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, August 12, 2014

Michael McClure, Jack Foley & Jerome Rothenberg: Writing Between the Lines 1955/2013/2014

[The following work began with Jack Foley’s writing “between the lines” of Michael McClure’s famous poem, “For the Death of 100 Whales,” first recited at the famed Six Gallery reading in 1955 San Francisco.  With my own proclivity toward collaborative writing & thinking I came into the process a few months after Foley, which stretches the time frame of the final work to the almost present.  Typographically McClure’s original poem appears in roman type, Foley’s responses in italic, & mine in bold italic.  The McClure poem of course is the true jewel in the crown, and “the rest,” as someone said, “is commentary.” (J.R.)] 
Hung midsea
Not Death,
Nor Life
Like a boat mid-air
The liners boiled their pastures:
at the poetry reading,
the sea before light,
The liners of flesh,
beautiful white hair
hanks coming loose
The Arctic steamers
straining toward shore 

Brains the size of a teacup
brain sizzling,
brain at my call,
Mouths the size of a door

The sleek wolves
the vowels and consonants
the words laid to rest
Mowers and reapers of sea kine.
of Ecstasy.
Eager & willing.
Sweet meat,
Pronged on my teeth
(Meat their algae)
Ecstatic mammal
Luminous fish
is still leaping
Like sheep or children
like a child or William Blake
like a sea or a firmament
 Shot from the sea's bore.
into the fantastical, deep azure of poetic consciousness,
the freaky passageways of times to come,
Turned and twisted
Flung blood and sperm.
blood, bone and sinew
ballots, bullets, barbers
into the precise
the paradise
Gnashed at their tails and brothers
contemplation of air.
of whales & mothers.
Cursed Christ of mammals,
Burning Babes in amber
Snapped at the sun,
drunk with the sun,
the sun lost in its waters,
Ran for the Sea's floor.
Door opener.

Goya! Goya!
Goya thrice!
Oh Lawrence
hottest blood of all
No angels dance those bridges.
of the birds, beasts and flowers,
everywhere concealed & known
Angelic presence.
Hidden from my ear & eye
There are no churches in the waves,
There is no church but this,
which is no church
No holiness,
no holiness,
no place to hide,
No passages or crossings
no “passages”
no “crossings”
From the beasts' wet shore.
but this man’s deep words in the crowded room.
from which no beast breaks free. 

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