Friday, February 1, 2013

Jerome Rothenberg



divagations (23)

Each one holds a recollection of what he was: a
bush & a bird, a boy & a girl, a mute fish in the
sea.*                                                                                          * (Empedocles of Acragas)
The pavement feels warm to his feet,
his shoulders bearing the weight of the sky, his
chest* the weight* of his heart, still heavy inside          * his breast    * the fate

Pebbles caught between his toes, a mash*                      * a mesh
that covers them, walking with the caution of
a cat.
From here the sea is almost at your door,
the waves remind you of a shadow world, a
purple surge* against a shore that’s nearly black.          * a rise
He walks inside the frame, my mind
surrounds* & holds him.                                                      * astounds
Less is more, enough is too much, either
is the same as or.
Earth’s sweat the sea, earth’s skin
the heave* of mountains, hollow cones of flesh              * the hide
with fire at their core, earth’s hair & teeth
Bespattered & befuddled, be at peace.
At which the friend explores his inner
landscape, stumbling among stones, the more
to test his vitals, to emerge unsung.*                                 * unstrung
No moment can endure the shock of time*                      * of rhyme
as lost as you, the truth of solipsism turning all
we know to naught.


divagations (24)

Varied the places that he knew, the false
encounters that we lived through.
I extend my hand, and you, unlearning
what was never* real, retreat, your back a                        * ever
ready* target.                                                                           * a steady
All life forever outside moves behind
a bolted door, the voices uppermost* that drift                * almost lost
into the shuttered* room & swirl around you.                  *shattered
We join together in a struggle, seeing
what the water* has washed up, the sewers                       * the slaughter
overflowing, leaving a debris & smell of dying
A sticky surface
clinging to his boots,
raw paper,
brown & red in spots,
a broken cup,
a bag of bones
& blood,
a sculpted head
cracked down the center,
a dead dog, a condom
inside out,
a silver wig,
a smell of death
enough to take you down,
a black hole in your gut
through which the shit
pours freely,
shit on sidewalk, shit
on hands & mouth,
a honey wrap,
a surface
not exactly green,
an ace of spades
thrown down
atop the pile.
I who began to walk,                                                                * so many years    * to talk
before, now stand in front of you & turn to
stone.*                                                                                         * to bone 


Jerome Rothenberg is an internationally known poet with over eighty books of poetry and several assemblages of traditional and avant-garde poetry such as Technicians of the Sacred (Doubleday, University of California) and, with Pierre Joris and Jeffrey Robinson, Poems for the Millennium, volumes 1-3 (University of California). Recent books of poems include Triptych (New Directions), Gematria Complete (Marick), Concealments & Caprichos (Black Widow), and Retrievals: Uncollected & New Poems 1955-2010 (Junction). He is now working on a global anthology of “outsider and subterranean poetry” and, with Heriberto Yépez, Eye of Witness: A Jerome Rothenberg Reader for Black Widow Press. He has until recently been a professor of visual arts and literature at the University of California, San Diego.

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