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

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

John Martone: Presence of All Colors

................................................for Jerome Rothenberg

my black wristwatch
my black pocketknife
my black chanting-box
my black rosary
my black flashlight
my black winter gloves
my black watch-cap
my black camera
my black typewriter
my black tyre-sandals
my black lamp wick
my black picture frame
my black tu’ pháp
my black shortwave
my black cassock
my black window
my black tooth
my closed eyes

• • •

failing to observe
failing to keep chaste

failing to go hungry
failing to keep sober

failing to turn home
failing to depart for the forest

failing silence
failing to utter

• • •

presence of all colors

indifferent to inside
indifferent to outside

equal to infinite
equally subzero

null & null
null & null

dream ending there
dream precipitating there

when wakening
when wakening

• • •

Lying in bed & seeing orange
Lying in bed & seeing blue
Lying in bed & seeing turquoise
Lying in bed & seeing green
Lying in bed & seeing pine
Lying in bed no longer asleep

• • •

Never speaking tiéng Viêt
Never speaking Hokkien
Never speaking Dzao
Never speaking Ede
Never speaking Bahnar
Never speaking Jarai
Never speaking Hmong
Never speaking Muong
Never speaking Nhang
Never speaking Nung
Never Speaking Sedang
Never speaking Tai
Never speaking Tay
Never speaking one

[This is the second set of poems by John Martone to appear in Poems and Poetics. On publishing the first set, “geometry,” I wrote: “[Martone] remains throughout our greatest living miniaturist -- his art a scaled-down work of nearly epic dimensions,” an appraisal I think that continues to be the case today. (J.R.)]

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