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Absence Sensorium

Absence Sensorium was written in collaboration with the late San Francisco poet, Daniel Davidson.

Like participation, perhaps resistance
has been forced upon us too.
A double imperial eagle, painted
on the synagogue ceiling
at Hodorov in seventeen sixty four,
nods to power. The hare caught
in its talons pictures power's consequence.

A German army burnt the old synagogue
from its ceiling to the ground;
did the hare escape? A hare was draped
over the hunter's shoulder, yet they deny
Esau his patrimony – he slumps before
the fire knowing that hare and
hunting dog alike will be eaten by hawks.


I found a paper bag at my door, a gift
to myself, an accident
a movement of my body
picking it up, finding what I'd never lost.
It seems reasonable to wonder about
the speaker, if you ask me
present thought, future hearer

somewhere a thought between them.
We still drink our wine here, and for good reason
or drank it, I can't keep it straight anymore
who is speaking what to whom.
I'm not copping out; I'd really like some mail
from the pulsating gasses of this screen, or
maybe we already are.

"There" was exile; air was cool, but lay outside
the walls, an instant revived
not by, nor in, memory, not certainty
but plain luck that lets us speak.
An aberrant warmth has fooled
the buds, teased them out onto
tree branches; now they must die. Crocus that pushed

through last week's softened ground this week's cold withers.
We too, constant enough to make our goodbyes
without knowing whom we touch
or what future, uprooted and broken, will
calm the greedy arrogance of our gene pool,
we pull tree from ground and put pencil to page
to crush the arrogant kingdom in our days.

a shopping cart world, beneath a duct tape sky.
At some point, the screen goes blank
absence waxing a discussion, the new moon
here, patiently somewhere else, or just waiting.
I take a breath by my own intervention...
and then forget, continue
I didn't know where that was

until handing it to you
I decided to tell the simple truth &
instantly fell silent, voice
swelling in broken regular song. Did you
worry something had gone wrong
or right? Just a way we write
ink borrowed of powdered bone.


Dan Davidson and I began Absence Sensorium in the Fall of 1993 and finished it about 18 months later. It was published in 1996 by Potes & Poets Press. Dan died while the book was in production.

Absence Sensorium is a book-length poem — 526 seven-line stanzas. Each line is made up of either 7 or 11 syllables. The form is Spanish, called a silva, and was used by Luis Góngora, among others. The selection above comprises the last 13 stanzas of the book.

Absence Sensorium is available from Amazon.