Asher Blake’s This One Friend

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This One Friend

The problem,
– he said –
with the knot… is all the folds…it’s all folded up…
into itself…upon itself…it can’t be answered.

None of these questions…It’s confounded by folds.

Pull them apart…unwrap them like little gifts…
now once you’ve got it all unfolded, stretch out the ends,
one opposite the other. Put the ends
away from each other,
far away.

He asked:

do you know the 72 centimeters of facial destruction?

– No. –

About someone’s face in Chinese Medicine?

I told him my face was the punching bag
of a thousand folded wings and
that I always give the best lines to myself
but that when I win this weekend,
I will get him all hooked up.

He said:

You should really meet Tonya.
She could tell your parents didn’t love you
and you ate hot soup in the rain.
She could tell all that
because your hair was mussed
fingers shaking
to sign up
for the experiment.

Asher Blake’s The Inherited Farm

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The Inherited Farm

I wish I could have different ideas than about myself,
Sons of Texas.

We sleepless three days moan in meditation.
Room empty – a coffeepot and three foot siphon to the side.
The room-tomb become a cavern.

We are crackpot custodians,
anarchists of the chain of geodesic domes.
None of us have made the Waco postcards.

Like a little bird in my hands she swoons to me.
Why are the Sons of Texas so sexually dimorphic,
Patrick Lawler?

Asher Blake’s The Man Who Left No Mark

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The Man Who Left No Mark

They say he has forsaken us.
Wandering God, who knows where?
Leaving not happy with his children,
relying on us now to do.

That is what we say of him
behind his back now he
died. What words
did he offer,
thinking on us
who were in town that day?
Who is on our hands
and will not leave our minds,
who left a knocking in my heart
no one knows?
Who knows his word,
that is words
he spoke, no hill
his friends could sit on
as when he spoke of better things,
Magdalene…
Whisper me a word
he spoke, so none may hear,
whisper sweet, unregistered
we dine at dinner.
None may hear.
How he died at Calvary, when he
kissed my sins and died.
Don’t go near there!
Who told you –
who said you could be here!?!

He crept in with lepers’ beds.
He squabbled with fighting children,
by and by he simply made their troubles
fly. He ran out there, there was a sign,
where the man cried from
the mine field. What man
went there? Why, he lived
in an asylum, Worcestershire,
Gloucestershire, friends, friends
all followed, touching him
as lambs.
The family he had there
he boasted they did his meek will.

What was the thing he said
to gentle, gentle, people
at the square? He carried something
there that day – our hate,
that yet stays with me.
He told them not so,
not right, Pharisee,
and brought it on.
Something wrapped about him
there, our jealousy.
And serpent, serpent,
we forgot, they took his clothes
apart. Healer, healer
is it done? Naked, scorned,
the Tempter moved them
from the tree.
Was his race won?
Did the fruit that dropped
look good to eat as wisdom,
and tempt a savoring palette?
Do we go away so serpentine
from something so direct?

Nail down
that he was at the front,
the head of all the world,
which was then beginning
to be established in its ways.
He led himself,
(did he love the world?)
to the grave, to holes in rocks,
to caves for rich men,
to garden pits,
sitting close to us like a baby
wrapped at our breast,
not stopping –
the Christ child was lowered
down further to an endless pit
beneath where she longed
to follow, but the sword
pierced just her soul,
she yet breathed.
Walking there, what said the one
who left us here?

“They will come for you
if you are good.
They will come for you.
Do not cry for me,
but for yourselves,
and your children
at your breast.
The tree my Father
gave is Love.
They murder it,
they chase the dove.
For terror overspreads the Earth
since Adam’s bowed to Hell.
If shown the fresh face
of God they spit,
what will they do
when they aged and weathered it?”

Jesus and Social Justice

Asher Blake’s Vitruvian Architecture

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Vitruvian Architecture

When you say bye, honey,
you close the phone,
how you move me in whispers
when you lift your blouse,
I’m off the hook.
No one can imitate your little guttural pauses,
the brooks in your throat,
the goofed up words
and ideas re-sorted
up your body of vertical shelves
like Bukowski the postman was busy –
I am in love with your Ur-umms.

Lifted in his flight,
the center is the navel.
Can you find the place man turns?
The flash inside Vitruvius,
morning star twinkling his wings,
we open close to death.
In this body, this earth,
death. Take no sides, but crucify,
and we will rise
because He rose.
But we in the mirror of lovers
reveal one another palm to palm.

**

Mankind is stronger than a shaman,
and an oracle is wiser than a wise man.
Every person from every generation,
like clouds drop water,
gives the right sound to things.

Almost anything in us
is elsewhere in nature too.
And reflexive, instinctive working,
our human bodies think
in indescribable sensations.
Look at how muscular Rodin saw a thinker.
And we’re always thinking on classic problems.
Every being is a court with reliable weights,
(factor the difference.)
They are the same,
the same courts He loves.

Consider the universal medium of noise.
Horse hooves ought to sound officious,
with a weighty, clomping clip.
They are fit for authority.
The vicious bark of a brutal dog is catholic.

No one confuses it with a wagging tail.
The poignant falsetto of a whining dog,
who smells a cat,
who wants a scrap to fall,
is a ransom sound at the mercy of the world,
the wind of a high price.

The logos is not our construction.
The Earth was moved with knowledge
and etched in Subterrane,
the study of a skull,
centuries’ acidic drops.
Making breath by loaded water
shifting facial cavities
to the throat, catch of every
problem slid.

All animals keep company
in pretty much the same fung shui.
Or take the bedlam of a hurricane –
before it comes it tells us so.

The ocean is all too human.
We can drown in its noumenal,
sublime Atlantic mouth.
Can we escape by speaking for ourselves?
The water of water
hands you over to the one whose
tongue you truly speak.

**

Your mother’s hand on your hair,
once a ribbon tied it together,
is now your hand
putting my finger to the scroll
of my fathers’ Torah.

The babies crawling through
the fallopian mothers’-to-be,
were the way we crawled around
in darkness on Earth Day,
drinking from a keg with your friends
to celebrate our engagement.

You once stayed riveted to the built
and unbuilt American cyborg
as trains of human secret keepers
gouged the night with speed
from Portland to Chicago, and heartened
by the wondrous endurance of nature,
you buried your head beneath your wing
and thought of me.

Man Ray Sleeping Woman

Tati-Loutard’s News Of My Mother

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How effortlessly Tati-Loutard dances from the personal lyric, to the grandeur of the cosmic, to the pathos of the miniscule, to the deepest, chromatic grief.  This is a poetic language of a high communication, sending out its call to those with ears to hear.

News Of My Mother
by Jean Baptiste Tati-Loutard

I am now very high upon the tree of the seasons;
Far below I see the firm earth of the past.
When the fields opened themselves to the flow of seed
Before the baobab took aim at a flight of birds
With the first call of the sun,
It was your footsteps which sang around me:
A shower of bells chiming with my ablutions.
I am now very high upon the tree of the seasons.
Know by this fifteenth day of the moon
It is these tears – up till now –
Which fill your absence,
Which lighten drop by drop your image
Too heavy on my pupil;
Each night I waken drenched through with your pain
Even as if you lived in me again.

Oak Tree

Marianne Moore’s A Grave

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Marianne Moore’s poem, “A Grave,” is a virtuosic display of restless and discursive analysis, making the activity and soul of the sea a metaphor for death; so appropriate for her description of a vast, complex force consuming all things, itself a non-entity, taking all other things as naive objects themselves, never known, never remembered.

Yale professor Langdon Hammer mentions the opening of this poem as a possible reference to the Friedrich painting below, Wanderer Above the Sea and Fog.  He spoke of an incident in Moore’s life when her mother and she stood at the shore, and Marianne’s mother quelled the girl’s irritation by responding with a line Moore uses here, “it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing.”  (Note: Hammer has a course on Modernist poetry that I enjoyed to no end and should not be missed.  You can see it free here.)

Friedrich Wanderer Sea

Hammer points out that A Graveyard is made up of two stanzas, with no line break, of 11 lines each.  Each of these two stanzas begin with a 7 syllable line.  Some may suggest that this is an anti-Christian poem, protesting against the dominance of Christian theology, and the person of Christ, as being at the center of the universe.  Is Christ lifted on the cross merely the habit of man to put himself at the center of all things, staring into the Sublime?  Perhaps that is an undercurrent of the poem.  Perhaps these stanzas employ Biblical numerology (11 disciples, 7 for the day of eternal life) to pose an emotional counter-argument suggesting that all are subsumed by a death which erases even their bones into a void.

Lucille Clifton’s Cutting Greens

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Cutting Greens
by Lucille Clifton

curling them around
i hold their bodies in obscene embrace
thinking of everything but kinship.
collards and kale
strain against each strange other
away from my kissmaking hand and
the iron bedpot.
the pot is black,
the cutting board is black,
my hand,
and just for a minute
the greens roll black under the knife,
and the kitchen twists dark on its spine
and I taste in my natural appetite
the bond of live things everywhere.

James Joyce’s Chamber Music

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These are sections 3-30 of James Joyce’s long poem, Chamber Music, which comprised his first book. Published in 1907, Joyce of course became famous for his novels and short stories and his poetry has unfortunately been largely forgotten.

The Poetry Foundation has written that Chamber Music was noticed by Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, “and included in Pound’s influential Imagist Anthology of 1914. Pound wrote of Chamber Music: “the quality and distinction of the poems in the first half…is due in part to their author’s strict musical training…the wording is Elizabethan, the metres at times suggesting Herrick.’ Known as a lyric poet, Joyce based some of his poems on songs. His poems have been set to music by composers including Geoffrey Moyneux Palmer, Ross Lee Finney, Samuel Barber, and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd, as well as the group Sonic Youth.”


Chamber Music
Sections 3-30 of 36 total

III

At that hour when all things have repose,

O lonely watcher of the skies,

IV

When the shy star goes forth in heaven

All maidenly, disconsolate,

V

Lean out of the window,

Goldenhair,

VI

I would in that sweet bosom be

(O sweet it is and fair it is!)

VII

My love is in a light attire

Among the apple-trees,

VIII

Who goes amid the green wood

With springtide all adorning her?

IX

Winds of May, that dance on the sea,

Dancing a ring-around in glee

X

Bright cap and streamers,

He sings in the hollow:

XI

Bid adieu, adieu, adieu,

Bid adieu to girlish days,

XII

What counsel has the hooded moon

Put in thy heart, my shyly sweet,

XIII

Go seek her out all courteously,

And say I come,

XIV

My dove, my beautiful one,

Arise, arise!

XV

From dewy dreams, my soul, arise,

From love’s deep slumber and from death,

XVI

O cool is the valley now

And there, love, will we go

XVII

Because your voice was at my side

I gave him pain,

XVIII

O Sweetheart, hear you

Your lover’s tale;

XIX

Be not sad because all men

Prefer a lying clamour before you:

XX

In the dark pine-wood

I would we lay,

XXI

He who hath glory lost, nor hath

Found any soul to fellow his,

XXII

Of that so sweet imprisonment

My soul, dearest, is fain–

XXIII

This heart that flutters near my heart

My hope and all my riches is,

XXIV

Silently she’s combing,

Combing her long hair

XXV

Lightly come or lightly go:

Though thy heart presage thee woe,

XXVI

Thou leanest to the shell of night,

Dear lady, a divining ear.

XXVII

Though I thy Mithridates were,

Framed to defy the poison-dart,

XXVIII

Gentle lady, do not sing

Sad songs about the end of love;

XXIX

Dear heart, why will you use me so?

Dear eyes that gently me upbraid,

XXX

Love came to us in time gone by

When one at twilight shyly played