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, January 21, 2011

Jerome Rothenberg: from Divagations, A Work in Progress

[A series of new poems with footnoted variant readings, scheduled for publication as a Big Bridge Press E-Book with drawings by Nancy Victoria Davis.]

The Birth of Time

Results run backward gathering in force until they end up in some sort of cavern miraculously well lit & everyone there feels surprise & wonder.

They are more like phantoms than like little men: a symptom of the way they cough & breathe.*

From the depths the girl at center rises, edges toward the stooping man & calls him father.+

She is a distant runner, trained to smash against the wind & carry on until some place draws nigh – where the whole point of speed is relaxation.#

It fits & lessens our predicament, although no final strategy permits it.

Even so.

My hand in yours allows a sleep in which each dream is like a hole in paradise.^

The more you fall through it** the more it takes you to the birth of time.++

* bob & weave........+ [maybe the stupid man is what you meant.]
# execution..... ^ a holy paradigm. .....** stall in it .....++ of rhyme.

A Field on Mars

Hunted from their places,* fierce+ & hungry# hordes & nomads plunge into our streets.

The word is desiccation, somewhere that was fertile once, & now, battered by a hostile wind, becomes a field on Mars, a world more lonely than the world allows.

Behold the grandmother, her skin a dirty grey^ as if the light were of a foreign color, absent, hidden from the hole in which she dwells.**

These are no children’s games – or are they?

Cards slapped on a table, thrown against a wall, brought as a pack down on the willing skin.

Saints alive!++

The call to battle rattles the savage mind, a premise from the present yet no less exotic.

Granted: that their funds are toxic comes as no surprise; that the lack of means betokens a further struggle; that nations once deprived rise in their millions.##

It is a thought on which to dwell, shaken^^ from sleep.

* pastures.... + skinned..... # angry.... ^ [trying to see it in his mind]
** she smells..... ++ [words that her ghost called forth] .....## with
their minions .....^^ rousted

1 comment:

Ed Baker said...


I 'read' "exotic" as "erotic"

" millions"
" minions"


back ti Mills' Mr. Pip ...
Great Expectations

"familiar figures on the river"