…as every instance comes just once
with mix of mineral and grease,
what Hopkins chose to call inscape,
or individuation, sounds
so close to terror you’d confuse
the two, as if the finest ad
the rarest blend would come with just
a hint of fear or pain, the sting
and shiver of revulsion with
the savor of the earth and sun,
of this once, not returning, sung
for this one ear, on this one tongue.
You always “take me to yr hearts”
moon lit sweet after unearthly
whiskered tree-love trusted
with my small horns
Such a mood flower sequined
feet padding about
No I do not want to see
pictures of your white progeny
the seawall, I feel waves and wind beating
against the island’s rocks and shoulders,
I see citizens filled with sorrow that expands
as water orchestrates their slow effacement.
Just as I arrive home, two salesmen accost me.
They want to sell me my preternatural face.
They tell me that although time is running out,
I can still find happiness, romance, and eternity.
I reply that I believe in an impersonal life,
I’m hermetic, and my blood is on fire.
I would drink the kool-aid
I would and you?
delivered it in a poem
I drank it through my ear
a little milk saucer my ear
now there is water
in there I am shaking
like a dog
with my small head
trying to rebuild
our lives recalibrating
a vestibular system
my head in the sky
the tattered flags
a palm tree stupidly
It’s Thursday. I’m ticking off on fingers the short list of those who know I’m here, men first, then women. Dull carp of the viewer’s flesh. Plaster sexton, nightmare for shepherds. Salesmen assure each dark couple this river won’t rise. For every Kosovo let there be a Star Wars, for every madam a mite. The guards there all smoked Lucky Strikes. Strange mercy in all sweetness: single apple ripening on a wooden sill (crisp flesh, stark vein). Dew on the suckle, honey on the dew. Facep(l)aint and vinegar. Mary and her stuttering bride.
I am pure and simple. I was born with an
I for Interloper deep in my heart
and my complexities and incompatibilities
are resolved in the consommé of my dreams.
In the National Aquarium west of Havana
three black girls with purple lips
pronounce the Spanish names of the fish
and ask me to pronounce the English names.
We step out to the beach and look across
the unearthly bright sea and shudder to think
Key West is so close it makes the nose twitch.
Reachable, near and unlost amid the losses, this one thing remained: language. This thing, language, remained unlost, yes, in spite of everything. But it had to go through its own loss of answers, had to go through terrifying muteness, had to go through the thousand darknesses of deathbringing talk. It went through and gave no words for that which happened; yet it went through this happening. Went through and was able to come back to light “enriched” by it all.
—Paul Celan, from a speech he gave in Bremen (Tr. Rosmarie Waldrop)
I have struggled since the beginning to drive my thought out into the landscape of science and fact where other people converse logically and exchange judgments—but I go blind out there. So writing involves some dashing back and forth between that darkening landscape where facticity is strewn and a windowless room cleared of everything I do not know. It is the clearing that takes time. It is the clearing that is a mystery.
—Anne Carson, from Economy of the Unlost
Dreams are seldom visions.
Those voices come
from down the hall and trees in darkness
are still trees. Anything
that keeps us up at night
becomes desire: a fond reminiscence
of branched lungs, fluttering
aortic arch. Radiation gossips
her body’s private life. Black
tangled swells, somnambulist poppies
bloom with the natural violence
of a thing washed up on shore.
Doctor, doctor, voyageur:
her heart is a map without rivers.
how can you doubt both yourself and the world at once?
you can’t stop the rain, can’t get a bird to land in your hand
thought’s like a knife, a flick of the blade
drenches my spirit in sweat
I drive out thirty contentious philosophers
and say to the shadow who guards me, I’m sorry