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

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Jerome Rothenberg & Arie Galles: GRAFFITE, Three Suites after Images by Arie Galles, Part One



 For some time now I’ve been working with Arie Galles on Graffite, a three-part series of graphite drawings with poem accompaniments: MoonFields, CloudPoems & PepperTree, in that order.  Here, with the exception of MoonFields (abstract circles & lines), Galles’s images begin as black & white photographs that he then translates, as with his monumental 14 Stations, into three sets of twenty graphite drawings each, to which are added twenty poems of mine as linkages. My own procedures, after the fact, are largely improvisational, speaking to his images while maintaining a sense of distance & independence. To borrow from the medieval Japanese, the principle here is not one of direct comment or illustration but of something like juxtaposition &/or collage “wherein it does not matter that the upper and lower part are put together in a seemingly unnatural & arbitrary way so long as they cohere in the mind.”  In the dance between us, it is he who leads and I who follow, hopefully always in synch. (J.R.)



                        I was on the terrace, wrestling with the Moon

                                    – F.G. Lorca



a knife falls

in the water

grows a second knife


& over each knife

looms an eye –

my second eye trails off





life has spirit, death

has only chalk


with chalk a word

is written


but not by you





end it here,

the man says

as he puts his thumb on it


the thumb is raw,


the man is even now alone





easy sleep

easy rest


easier to be an animal

than not





after Nerval


like inserting two pictures

in a single viewer


(he writes)


then moving my hand as if

sketching my signature







rub this side of the chain

against that side


how many years before

the chain rubs out?





death has a taste

after we hear of it


a man’s taste

or a woman’s


a child’s taste

or a cat’s





someone slips below the sod


the grass grows over him


as if someone has died,

but no one stops to ask





a future poetics


with inspiration vanished

respiration took its place


is expiration next?





there is something

we like to hide


if not our tongues,

our eyes


if not our immortal souls,

our daily vices





easy sleep

easy rest


easier to be an animal

than not





go inside

look around you

come back out again





a rabbit sneezes with the desperation of a man

a knife drops inward with the sound of water





everything is possible

meaning nothing


and if nothing is possible

everything is too      





clap hands together


never forget

the lessons taught you


the value of a song





the place of resistance

has moved away from us


so that we’re running to keep up

& stumble





as many people

will be murdered this year


as were murdered

the year before





there is a constant

at the heart of things


that serves to keep

the universe in motion





the resistance is all the moon that’s left to us





the spirit of the dead

means nothing



[To Be Continued]

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