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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Arie Galles & Jerome Rothenberg: Graffite (Complete)

A few years ago I began to engage with the artist Arie Galles in a series of poems  to accompany three “suites” of his drawings (twenty drawings in each suite).  Now, under the title “Graffite: Three Suites after Images by Arie Galles” he has posted all sixty poems & drawings on his web site, sidestepping or postponing publication by any more traditional means. 
        My own pre-face to the work reads as follows: “For some time now I’ve been working with Arie Galles on Graffite, a three-part series of graphite drawings with poem accompaniments: MoonFields, CloudPoems & PepperTree, in that order. Here, with the exception of MoonFields (abstract circles & lines), Galles’s images begin as black & white photographs that he then translates, as with his monumental 14 Stations, into three sets of twenty graphite drawings each, to which are added twenty poems of mine as linkages. My own procedures, after the fact, are largely improvisational, speaking to his images while maintaining a sense of distance & independence. To borrow from the medieval Japanese, the principle here is not one of direct comment or illustration but of something like juxtaposition &/or collage ‘wherein it does not matter that the upper and lower part are put together in a seemingly unnatural & arbitrary way so long as they cohere in the mind.’ In the dance between us, it is he who leads and I who follow, hopefully always in synch.”
        The whole work is now freely available, for any & all who want to see & read, at

Cloudpoems XI
                                         look down
                                           & see
                                           to the eye
                                           are only

                                           the earth below
                                           in the mind
                                           is only

Moonfields II
                                          life has spirit, death
                                            has only chalk

                                            with chalk a word
                                            is written

                                            but not by you

Peppertree III
                                         ferns & rind
                                          the black a distance
                                          deeper than a star

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