Four Strange Books
from the title poem:
As your mouth opens to frame a word
its first stirrings bring
the word to my mind
without any effort on my part
or on yours.
Almost before you begin to
express a thought, I sense
what you want to say
& hear you bring forth statements
as if they were mine. How haltingly
I explain this simple coincidence.
You are inclined in my
direction, and I,
in rapt attention to the garbled flow
of sounds emanating from you,
listen to your breathing and
await your words. Meanwhile
you hear rhythm shred
the surface of your speech, as time
develops obsessions - difficult
to move through. Memory of you breath-
ing fills the hole with sleep.
The delight I take
in such thoughts is delight in my
own strange life. A telescope
ends in the eye. My mountain climbs
into your cloud, the bet-
ter to build a hill.
But I cannot build clouds; the
dreamed-of future will not come true.
We struggle against a tendency
that once people have died
we look at their lives
in a conciliatory light; their years appear
to us as if softened by haze.
But they will die out and be superseded
by others. People will no
our arguments with them. For her, death
yielded no meaning; her life
was not rounded in retrospective gaze.
No, life was incomplete
jagged. Nor will they
see why we insist there was no
reconciling, not for her.
In retrospect especially, life is
naked & wretched. So,
losing my way, I'm
happy to ask someone how I got here.
"I'll point it out," he says,
& walks beside me on the smooth path.
The road ends abruptly
in a brambled track,
dense threat. "Here we are," my new friend
says, "just take it from here."
From new melodies we learn new gestures.
You may admire the trees
or the shadows of
the trees, for the same qualities - shadows
because they are so like trees - or
different - upright trees filled with light.
Or trees because they're scored
by shadows. Shadows
dark, trees substantial. "Strike a coin
from every error."
Fictitious concepts teach us those we know.
Not that "the problems of
on the surface can only be solved in depth.
They are insoluble on all surfaces."
Remarks that sow, remarks that reap. "Look
at humans; one is pois-
on to the other.
A mother to her son, & vice versa.
But the mother is blind & so is the son.
Oh, perhaps they have guilty consciences
but what good does that do?
The child is wicked,
who teaches it to be different? Its parents
only spoil it with stupid affections.
How are they supposed to understand this,
& how could the child un-
derstand this? They are
so to speak entirely wicked, entirely
I don't want a causal explanation, only
to know where all this came
from. Silent on the
subject of you, the portrait explains itself.
"My face reddens, contracts.
My hair changes color." Our portraits are
mirrors where events ap-
pear which have waited
long years in readiness for
the door of reality to open,
to make their final entry, because
without it every-
thing seems colorless
like a man struggling unsuccessfully
to recall a name. But,
even in that case I'd say, "it is your own
name, and it will come to
to think of something else would
allow what I'd been
waiting for to come from you.
Finally, after what
seems endless delays
during which most of the audience departs
a last participant crosses
the finish line - it is the winner! His
thoughts manure the soil for
sewing, for "ass
and ox can do things too, but only human
beings give you their assurances."