Saturday, December 26, 1992

LETTER TO JAN, WINTER SOLSTICE

LETTER TO JAN, WINTER SOLSTICE


Fishing without hook or line in the subtle stream,
I practice the act of turning stones,
Turning them again to find clarity within.
The walls become an impassable mountain range,
The past, a crowded bed, a pentagram,
The evolution of friendship, an alluvial veil over bedrock.
These words rippling the muddy pond.

Sometimes in dreams I meet strangers .
The veil lifts, images, fragments, pieces of the puzzle.
But the gift of sight muddied our eyes.
The knowing without words. Do you ken this?
A raised cock, burning sage, fortuning desire
Worshipped in the old way, the longest night.

Tell me where friend ends and lover begins.
The verb  wal, stranger; we are strangers.
If we tear down this wall, will another rise? 
With these words we uncovered old patterns,
In that vulnerability we leaned closer
Towards concentric rippling haloes of light.

Nature abhors a vacuum.
The notes of the shofar horn bring
The strange ramparts tumbling into the sea,
Turning them back into stones of the field.
The dark pools, unfathomable—
Once we were inexorably proud mountains.
The river polishes us down to size.


1992?
rev. 2002 for Transfer Magazine




WOW, I found a submissions page for Transfer Magazine, and a digital copy of the poem. Problem, there are more MIA poems that I don't know about.... Yikes!


Yet another poem with a bad link...and aliases. Only exists on the page as hard copy. Need to retype it


Sunday, November 1, 1992

ESCRITORIO


ESCRITORIO
             Trabaja el mar en mi silencio.
                            —Neruda


The card you sent from Neruda's study in Valparaiso,
three months unread in my mailbox,
signed:…a long way from anywhere.
We couldn't get much farther apart—I must confess,
in a Vienna café, I also composed a card to you in my head.
(What would Freud have made of invisible ink on invisible paper?)
In Budapest, seeking a common idiom, a Rumanian poet
and I try to communicate in a handful of languages—
English, Magyar, Rumanian; the few German words I know,
absorbed one summer 20 years ago, break the ice
until we find a common yezik, or tongue—Russian;
we make apologies in the language of the oppressor.
It seems I always have the wrong tongue in my mouth.

You, red-diaper baby, who never learned to speak
of the self-imposed oppression, once asked,
Would you go underground with me if it came to that?
At the border between San Ysidro and Tijuana,
the red trolley, a flag to tease the bull. Toreador y tragaluz.
I didn't feel the sting of the banderias lodged in my neck,
nor see the angry blood escape the prison of my skin.
La verdad es comun como las piedras del mar.
The menorah, in the dust like a weapon.

A rare sunny afternoon in Amsterdam, a city of refugees—
Language rides the dust motes. We babble in tongues.
The North African, Seidhu and I only have Russian in common.
Moniel, his lover, speaks to him in French.
He drinks beer when his torture scars are hurting him,
Moniel explains to me in English. He is a man living in exile.
She and Vins argue over the role of women in Genesis
—a German edition—in Dutch. Missing the point,
Seidhu quotes passages from the Koran en françois.
I am spared the dogma of the Koran, but not of Islam.
I want a beer, Seidhu asks Vins's permission, I am some man's property;
the Sahara fills this room with the politics of sand.
The phone rings; he slips into Arabic, and something more tribal.
Asylum. I can see the indigo scars where they beat him,
his maw, a square hole devouring the light. Jópa!
The room can't contain so many languages
nor the batillion of beer bottles at the ready. Moniel and I
don't speak of the invisible scars of women.

To the Chilean poet who knows only español y italiano,
I speak a curious pastiche of Russian and Spanish;
transient verbs cross borders without passports or visas.
Some well-meaning friend gives me your latest book,
where I am reduced to the impersonal non-sequitor–you–
not tu, nor the formal usted. Who is nursing revenge
unto the next generation? Did the mountains rise slowly,
the words spill purlblind on the pages of Santiago?
Should I mention–after all these years—
the combination lock on my pack is still set to your birthdate?

Behind these sea walls, the hard labor of my solitude.
Yes, we are a long way from anywhere, cannot escape
the truth, common as the stones of the sea, the raised the wall.
The shofar horn sent the stones tumbling down.
victoriously back into the sea.


11/1992?



89?  to 92??
may be later, I think it was misfiled
ref to Poetry International  1994
Chilean poet: that could be Waldo 1996

ASCII code chewed up the end of the file.


























Saturday, September 19, 1992

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME


A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME


Write down what you need to remember:
I can't slip out of this mode.
I want to enter deeper into the molecular structure of the word,
the double helix spyrocheting through our genes
from the first fires, to the age of light.
And now we can't put out the flame.
It consumes us with a passion
until we are etherized against the stars,
climbing the spiral, exploding,
imploding, dividing, multiplying in geometric ecstasy
until the shining pyramids invert,
become the apex of the hole
that consuming blackness,
that sucks us into it,
that strips molecules from memory.
A hungry cancer feeding on light,
even quarks lose their charm.
We are limited by what we know,
and don't know,
our descent and metaphysical hunger
in the resonating cells, dialectical
notebooks, a brief history of time. 

date? 92?
9/19/90? CPITS? But I was in NM.
possibly 1992?


Sunday, September 6, 1992

APPROACHING THE ARGUMENT



APPROACHING THE ARGUMENT

Persistent as the flyswatter, 
already two wasps have fallen;
Sunday promises to be a three-wasp day.
The Protestant bells knell
extolling the piety that is Amsterdam,

and Cartesian logic of canals below sea-level:
who can outmaneuver the sand?
End of summer—the radiant enigma
of sun-warmed bricks yielding
to the icy vault of kitchen windows

still raises apparitions of endless hunger
droning toward our morning's commerce.
With the ceaseless clerical dance peculiar to wasps,
they bless unlikely converts: the empty yellow cup,
the slender black supplications of my pen

­on the familiar altar of paper.
Voraciously they worship stale food odors
with the same dogged zeal I tried to define love—
making such a nuisance of themselves,
the only alternative is a quick and simple death.

At first we tried to warn them; now we too
are indifferent to the tender compound equation
of a glass prison against the pane,
and the sudden freedom into open air.
Escape is temporary; they return,

and each according to the laws of nature,
we respond, sacrificing our daily wasps—
the flotsam of small corpses
in an encroaching sea
of stinging words.


6 Sept. 1992
 Amsterdam

2001 Fourteen Hills
1993 Green Fuse


Tuesday, September 1, 1992

CHRISTMAS IN YAMMOUSSOUKRO, 1991


CHRISTMAS IN YAMMOUSSOUKRO, 1991
       —from photographs by Jan Bogaerts
                      —for Jan

Imagine the basilica of St. Peter
rising from the African jungle
devouring the light of the Ivory Coast
in the village of Yammoussoukro:
this monument, a president's desire
cast in European stone.

Insignificant as an apostrophe against bright marble pillasters

a tall woman crosses the piazza
burning into the retina—
not like the temporary flash
from looking too long at the sun,
but with the dark endurance of counter-suns.

A black child on a white boulder
lays down his small bundle of rags
to observe the camera lens.
Christmas on the Ivory Coast:
the infant who will never sit at the right hand
of Santa Claus, nor learn of the savior's birth in a manger—
The Wasting Disease, an articulate hunger.

Searching for Mecca,
the men of Yammoussoukro
turn their backs on the sun.
It is said: When two elephants fight, the grass loses.

There are no more elephants on the Ivory Coast,
only obscure fetishes of the crocodile—
Africa is a country of families:
here, where the president is God,
a basilica inexorably rises from the jungle;
the massive arms of the portico—
comprehensible as the moon—
embrace only the air.


9/92
Liessel, The Netherlands





KERSTMIS IN YAMMOUSSOUKRO, 1991

                                                                        —naar fotoos van Jan Bogaerts
                                                                                                            —voor Jan

Stel je de basiliek van St. Pieter voor
die oprijst uit de Afrikaanse jungle
het licht verslindt van de Ivoorkust
in het dorp Yammassoukrou:
dit monument, de wens van een president
gevat in Europese steen.

Onbetekenend als een apostrophe tegen helder marmeren pilaren

loopt een negerin over de piazza
en brandt op het netvlies—
niet als de tijdelijke flits
van te lang tegen de zon in kijken,
maar met het zwart uithouden van tegen-zonnen.

Een negerjongen op een witte rots
legt zijn bundeltje vodden neer
om de cameralens goed te bekijken.
Kerstmis aan de Ivoorkust:
het kind dat nooit zal zitten aan de rechterhand
van Sinterklaas, noch leren van de geboorte van de heiland in een kribbe—
The Wasting Disease, een honger met gewrichten.

Op zoek naar Mekka
draaien
de mannen van Yammassoukrou
de zon de rug toe.
Men zegt: Als twee olifanten vechten verliest het gras.

Er zijn geen olifanten meer aan de Ivoorkust,
alleen obscure fetisjen van de krokodil—
Afrika is een land van gezinnen:
hier, waar de president God is
rijst een basiliek onstuitbaar op uit de jungle;
de massieve armen van de galerij—
begrijpelijk als de maan—
omhelzen enkel lucht.


9/92  date?
Maureen Hurley, Liessel, The Nederlands
Nederl. vert. V. van Neerven


1994 University of Nebraska Review
1993 Mother Earth News



PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION (short v.)


PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION   
     from  Jan Bogaart's photos, Eindhoven

In the football stadium, a congregation of clergy in drag.
Sequence cut to championship fucking finals
in the south of Catholic Holland,
(where else, says Jan, the photographer.)
Used rubbers hanging from the numbered pegs
as contestants candidly look on. 
Everyone's masked for the ball,
even the hookers smoking in the wings.
One wears a chador, naked from the waist down,
well-dressed in nylons and heels,
the star whore in the gurney
chalks up 187 men—all in a night's work.
Michael Jackson, David Bowie and the Pope all at the mike.
Sequence cut to a small town in Bavaria
where Hitler built a train station for Mussolini,
with love from the good old boys.
What of the gay queen at the carnival,
white face, questioning cartoon eyebrows?
The mist covers the crotch of the valley's shame
gravestones covered with plastic to protect them from winter.
It's a white Bavarian Christmas.
A woman forcefully serenades those gathered,
a nun grimly serves tea. Smiles cost money and time.
They are celebrating the alleged birth of Christ with a vengeance.
The oldest woman of the village perfers t.v. to the villagers
who can blame her? Others watch their homes destroyed.
Michael Jackson's face would support whole villages of old women.
Masked young men come down from the mountains
to beat the villagers so they will fully repent for the occasion,
only the offer of a drink will silence their sticks.
All in good fun, they said, nearly breaking the photographer's hands.
All in good fun, said Hitler as the ovens burned.
Did he drink schnaaps too, his mask more natural;
it took a while to see it slipped only to reveal another mask,
 mirrored beneath into green infinity.
Cowbells, a saint's crozier, unsmiling men fold their arms
in front of tannenbaum; the creche child in a coffin of hay
one man grimaces for the camera,
and other smiles while the fool looks on,
a full complement to the theater of saints.

9/92
Eindhoven, Holland


see longer version
SEVEN VIEWS OF PHOTOS AT AN EXHIBITION  

SEVEN VIEWS OF PHOTOS AT AN EXHIBITION


SEVEN VIEWS OF PHOTOS AT AN EXHIBITION  
                                                            —to photos by Jan Bogaerts

1. In a sports stadium a knot of clergy flowering for the Pope.
Internecine wars dropped for an open-air mass.
Score: Visitors 3. Home 1. All in drag for the Holy Ghost.

2. Sequence cut: Everyone's masked at a charity ball,
even the hookers smoking in the wings.
One wears a chador. Nude from the waist down,
in nylons and heels, the star whore on a gurney
chalks up 187 men—all in a night's work.
Spent condoms dangle from numbered pegs
as contestants candidly look on for the camera.
Whoever has the most jism wins
the Championship Fucking Finals in Catholic Holland.
Where else? shrugs the photographer. (Audience laughs.)

3. Sequence cuts:
Michael Jackson, David Bowie & the Pope all have the crowd in mind.
You can tell by the red light in their eyes. The way they mouth the mike.
The way vestments of color drapes itself onto the walls for the camera lens.

4. Sequence cut to black and white:
A small town in Bavaria,
where Hitler built a train station for Mussolini:
With love, for the Good Old Boys.
Burning into memory’s retina,
color film couldn’t cope with the crime.
Spilled wine appears as black.
What of the gay queen at the carnival,
white face, sad cartoon eyes? So much meat.

5. The mist covers the crotch of the valley's shame.
Gravestones covered in plastic—
protected from winter’s hostile art.
It's a white Bavarian Christmas in Berchtesgaden.
Celebrating the birth of Christ with a vengeance,
a housefrau serenades a captive audience,
a nun grimly serves tea. Smiles cost time and money.
The oldest woman of the village prefers TV to gossiping villagers.
Who can blame her? Others watched their homes destroyed.

Michael Jackson's face would support entire villages of old women.

6. Masked young men come down from the mountains
to beat the villagers so they will fully repent for the occasion,
only the offer of a drink will silence their sticks.
All in good fun, they said, breaking the photographer's hands.
All in good fun, said Hitler as crematoriums burned.
Did he drink schnaaps in a gold-rimmed glass too?
His mask slipped to reveal another mask mirrored beneath green infinity.
Some swear he was God. Some know snow angels melt in spring.
What of the Pope? Michael Jackson’s gone from Black to white.
Horse of a different color. Rainbow of a different name.

7. Cowbells, a saint's crozier, grim men, folded arms
in front of tannenbaum; a crêche child in a coffin of hay.
A man grimaces for the camera,
another smiles while a fool looks on,
a full complement to the theater of saints.
Will they ever escape the mountains?
Verlichting en Belichting. A crucifix of light
repenting for our sins. The camera looks on.

9/92 Eindhoven, Holland


see  PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION  (short v.)

Thursday, August 20, 1992

BLUE SEGMENT, WHITE CENTER


BLUE SEGMENT, WHITE CENTER
(Or why I didn't go to Russia to marry the singer)

                                    —from paintings by Kandinsky

The birds sing a blue tic-tac-toe with the moon
and ideals carve themselves into oars
to row us across the crest of the 20th century.
Myth and language are buried
in the algebraic equation of the sun,
and the artist's palette. Private symbols explode,
sawhetting across the industrial calligraphy of the sky.
Einstein was right: gravity bends light.
All this deliberation on the natural state
and the shadow of our eventual death
feeds my guilt; I am trapped into accepting
the evolution of air, the shifting of time,
grace notes on the telephone wires,
the piano's thoughts colliding with dust motes—

The hunger of a dream waking
a contextual tableau we punctuated
with molecular definitions
and artificial boundaries
between nations, peoples, lovers.
But I tire of explaining how the open-
armed lover on the Street of Painters  waits with shackles.
When the storyline gets tangled in barbed wire,
the politic wind merely teases it into shape;
it knows no boundaries, no border guards maintaining order
by calling it love, or sings arias til death do us part.
xox       is how the game is played out       
xxo            with illiterate kisses and hugs on ransom notes
xy                    so that chromosomes may evenly divide.

Blue segment, white center:
a flock of birds painted on the channel wall,
suspended flight across the water.
In the muddied clarity between shoreline
and hidden river, distant ships trick the eye
into believing they navigate the land too
their masts, thin reeds in the autumn wind.
Sinking its teeth upon a reflection
of the moon, how easily the swamp
is placated by its own origin,
its own death.


8/20/92
Schiphol, Amsterdam
BLAUW SEGMENT, WIT MIDDELPUNT
(Of waarom ik niet naar Rusland ging om de zanger te trouwen)
                                                                                   
                                                           —naar schilderijen van Kandinsky

De vogels zingen een blauw boter-kaas-en-eieren met de maan
en idealen snijden zichzelf in spanen
om ons over de top van de 20ste eeuw te roeien.
Mythe en taal zijn begraven
in de algebra-vergelijking van de zon,
en het palet van de kunstenaar. PrivÈ symbolen ontploffen en
maken lobben over de industrie-kalligrafie van de hemel.
Einstein had gelijk: de zwaartekracht buigt het licht.
Al dit zware denken over de natuurlijke staat
en de schaduw van, ten laatste, onze dood
voedt mijn schuld; ik zit gevangen in 't aanvaarden van
de evolutie van de lucht, het verschuiven van de tijd,
siernoten op de draden voor de telefoon,
de gedachten van de piano die met stofdeeltjes botsen

De honger van een droom wekte een
contextueel tableau, wij punctueerden
het met molekulaire definities
en kunstmatige grenzen
tussen naties, volkeren, geliefden.
Maar ik word moe van uit te leggen hoe de ge-
liefde met open armen op de Schildersstraat met boeien wacht.
Als de draad van het verhaal in prikkeldraad raakt verstrikt,
toupeert de gewiekste wind hem alleen maar in vorm;
hij kent geen grenzen, geen grenswachten handhavende de orde
door het liefde te noemen, of zingt geen aria's totter dood ons scheidt.
xox                   speel je het spel
xxo                   met ongeletterde kussen en zoentjes op losgeld briefjes
xy                                opdat chromosomen zich gelijkelijk verdelen

Blauw segment, wit middelpunt:
een vlucht vogels geschilderd op de kanaalwal,
ontheven vlucht over het water.
In de troebele klaarte tussen kustlijn
en verborgen rivier bedriegen verre schepen het oog
tot het gaat geloven dat ze ook het land bevaren
hun masten, dunne rieten in de herfst.
Hoe ótelkens als het zijn tanden zet in een weerspiegeling
van de maanó makkelijk wordt het moeras
verzoend met zijn eigen bestaan,
zijn eigen dood.


 20/08/92
Maureen Hurley, Schiphol, Amsterdam





SHORT V for Swans

BLUE SEGMENT, WHITE CENTER
(Or why I didn't go to Russia to marry the singer)

                                    —from paintings by Kandinsky

The birds sing a blue tic-tac-toe with the moon
and ideals carve themselves into oars
to row us across the crest of the 20th century.
Myth and language are buried
in the algebraic equation of the sun,
and the artist's palette. Private symbols explode,
sawhetting across the industrial calligraphy of the sky.
All this deliberation on the natural state
and the shadow of our eventual death.
Evolution into the air, the shifting of time,
grace notes on the telephone wires,
the piano's thoughts colliding with dust motes—
The hunger of a dream waking
a contextual tableau we punctuate
with molecular definitions
and artificial boundaries
between nations, peoples, lovers.
The lover was waiting with shackles.
When the storyline gets tangled in barbed wire,
the wind merely teases it into shape;
it knows no boundaries, no border guards,
no futile circus maintaining order.
Sharpening its teeth upon the dream of the moon,
speaking in circular rhythms, the swamp
knows its own origin, its own death.


rev 1993 for We Are Not Swans,  with Cecelia Woloch
had to make it shorter, to fit the page.