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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Jerome Rothenberg: A Round of Solipsisms

for my 86th birthday
He takes a book down from his shelf & scribbles across a page of text: I am the final one.  This means the world will end when he does. (from A Paradise of Poets)

the lie of consciousness
assails me    waking
in the early hours

shorn of dreams
the world reduced to what
cannot be told

& scarce remembered
I am walking

toward a patch of forest
then a tunnel
where a train runs

from my sight
heading for a depot
I will never reach 

what is a dream
& where is it located?

when it ends
a blackness
fills the place called mind

unseen   unheard
there is no world then
& no mind to tell us
searching for a name
the word is solipsism

what the man
almost a corpse
knows, dying

that the world will end
when he does

the real a lie
as well
(the man thinks)

to hold on
& falling back

he grabs for it
fearing as he does
its vanishing

the world without him
is no world
the stars no stars

the plot of land
under his foot
has no solidity

the water leaves
no water
& the air no air

when the imagination
fades    the fancy
takes its place

when all are gone
the mind shuts down
with scarce a trace

for David Antin

you have died
& still
the world goes on

the strangeness
felt by us
without you

where I train
my thoughts
on all I know

& knowing
that for you
the world has fled

as it will flee
for me & all
the others

when the mind shuts
& the world

shuts with it

the bloom of life
assaults me
when I fall
under its spell

happy to play
time’s fool
like other men
before me

wisdom is a lie
only the dead
can see through
& reject

the present
never there
the past
a trick of mind

how many worlds
we hold inside us
something to be shared
until it ends

inside the only
world I know
the power rests
with me

the flow of light
opens in images
& ends
in darkness

I try to find you
& the others
hearing my name re-echo
in another tongue

no one can know
or wrest from me
something I carry
until the fire starts

its hidden name
intended for me

An Exhortation –
for the Survivors

“how can there be
a world
without you?”

lightly asked
& wanting
nothing less

the years once lived
stay in the mind
only in bits

predict an image
not yet real
the hope of juncture

a contingency
foretold & closed
shutting us off

but different
when we come together
in your eyes

distant like mine
& knowing
that the end will come

to me
to you
the greater world

gone in a wink
& done
absent all care


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