics, in recognition of recent recoveries & discoveries]

Word is thread and the thread is language.
Non-linear body.
A line associated to other lines.
A word once written risks becoming linear,
but word and thread exist on another dimensional
.....plane.
Vibratory forms in space and in time.
Acts of union and separation.

*

The word is silence and sound.
The thread, fullness and emptiness.


*

The weaver sees her fiber as the poet sees her word.
The thread feels the hand, as the word feels the tongue.
Structures of feeling in the double sense
of sensing and signifying,
the word and the thread feel our passing.

*
Is the word the conducting thread, or does thread
.....conduct the word-making?
Both lead to the centre of memory, a way of uniting
.....and connecting.
A word carries another word as thread searches for
.....thread.
A word is pregnant with other words and a thread
.....contains
other threads within its interior.
Metaphors in tension, the word and the thread
.....carry us beyond
threading and speaking, to what unites us, the
.....immortal fiber.

*

To speak is to thread and the thread weaves the
.....world.

*

In the Andes, the language itself, Quechua, is a
.....cord of twisted straw,
two people making love, different fibers united.
To weave a design is pallay, to raise the fibers,
.....to pick them up.
To read in Latin is legere, to pick up.
The weaver is both weaving and writing a text
that the community can read.
An ancient textile is an alphabet of knots, colors
.....and directions
that we can no longer read.
Today the weaving no only "represent," they
.....themselves are
one of the being of the Andean cosmogony. (E. Zorn)

*

Ponchos, llijllas, aksus, winchas, chuspas and
.....chumpis are beings who feel
and every being who feels walks covered in signs.
"The body given entirely to the function of signi-
.....fying."
René Daumal
A textile is "in the state of being textile": awaska.
And one word, acnanacuna designates the clothing,
.....the language
and the instruments for sacrifice (for signifying,
.....I would say).

*

And the energy of the movement has a name and
.....a direction: lluq'i,
to the left, paña, to the right.
A direction is a meaning and the twisting of the
.....thread
transmits knowledge and information.
The last two movements of a fiber should be in
.....opposition:
a fiber is made of two strands lluq'i and paña.
A word is both root and suffix : two antithetical
.....meanings in one.
The word and the thread behave as processes
.....in the cosmos.

The process is a language and a woven design
.....is a process re-
presenting itself.
"An axis of reflection," says Mary Frame:
"the serpentine
attributes are images of the fabric structure,"
The twisted strands become serpents
and the crossing of darkness and light, a
.....diamond star.
"Sprang is a weftless technique, a reciprocal
action whereby the interworking of adjacent
elements with the fingers duplicates itself
above and below the working area."

The fingers entering the weave produce in
.....the fibres
a mirror image of its movement, a symmetry
.....that reiterates "the concept
of complementarity that imbues Andean
.....thought."

*

The thread dies when it is released, but comes
.....alive in the loom:
the tension gives it a heart.
Soncco, is heart and guts, stomach and conscience,
.....memory,
judgement and reason, the wood's core, the stem's
.....central fiber.
The word and the thread are the heart of the
.....community.
In order to dream, the diviner sleeps on fabric
.....made of wik'uña.

A Note on Cecilia Vicuña: An artist/poet of multiple means, she has worked with films, installations, & performance pieces, & has moved between her native Chile and New York City over more than three decades. In this work she draws not only from modern & postmodern contemporaries but from (principally Andean) shamanism, oral traditions, mythology, & herbal lore ("ancient and modern texts which help me to understand what I had seen"). The unraveling & weaving that (in her own description of it) characterizes both her written & visual work draws from an almost limitless range of sources, mixing her words with those of others (old & new) in an assemblage or weave of words conceived (like "the sacred Quechua language," she tells us) as knots & threads (quipu in the old terminology, quipoems in hers). If this is a central metaphor for her, the sources for her words are given also as acts of vision in which (she writes) "individual words opened to reveal their inner associations, allowing ancient and newborn metaphors to come to light." And further: "To approach words from poetry is a form of asking questions. // To ask questions is to fathom, to drop a hook to the bottom of the sea. // The first questions appeared as a vision: I saw in the air words that contained, at the same time, both a question and an answer. // I called them ‘divinations.’ And the words said: the word is the divination; to divine is to ascertain the divine."

And quoting therein our brother poet Octavio Paz: I don’t see with my eyes: words are my eyes.

[Note adapted from J. Rothenberg and P. Joris, Poems for the Millennium, volume 2]

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Jerome Rothenberg & Arie Galles: GRAFFITE, Three Suites after Images by Arie Galles, Part Two

 PART TWO

TWENTY CLOUD POEMS

                                      But none of them paused,
                                     none of them wanted to be a cloud

                                                            F.G. Lorca


poem (1)

 among the clouds

one face appears

 

a world of babes

& shadows

 wrapped in its caul

 

cloud poem (2)

 stretched out in coils

the bodies of the lost

lie dormant

 

 babes as fair

as paradise

who sleep their dreams

 

so hard to lend an eye to

& to look inside

to see the earth below

 

more like the sky

when turning softly over

the blue above

 

goes grey

 

cloud poem (3)

 inside the grey world

black eyes open

 

black lips

lie in wait

 

ready to suck down

the lights

 

the white

an opening more real

 

than morning

a limpid hole

 

cloud poem (4)

 the dead return

 

the nearly dead

lie sleeping

 

keeping a line

between them

 

hungry, mutilated

faces lost

 

ghosts wrapped

in gauze

 

& set in rows

like sleepers

 

cloud poem (5)

 land breaking through

at last    at sunset

 

at the breaking down

& folding up

 

of borrowed

time

 

cloud poem (6)

to be a cloud

face up

against the other

brighter cloud

 

more like an animal

a life gone by

who would not

rather be?

 

cloud poem (7)

 denial

where the winds rush

lifting bodies

like false clouds

 

from darkness

into light

& back

to darkness

 

cloud poem (8)

a god is easy

sighting

 

easy body

of a man

or woman

 

easy dreams

of power

 

from the side

where light

fades out

 

the face of night

is lurking

 

cloud poem (9)

 in flying

& the fear

of flying

 

stars pop up

then hide

their brilliance

 

in the shadow

little lives

fly by

 

& vanish

 

cloud poem (10)

 a wound first

or a slit

in time, in sex

 

a pool or lake

 

an island

flying past

 

a smaller body

& a larger

 

open jaws

 

cloud poem (11)

look down

& see

what

to the eye

are only

clouds

 

the earth below

forgotten

(almost)

in the mind

is only

earth

 

cloud poem (12)

lost habitat

through which

a fish

 

or snake

breaks loose

a vestige

 

blown across

the sea

& sky

 

the wish for life

nearly

unmans him

 

before he dies

 

cloud poem (13)

the lines

across the earth

escape us

 

at the center

where the clouds accrue

a white Dot


calld a Center                       (W. Blake)

 

cloud poem (14)

a fracture

like a mouth

 

a gash

in space & time

 

unstable

changing

 

mouth on mouth

 

cloud poem (15)

 to drift away

a cloud

no longer

 

lighting up

the sky

in triplicates

 

they vanish

where the night

begins

 

a smearage

smeared by hand

& darkened

 

cloud poem (16)

 to drown

& to be gone

forever

 

swallowed

by the tufts

of smoke

 

a hateful

morning

half alive

 

I do not want it

 

cloud poem (17)

beauty so great

the fear awakens

& breaks through

 

the lights

that should bring joy

bring terror

 

bodies

bumps in time

& space

 

all that they write

turns back on them

erased

 

cloud poem (18)

 now dark

the fingers of

one hand

glow past their time

 

an alphabet of sound

before all sound

goes black   condensing

colorless & cold

 

the ships leave harbor

in a flight

so bountiful

the night drifts by

 

cloud poem (19)

peninsulas like clouds

& clouds

like phantom fingers

 

freed from touch

the lines dissolve again

& now again

 

the gaps appear

like holes in time

ever anew

 

cloud poem (20)

the cloud as metaphor

makes me recoil

gliding above them

 

fearing a ledge

that will not hold

but succors me

 

only for now

this tender moment

vagabond

 

a paradise of clouds

that shrouds

the hell within*                                 *the life within

 

[Continued from previous posting & commentary on Poems and PoeticsFor the full set of cloud-poem images, you can check it on jacket2.org.]