Archives for the month of: April, 2016

They think that you have detached yourself from me
simply because you were born
— Alaide Foppa

Of the four — plum blossom, your lips, your mouth, tomorrow —
if they could strip one out, extract it, suppress it,
perhaps it would be the plum blossom.

They’d have to leave your lips and your mouth;
and as for tomorrow — isn’t it always there?
Your mouth, your lips, warm and integral —
even before the word ‘ore’ is formed by them,
the word ‘ear’, the word ‘air’:
we couldn’t do without those,
but the plum blossom is inhuman, repetitive,
and, in the end, expendable.

But they would be wrong.
Even though it was far off from us —
a XIII Century retina, an obscure mountain in China —
and a silky MiLord never laid eyes on it,
nor even a wanderer — still, the plum blossom
is the foundation of this world.

‘Architecture’, she said. ‘Child’s eyelid.’
I poured champagne in a train, which was a shoe.
‘Play — play by the rules of the game’, he said.
And there were candles in the garden.
This was several years ago
before the arrest of Pinochet.

And what was left out of the four — the fifth —
I believe they would also seek to suppress that.
They’d think it might be the key, the crux, the essential part.

Your mouth rests on plum blossom:
you move your lips, and there’s darkness
which opens, like petals, my lips.
For a moment, I’m balanced on my eyelashes.
We’re poised — we’re not slaves —
we don’t need to ape midnight, which only
occurs when it’s told.

We’re not angels, either — not midnight,
not angels — though in tradition we may comprehend
the faculties of angels. We’re partners —
which is to say
light, blown, dust.

‘Jasmine,’ she said: ‘white jasmine’. Alfred and Chrysler.
And the hole blown in my forehead —
nothing romantic came out of it.
The spring breeze had 40 clicks to go.
A sampan and night-fishing with lanterns.
‘The rings of Saturn’, I said.

Of the four, yet at the limits of the four, there was water —
big water. As they sought to exterminate one,
to control three, their concentration was intense,
bigoted, almost total.

Of the ocean — in this instance, the Pacific —
they took little cognisance.
They were on the trail of Japanese plum blossom.
By determining and uprooting the trees of that logic —
the logic of kisses and, above all, of mothers —
they would terminate us, locally.
We made no sense. And that made no sense.
‘Put some logs on the fire’, she said.

They were seeking to administer us a summer
like a kind of general anaesthetic.
But that day, the waves were unruly.
The milky chaos of the spume blown by the wind
reached our feet in spattered coolnesses
as we walked in faded espadrilles along the shore
counting our Napoleons.

Of the sixth and seventh, they remained unaware.
But our mouths and our lips, warm and integral,
spoke of them.

Who are they? Themselves: themselves. We should fear them.
They’re seeking a kind of stillness, beyond repose.
They put a wave in a museum.
I was speaking of the power of power,
and of something which consents to power occurring.
And the month was May — sweet and permissive.

Of the blue, they knew nothing.
It was the first blue, not Indian,
not Mesopotamian.
It was the first dawn of human eyes,
and no glaze could contain it.
It stirred the child, and it stirred my death.
It was dawn for the first time.
But of this, they knew nothing.

This belonged to the lovers.
You poured a flame into my mouth,
and the root of that flame — beyond an oasis —
was a spray of plum blossom
against a pale blue sky.

Who were they? They were the masters of nothing.
But they killed, and the killing belonged to them.
The lost was certainly lost.
The vanished were certainly vanished — if uncertainly.
‘Hello,’ she was saying, tiredly: ‘It’s me. I’m on the train’.

They tortured, and the torture belongs to them.
They broke, but the broken did not belong to them.
Indeed, they are the breaking. They are the dead.
And she carried a mobile phone, a Nokia.
‘Hello,’ she was saying, tiredly: ‘It’s me. I’m on the train’.

They, not we, are disembodied heads and secateurs.
They gave us the unbearable, and so we ceased.
But our bodies were human bodies,
which is to say,
the spring still delineates them —
and they are delineated in the spring —
May — and, before, English plum blossom.

Of blood, they knew much.
Of the pliability of children, they knew too much.
Of testicles and nipples, and of the chain of command,
they were expert, and of transforming the sensitive
portals of pleasure and generation
to sterile sites of pain and ending
they knew everything — except, of course,
the pain.

Who were they? They were the masters of nothing.
And what was borne, they could not bear.
We are the overcome.
We are the snuffed out, the blown away.
The lie belongs to the liar.
Cruelty belongs to the cruel.
But the poem — what could be borne of it —
belongs to no one.

In the end, I think, they might grow desperate.
And of the four — your mouth, your lips, plum blossom, tomorrow —
they might seek to exterminate three,
leaving only tomorrow.

And our lips, and our mouths, heavenly and integral,
would be stamped out,
but not as Rainer Maria’s flamenco dancer
stamps out the flames of her dance.
The process of reduction, which began
with that useless plum blossom
on which our mouths depended,
would end with the determination of a voice
endlessly shouting commands.

Obviously, we couldn’t speak of Rilke then.
Or of bread, or milk, or honey; and the spring breeze
could only blow tomorrow.

Of the voices that blow in the wind,
of the so-called scattered and lost voices,
of the apparently dismembered and the ghostly voices,
they know nothing, they can recall nothing.
‘Meiji Restoration’, he said. ‘Zen text.’

Only the human can recall the lost.
Only we, through the lost, say: ‘remember’.
Only the separate can kill. Only the separate can die.
‘At five o’clock’, he said. She said: ‘Architecture’.

Who were they?
We cannot remember them.
They didn’t belong to us.
And we, light, the breeze-borne, the so-called lost,
certainly never belonged to them.

Because, without going the way of the plum blossom,
they couldn’t tell the veins of lightning from those of silver.
They would have to come the whole way
without distinction — which would be, for them,
quite literally, unthinkable.

Who were they, who appeared like this?
They severed the breeze.
I don’t remember them. I simply can’t.

Sometimes the plum blossom makes the spring,
and sometimes it makes winter.
And my mouth, and my lips, warm and integral
… were blown out, like a flame.

I’ll call you tomorrow.

Tears in the Fence | 63 | Spring 2016

Two poems, Poised and Auction, have been published in Tears in the Fence, Issue no. 63.

From the ‘About’ page of the journal’s website:

Tears in the Fence is an internationalist literary magazine based in the U.K. Publishing a variety of contemporary writers from around the world, it provides critical reviews of recent books, anthologies and pamphlets and essays on a diversity of significant modern and contemporary English and American poets. Each issue features a number of regular columnists adding wide focus and independent thought on the contemporary poetry world.

The poems are from the collection Distillate, which is in preparation.

My thanks to the editor, David Caddy, and staff of Tears in the Fence.

Please support the magazine.