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.)