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, March 20, 2012

Jerome Rothenberg: Travel Notes, 2008, into an Unknown City

for Diane on her birthday 20.iii.12

into an unknown city where we take a bus with high sides with windows wide  & drive through highways suburbs & the city center in search of an elusive airport

An elusive airport – if it appears, then it does, & if it doesn’t, what is ventured? what is lost or gained?

A stranger in the seat across from me (where everyone’s a stranger) opens a box of almond sweets & keeps on eating.

The other one, who sits beside me, throws back his head lets his head drop & sleeps. 
                                                                                                                                                         Everyone is old, I think, but I am older.

In my sack I carry very little – mostly words on paper, scraps of clothing.

If I were lost now I would die of hunger, die of being too much lost.

There are so many people here & everywhere nowhere – people I can’t ever know – & yet the call for brotherhood (fraternité) burns in my brain.

Is someone watching me as I watch them?


the surround more often than the gum the sounds inside our throats

A village, as remote as any we had ever seen, now rose before our eyes & minds.

A frail consumer, any day as good as far, as fair as any other, taking  for a portion what the other hand held out.

He waits.

He calls a meeting between friends.

This is the time to come together, a time for sparks to rise into the overheated air.

He knows despair but will not let it fester.

It must come return to him & be relieved, though there is no one with the power, nobody left to call.

Small jottings, larger reminiscences.

He is alive immune to everything yet nothing seems to matter more than this.

So keep it coming, keep it for a namesake.

It is all & nothing, is it not?

A first step is the greatest thrill of all, a pause before a plunge, & then the smell the threat of the surround.                     

Profound as night, the outline of a city like a map, a paper with the streets in yellow & the avenues a blazing red.

I want to speak in my own voice but others intervene & speak through me.

Is this an oracle, is it a text a surround that beckons me from space?

Outside our boundaries others must still exist others with words & thoughts beyond our reckoning.

Meanwhile I keep on writing, waiting for the answers, which may never come.


if the work of another enters my dream his work is mine (after Picabia)

Sleep more sure rare, or raw than easy starts inside & blossoms running through the body’s cavity until it reaches arms & legs & head.

Its color is pink at first then green by stages never light & open to the sky for which it makes a quick horizon.

So much for the sickness which will find us soon or later, the penalty for life & friend to death.

The rub is in the way we speak we fail or driven mad by shadows  reach out to each other.

Everyone is now in reach, however shallow speech is, & we let the words erupt & snap shut on the other side.

Someone living in a small house tucked away is speaking with the kings of space.

Demise of distance soon to be announced, closer than ever now, more like a rush a crush of beings many sided, filling the corners of a life.

If the work of another enters my dream his work is mine.


time cuts the wings of love (Van Dyck)

Curtailed & curtained, the words not as precise as words from other books or times times or tomes.                             

He draws a breath & lets the world the words stream in. 

Poker-faced is what they said of him before he lived there long enough to prove it.

Always in denial, always in search of other ways to be.

A sweater keeps us warm more than the fire flame in loins & lungs.

The rest remains in memory, frightened careful to take another step & always falling backwards until the ground mounds up under his neck.

The urgency of flying lifts him.

It is this before & this until & this beside.

Time cuts the touch of fingers, the breath of life, the wings of love.

The past looms up before him, never more real, never the beacon to the promise of a happy end.                                       

His body keeps exuding light as if it were a sieve.

Then when it’s over someone raises a sign – a crushed sun, Artaud said, who knew the score or did he?


the past remembered is like the past remembered as a dream

The passage up a ladder leads to a room haunted by shades of black & white.

Engagement with a false surround has its own truth.

When I go around a corner someone is waiting lurking at a further corner.                              

The park at night is like another country battlements & bridges set ajar & threatening beckoning the passengers with vertigo.

Staring from the heights we see the war as entertainment like the chase, the story shown on film as just another story.

Friends past are still alive until the mind the heart no longer knows them.

The animals are in the center in a place so circumscribed that no one can escape.

The trap of repetition hurts like a protracted prefigured death a breath.   

This morning Shelley comes into my mind, tomorrow someone once a neighbor, looking for a passage out.

Torturers like children forcing the earth to speak.


a fear of falling, once  it breaks into the mind, stays fixed

How could I ever doubt you, black purple ribbons tied around your arms, eyes half open, signing peril?

Have a laugh & change the subject with a nod.

God enters first as joy & in the end as terror.

A man, to prove he’s real, will take the measure of another man, or stalk a woman till she fades from view.

To choose a color, thinking carefully fitfully of hues & tantrums, or measuring a hand.

Palms up, the wind against his cheek, he has a world to lose.

Always the cities disappearing brought back by the mind.

No less than where the people, once alive, had gone to.

If I could follow them, where would their bones their eyes  their ashes be?                                           
All night I have communion with them in the miracle that sleep brings, wistful necromancy in a waste of spirit.

I am who I am, no more to say.

completed 26.v.11

surround (noun): A method of hunting wild animals by surrounding them and driving them to a place from which they cannot escape.

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