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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Jerome Rothenberg: A Round of Solipsisms

for my 86th birthday
He takes a book down from his shelf & scribbles across a page of text: I am the final one.  This means the world will end when he does. (from A Paradise of Poets)

the lie of consciousness
assails me    waking
in the early hours

shorn of dreams
the world reduced to what
cannot be told

& scarce remembered
I am walking

toward a patch of forest
then a tunnel
where a train runs

from my sight
heading for a depot
I will never reach 

what is a dream
& where is it located?

when it ends
a blackness
fills the place called mind

unseen   unheard
there is no world then
& no mind to tell us
searching for a name
the word is solipsism

what the man
almost a corpse
knows, dying

that the world will end
when he does

the real a lie
as well
(the man thinks)

to hold on
& falling back

he grabs for it
fearing as he does
its vanishing

the world without him
is no world
the stars no stars

the plot of land
under his foot
has no solidity

the water leaves
no water
& the air no air

when the imagination
fades    the fancy
takes its place

when all are gone
the mind shuts down
with scarce a trace

for David Antin

you have died
& still
the world goes on

the strangeness
felt by us
without you

where I train
my thoughts
on all I know

& knowing
that for you
the world has fled

as it will flee
for me & all
the others

when the mind shuts
& the world

shuts with it

the bloom of life
assaults me
when I fall
under its spell

happy to play
time’s fool
like other men
before me

wisdom is a lie
only the dead
can see through
& reject

the present
never there
the past
a trick of mind

how many worlds
we hold inside us
something to be shared
until it ends

inside the only
world I know
the power rests
with me

the flow of light
opens in images
& ends
in darkness

I try to find you
& the others
hearing my name re-echo
in another tongue

no one can know
or wrest from me
something I carry
until the fire starts

its hidden name
intended for me

An Exhortation –
for the Survivors

“how can there be
a world
without you?”

lightly asked
& wanting
nothing less

the years once lived
stay in the mind
only in bits

predict an image
not yet real
the hope of juncture

a contingency
foretold & closed
shutting us off

but different
when we come together
in your eyes

distant like mine
& knowing
that the end will come

to me
to you
the greater world

gone in a wink
& done
absent all care


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Rochelle Owens: From “Solarpoetics,” (concluded) 16-26

                                                        [The following is the conclusion of Rochelle Owens’ major new alphabetic work, earlier sections of which have appeared previously in Poems and Poetics.]

Reading a word does not depend on the number
of letters it contains


The letter P  periodic  orbital 
biological compulsion 
like taste and thirst
and in your

Mammalian brain 

Lovely the pastoral scene
a graphic design 
green the volcanic hills 
the story

Of the shepherdess

In elaborate lettering
heat  cold  wind  water
a flow of menstrual

The stereotype of a lone researcher
in a secluded lab--a science fiction trope

The letter Q  a quartet
in three dimensional space
the butcher  baker  shepherdess 
a solitary workwoman 

Ravenous her lidless eye

Counting letters  spelling
m e l l i f e r o u s  the animal flesh 
the flow of hormonal

Blood in  blood out

From A to Z  a set of skills 
body of data  data
of body  gut  head  tail 
o b l i t e r a t e d

An experiment designed to control the brain 
--movements of limbs with colored lights


                        The letter R  under a red
violet light  an unknown figure
crouches over the earth

Where the air smells of poisoned rain

An unknown figure digs rows
of small holes  the temperature
of human skin  folds
in the ground 

The root of love  

Blood in  blood out
folds in the ground from front
to back from back to

 Electrical pokes regulate balance  direction
 currents moving neuron to neuron


The letter S  serpentine
the organ of sight  a pair of spherical
bodies in an orbit of the skull 
the eyes 

Nomads  wanderers
Take one step after
the other  here where you walk 
bones push to the

A snarl of fibrous hairs drifting

In circles  chasms and fissures
in the earth   holes  gaps in a sequence
of events  laid down and eroded
Begin with a few humble ingredients  rice flour 
fruit and flowers


The letter T  near a tank
with a spigot stands the baker
collecting words  batter 

Black mold  burnt rolls

Dead white the bakers lips
on his tongue a metallic
taste  more water
in the loaf 

Less flour used 

The story of the baker
A set of skills in sequential order
from A to Z    O wicked
All words may be reproduced  stored in a retrieval system
or transmitted in any form or by any means

                        The letter U  numberless 
tree stumps mark a sequence
of events  rows of

Absence of a picture

A story of the solitary
workwoman long ago  an hour ago
only a minute  strolling in
autumnal leaves

Drifting in circles

And in your mammalian brain 
lovely the pastoral scene 
grain  grape  bread 

Colors  forms  movement  all together an astonishing
neurological image


The letter V  gouged
into a stone floor  blood pushing
to the surface  zones of
inclusion  exclusion

Here where archeologists

Observe dimensions  between
victim and executioner  a gap  a fissure 
a hole that engulfs and

Here where historians

Pouring coffee  organize
body of data  data of body  piles
of charred human and animal 

Evolution is smart  clean  clear and simple
hungry or thirsty  eat  or drink


The letter W  when your
eyes move  the reading brain   
the act of reading  how tightly
the letters hold you

Wind  heat  cold  drought

Hot  exuberant  the butcher’s
pleasure  cutting  deboning  grinding
salt for the stew  salt
for the bread

Sings the poet maudite

From point A to Z  a set of skills
in sequential order  blood
and mud  chemical

With sophisticated equipment scientists scrutinize
minutiae  gathering information


The letter X 
marks an unknown figure
behind an electric

Patterns of animus

A skeletal frame
crouches over the earth
fingers spreading apart across
t h e  r u i n s c a p e 

Hidden among geometric forms 
                         a single bloodstained feather 
long ago  an hour ago 
only a minute

The two cortex regions operate independently
of each other  independent yet intertwined


The letter Y  yellow 
sulfurous  a plume of smoke 
work is a binding

Looking to earn extra cash

Take one step after
the other  under an occult sky 
the hand of the butcher
lops off

Diseased parts   

Slapping flying insects  insects
far and near  hair and nails in the feces 
vulnerable flesh-eater  spiritual

Ever-pinging networks  twenty-six letters of the alphabet 
asterik to zero hour


The letter Z  a sound
of a buzz saw  strange scars
on the sea bed  patterns
of animus

Written words lit up 

Hidden zigzags 
burned  buried  premonitions 
take one step after
the other 

Out of the hole of Baudelaire

When I in my youth
strolled in a blue wool dress
I strolled in a circle
of blue