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

Thursday, July 21, 2011

David Meltzer, from When I Was a Poet (2011): “French Broom”

Allow me these fragments
They are my poem
My poem is pieces
Here & there
Chips off the old blockhead
One wall cracks apart
Not from despair but rain
Plaster falling on the floor
Reminds me of a poem
I write whenever I get
Time to sit down.

*

Others balance by
Kneeling to pray
I allow them their poem
This is mine
A patchwork poem
Pathwork
Dream flesh sewn to
Flesh of wounds whose edges
Cut against the mouth
Don’t turn away.
My blood mixes with plaster
Sealing the poem together.

*

One letter, one word
One line at a time
Held in the page
When I sew pieces together
They remain fragments.

Typewriter strikes paper
Needle thru cloth
Allow it.
My grandmother was a seamstress
My grandfather a tailor
My father sat before his table
Sewing jokes into the air
Something like satori
To think of it
Splinters my brain.
No judgment
Let me be with my pieces
Spread upon my table

*

A puzzle no matter
How I move it
Never solves itself.

*

Time unbends me
My fragments make no difference
They are children
Laughing against knowledge
Shadows grow large in the field
My window watches
Sunset swallow song
Stars arise
Page after page of my book
Writes thru time
Lights sewn together
My poem is bits & splinters
Darkness allows me.

*

Into dawn
The door opens.
Quail in pairs
Wobble out for seed
Scattered like stars
In random swirls around the green
Grace of bamboo
Moving supple in the wind.

*

Question my poem
For words to describe it
The page is in pieces
Praises, sorrows, joys
Corny sincere
Spirals of aura dust
Fragments & whispers
Thumb book of holy hints
All are my poem
& they bend to a moment
Ready for distraction

*

Breeze
White clouds
Blue sky
Yellow buds
French broom
Opening.
*
[NOTE.  My own celebration of Meltzer’s life & work appears elsewhere in Poems and Poetics as the pre-face to David’s Copy, his 2008 volume of selected poems.  In the present instance the work continues with a new book, When I Was a Poet, that brings together poems both new & old – “a primal book,” writes Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “[with which] Meltzer takes his place among the great poets of his generation.”  It is also volume 60 in City Lights’ fabled Pocket Poets Series, to which I owe my own first publication & my ongoing gratitude for the work of others whom I first read in this format.  The poem printed here gives a hint of Meltzer’s grace of mind & the life of poetry that underlies it; the book makes the case complete. (J.R.)]

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