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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Jerome Rothenberg: Seven Flag Poems

please note. a list of postings after january 12, 2012 can be found here

La Primavera

salute, compadres,
the flag of the great
            mother of us all
the goddess of america
raised high
salute her puffy
& parched cheeks, her banners,
nipples on the rise,
the ever benign crocuses that mark
the triumph of spring
in the beauty of the word primavera,
the day is terminal,
the goddess appearing for the party
stumbles & retreats,
she sends a spray into the air
& lets it fall,
sad & dependable,
the civic band plays up
the stars & stripes

Flag Poem One

sad flag     fat girl
straddles a pump
her knees under her breasts
into each life a little
solitude     the juice
of energies seeps through
“Make love beneath it”
sighs my heart
the red eye of her vulva
staring back

Flag Poem Two

the mystery behind
the weave     a star in place
right where the eye should be
blazons the prayer
the patriot wears over his heart
& shows the world
america in moonlight
tiny dervishes
how sticky are their tongues
tonight     how bright
their spangles

Flag Poem Three

the barber is a proud man

in his hand
a flag moves, driven
by the wind

 the children of the lower states
cry out

o patriots’ dreams
o alabaster cities

Flag Poem Four

over the city sleeps
the goddess
over the goddess
sleep the stars
& stripes
the universal flag
flaps on, the monstrous voice
resumes old energies
wrapped in the cosmic wind

 Flag Poem Five

flag mother sits
atop the hill
her cigar is a wandering star
her breasts balloons
with wavy stripes
up her abutments
red & white
they cover her body in the sky
like blood & milk
a baby patriot
plops from her womb

Flag Poem Six

“release the flag”
they tell him
“no” he roars     retreating
to the farmhouse
he holds the varmints off
his fickle eye against the siding
“I repeat my stance
“I howl for ye
“proud little sisters, little stars
the evening slinks away
the cowboy stands
kneedeep in banners

Flag Poem Seven

the time called
hour of the flag
has struck     how bright
& fortunate
the crowd now can advance
with shiny shoes
their eyes
like the eyes of children
or like the eyes of dogs
they are a faithful crowd
& each one
waves its tiny flag
the sign of their admission
to this crowd

A Note on the Preceding.  When in 2008 I fused two books of mine, Poland/1931 and Khurbn, and added to those a third, The Burning Babe, to make a single volume (Triptych) for New Directions, I inadvertently let the “other poems” in the original Khurbn & Other Poems go effectively out of print.  Looking back at those now in the course of preparing a large reader of my work for Black Widow Press, I feel a strong desire to reclaim at least some of them & bring them into some form of contemporary circulation.  The small series, above, which goes back to a Reaganesque period of patriotic flag waving, seems to me to be a kind of poem I would continue to write today – the national disease to which it speaks still with us, still calling forth an old poetics of disgust (T. Tzara) in answer.  The year of a new presidentiad (2012) – with its attendant tea party clamors & patriotic bromides – seems like a perfect time to try it.

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