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, August 25, 2021



axe and animal, all able

but bleeding by blunt barbarisms

creep cowering cunningly, craggily cancelled:

death does dutiful debts, defers

even evening’s edges.  Eleven eagles

fly furiously.  Four foxes, furred,

gorgeously groomed, grow grandiose, groan

however hard.  Headstrong hedonists, hairy

islanders in Italy, idiot inmates,

jeer Jewish jugglers, judicious Jainists,

Kantian killers, kowtowing krazy kat

lawyers, lesbian ladies, lowborn, lamenting,

mad mothers made masculine, mammals

no nereids nuzzle, not nymphs

or oracles, only on oceans

pretending.  Passengers plumb plangent prows,

quote quaint quintessences, quarreling, queezy,

religious reformers return.  Russian rabbis,

some sinister, sample smoked salmons.

Travelers, too tawdry, telegraph testaments,

upload unnatural utterances.  Useless utopians

vilify violent videos, volatile, vain

with whatever webmails we waken:

x-rays, xerography, xanadus, xenophobes x-ed.

Yet you yearn, youthful yammerers,

zygotes zonked zigzagging, zealfully zapped.


Jerome Rothenberg

c. 1978/2008

[N.B. Recovered previously and published in Jerome Rothenberg, Retrievals: Uncollected & New Poems 1955-2010, Junction Press, 2011.]




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