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

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Jerome Rothenberg: Five Dream Poems, Recovered

[I’m turning on today’s Poems and Poetics to some unpublished poems of my own, in which, over the years, I’ve carried along the common enough practice of using dreams as a source of poetry, sometimes as given, sometimes with multiple changes.  For me this links up most closely with our Surrealist predecessors but also of course with the far deeper poetics of shamanism, which I’ve been lucky enough to explore going back to the days of Technicians of the Sacred and Shaking the Pumpkin. The thin line between waking & oneiric writing is one that we’re still tempted to cross & that takes on many different guises in the crossing.]

Dream Poem
A Fragment

Those who must wait, wait.

The machinery attended to,
the sheets turned back,
the steam released into the air,
the dirty particles released.

I am the foreign engineer,
the shirtless one.

I search where you are,
and I sweep
the absent leaves.* 
* [the ancient leaves]

Dreaming of Buddha
A Fragment

the sky intersected
by two buddhas

strange to say
& beautiful

as when we dream
the particles

fall into place –
each finds its hole

its wholeness only now
allows it

& we’re helpless
to do more

the dream of buddha

Blue Dog Poem

He bit me,
a blue dog,
& leapt
down from the blackened hills,
he clattered.
Blue dog
had a voice.
Call it elliptical.
Call it proud.
What possessed us
to be in love
when there were tombs
on top of tombs?
A little bird
has whispered us
to sleep.
How phantom rich
my life becomes
empty or full.
It is the fact of life
that stirs me,
not its demise 

Abattoir                                                                                                                                                                                after Robert Doisneau

a man looks at
a cow’s head
all white

its eyes are shut
it sleeps
in death

“we were the lords of what we locked in place
                                                                        after Reverdy

A hand opens

            High & dry & curved over the roofs
            The loss of memory takes hold

            Slogans go rapidly from bad to worse

     Life’s got no chance
Something you push away & it attacks you

A fact
     Night as it withers springs to life
        Grows like a sponge
Flags fluttering restored
            So everything is threatening to die

A hill looms up & still you turn from it
                                          Not moon enough
        But where the street has opened up is where our bodies
                                        Come into sight
Eyes wide to everything
We were the lords of what we locked in place
Our groans died back in us
Sounds stayed unsounded
                                    All that was once still is
Nights shutting down at nightfall
            Too late the lonely ghost springs back to life
Beyond the fissures where men pan for gold

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