To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
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


                          They are gone, the pepper trees

                                                F.G. Lorca


the more a man’s arms


to reach the woman’s


& the branches

can no longer bear

their weight




moss is foremost

if the mind will entertain

matters of fact


a tactile splendor




ferns & rind

the black a distance

deeper than a star




heavy as a heave

the layered cork & wood

cry out to you


or is it only

something furtive



in your heart?





at the side a shadow

like a child

beside the fallen bodies


the last chance

for sleep





a limb athwart

coiled branches


forest dreams

& shiny shadows




is there a black hole

here on earth?


a place so deep

that even leaves

turn black




spiny dust

over the swollen



the hairy wood

is like a man’s flesh

or a woman’s




a memory of where

we lived & swung –

our place in nature




to seat yourself

inside it

ache of trees

& ache of majesty


he who falls

recovers grace

only a little




the ferns take over

& the question

rattles our minds


where have the bodies

gone    where

in the world is love




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




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




that which is lost

leaves only a wound



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




between an island

& the main

blind spring arrives


the strange allure

of black on white


drives color from the brain

refraction from the eye




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




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





brought back to earth

the sadness

of mute nature


waiting for the dead

to rise & shine




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




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
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
A word is pregnant with other words and a thread
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


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, 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-
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
transmits knowledge and information.
The last two movements of a fiber should be in
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 the cosmos.

The process is a language and a woven design 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


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,
judgement and reason, the wood's core, the stem's
.....central fiber.
The word and the thread are the heart of the
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



                                      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



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)


where the winds rush

lifting bodies

like false clouds


from darkness

into light

& back

to darkness


cloud poem (8)

a god is easy



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


to the eye

are only



the earth below



in the mind

is only



cloud poem (12)

lost habitat

through which

a fish


or snake

breaks loose

a vestige


blown across

the sea

& sky


the wish for life


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





mouth on mouth


cloud poem (15)

 to drift away

a cloud

no longer


lighting up

the sky

in triplicates


they vanish

where the night



a smearage

smeared by hand

& darkened


cloud poem (16)

 to drown

& to be gone




by the tufts

of smoke


a hateful


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



bumps in time

& space


all that they write

turns back on them



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



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]