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, July 2, 2012

Arkadii Dragomoshchenko: Paper Dreams, for Jerome Rothenberg

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

Translation from Russian by Genya Turovskaya

Black paper dreams of its own
inaudible rustle;
its own reflection in white.
Heat drowsily gazes at heat
through the panes of passion.

Metamorphoses of water.
Carrying reflections
down to the bone’s marrow,
the mirrors of droplets dry up.
Black paper dreams
of black: its dream constrained
by the nature of non-color.

Through the membrane--
the single-mindedness of repetition,
through the body--the needle flies,
bereft of thread, of decay.
Shadow falls upon brick walls.
The gematria of melting,
of exclusions.

The letter dreams of the same
paper's rustling,
in which hearing distinguishes
the contours of a poet,
who dreams of Hasidim
burning out as a page of song
on the stones of the ocean,
reducing vowels to gesture.

The dream dreams a dream of consonants,
the page--
where black assumes
the limits of incision--
dreams of the borders of the letter, mica, light.

I love to touch with my lips
the tattoo at the stem of your shoulder,
(the calendrical whirl of the Aztecs),
so that word may open to word.
Again there isn’t enough money,
images of sand and wind,
to buy wine.

Each dream, exposing
the honeycombs of visions,
engages thread into motion:
fingers slipping downward 
(Guétat-Liviani, Frédérique)  
spin a cobweb  
              --the tenderness of violence--  
the ethereal fabric of recognition
 in intensity and indication.
However quiet
your voice may be.
However much it fills coincidences
with hesitant executions.

The fingers dream of the keyholes
of song, exuded by stones,
that see in their dreams
the azure salts of the sun,
the blade’s whistle, water’s branch,
that see in their dreams
skin, celestial bodies, teeth,
the tattoo of indistinct speech
on the standards of breathing--
such are
the touch of tongue to tongue,
of saliva to tongue;

such are the outspread arms and legs
of a man and a woman,--
the golden mean on the book’s cover,--
who dream of pages
over which the night saunters,
and the night is dreamt by speech,
like the throat of heavy light
and the sign’s endless ribbon
that engirds those who are
slowly bringing their hands together
as if the fingers grope for something else in the bend.

A desert,
imprisoned in touch.

Wine sees in its dreams
all the forementioned things,
that cross into diminution
along the steps of un-thinging,
(an unhurried narration),
and I, examining the wine
that lives in glassy limits,
like the threads
of fusion and touch,
falling from the fingers
toward the puppets of flight
in the gardens of noontime tortures.

The sign--is the quietest razor of darkness.
Wine has no “right”
no “left.”  Death
has no name--it is only a list,
the spilling over of the two-way mirror,
where the equal sign is rubbed away
to the differentiation
between man and woman.

[note. Arkadii Dragomoshchenko came to us first as a  samizdat/underground poet, his lines & gestures signaling an opening to new discoveries & freedoms in what had been the closed world of the Soviet superstate.  That freedom as a poet resided squarely in the heart of his poetry – its language & form serving as the conduits for thoughts & realities previously obscured.  With that much behind him his work emerged on the American poetry scene through the good works of Lyn Hejinian & a number of other poets closely or loosely connected with the Language Poetry movement.  That his poetry is remarkable on its own terms should be evident – the summary by Marjorie Perloff clear enough:  “For Dragomoshchenko, language is not the always already used and appropriated, the pre-formed and prefixed that American poets feel they must wrestle with. On the contrary, Dragomoshchenko insists that ‘language cannot be appropriated because it is perpetually incomplete’ ... and, in an aphorism reminiscent of Rimbaud's ‘Je est un autre,’ ‘poetry is always somewhere else.’” (J.R.)

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