The Lady of the House Puts the Alarm Clock in a Drawer

Somewhere someone is sleeping, / somewhere the lady of the house / puts the alarm clock in a drawer / where she cannot hear it / then tells the children to be quiet / and stands there listening / to its tick.”

‘Lightly, Very Lightly’ by Mary Ruefle

It was raining.
I could hear the rain
taking the pins out of her mouth.
Soft rain became hard rain
so that hard things became soft things.
The wet leaves under the trees
became heavy as diapers,
the book left open
on the grass
could finally sink in her bath
without a word,
the way, after a hard day,
I rest my head on the edge
of the claw-foot tub and
my mouth falls open, empty
at last.
Actually I saw that in a painting
when I ducked into a gallery
because it was raining.
It is always raining somewhere,
somewhere the wells are filling
from above and from below.
Somewhere someone is sleeping,
somewhere the lady of the house
puts the alarm clock in a drawer
where she cannot hear it
then tells the children to be quiet
and stands there listening
to its tick.


Source: Ruefle, Mary. “Lightly, Very Lightly.” Dunce, Wave Books, 2020, pp. 52-53.

Photo: Gerace, Joe. “The Lady of the House Puts the Alarm Clock in a Drawer.” Nov. 7, 2020. JPG.

Stuck Tight Old Boy Stuck Tight

“My word / Hand caught in the door / Stuck tight old boy stuck tight”

‘Safety Lock’ by Louis Aragon

My word
Hand caught in the door
Stuck tight old boy stuck tight
In other words
Or
The password please
Many thanks
Now I hold the key
The bolt begins to twist like a tongue
Therefore

Trans. Michael Benedikt


Source: Aragon, Louis. “Safety Lock.” The Poetry of Surrealism, edited by Michael Benedikt. Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1974, p. 151.

Photo: Gerace, Joe. “Stuck Tight Old Boy Stuck Tight” Nov. 14, 2020. JPG.

Men in Hats Rise from the Ground

“Men in hats rise from the ground: / Bless these broken dolls and mend them.”

‘Five O’Clock’ by James Schuyler

Men disport themselves.
They help each other:
“Reach in my chest and massage my heart.
I am not dead.”

If clouds are God’s table linen,
what is rain?
He gave men towels to dry themselves.
He blessed their soap.

The city grew like the desert, by erosion
Men walk in it.
God is not so much dead as resting.
His seventh day has just begun.

Men step out of the wind.
They give money and necessaries.
They steal what belongs to them.
The eighth day, doors open on new sights.

Men in hats rise from the ground:
Bless these broken dolls and mend them.
What goes through cloth, walks and floats?
We rise lightly in you.


Source: Schuyler, James, James Meetze, and Simon Pettet. Other Flowers: Uncollected Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. Print, p. 179.

Photo: Gerace, Joe. “Men in Hats Rise from the Ground” Nov. 14, 2020. JPG.

The Song of One Hundred Thousand Chemicals Approximating Sunshine

“This is the song of one hundred / Thousand chemicals approximating / Sunshine in my hair. My lover bit / My cheek this morning.”

‘This is the Song of One Hundred Thousand’ by Ariana Reines

This is the song of one hundred
Thousand chemicals approximating
Sunshine in my hair. My lover bit
My cheek this morning. I think I’ll
Fall from one trance into the next
Might fall asleep any minute
It gets tiring making yourself look
like you’re alive while you’re looking
Hard practicing turning
Away from the shit we’re in


Source: Reines, Ariana. A Sand Book. , 2019. Print, p. 157.
Photo: Gerace, Joe. “The Song of One Hundred Thousand Chemicals Approximating Sunshine [Secaucus Junction].” Nov. 14, 2020. JPG.

Good Blue Clay


Tanka, by Ono No Oyu

The city of Nara of good blue clay glows like a blooming flower, now at its prime


Source: Ono No Oyu. “Tanka.” From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry, edited by Hiroaki Sato and Burton Watson. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987, p. 43.

Photo: Church Street, New Paltz; Nov. 6, 2020; Joe Gerace


“Ono no Oyu (?-737) was a Japanese bureaucrat and a poet. He served under Ōtomo no Tabito during the Dazaifu administration. He rose to the rank of Assistant Governor-General (daini). Three of his tanka poems have been preserved in the Man’yōshū.” Wikipedia

An Urge to Flex Everything

“I seem to be very and/or, / with an urge to flex everything until it loses / what I secretly feel to be its false polarity.”

‘Solidus’ by Ron Padgett

Why am I making myself
do and be things that I don’t really want to?
Because I have an idea of what I should be doing and/or
I don’t have an idea of what I really want to be and/or do.
And/or both. I seem to be very and/or,
with an urge to flex everything until it loses
what I secretly feel to be its false polarity.
E.g., there is a such thing as good and
such a thing as evil, it’s just
that they aren’t opposites.
Am I a good person? Yes, after
a certain point, and no, after another.
Deep down I’m just down there, a kind of gurgling
black Jell-O that doesn’t have any idea
of what’s going on up here. Up here
I have on a baseball cap and have
a vague desire to fix the closet door.


Source: Padgett, Ron. Collected Poems. , 2013. Print, p. 503.

Photo: Main Street, New Paltz; Nov. 6, 2020; Joe Gerace

The Fiction of Time Destroyed

“the fiction of Time destroyed, / free from love, from me.”

‘Anticipation of Love’ by Jorge Luis Borges

Neither the intimacy of your look, your brow fair as a feast day,
nor the favor of your body, still mysterious, reserved, and childlike,
nor what comes to me of your life, settling in words or silence,
will be so mysterious a gift
as the sight of your sleep, enfolded
in the vigil of my arms.
Virgin again, miraculously, by the absolving power of sleep,
quiet and luminous like some happy thing recovered by memory,
you will give me that shore of your life that you yourself do not own.
Cast up into silence
I shall discern that ultimate beach of your being
and see you for the first time, perhaps,
as God must see you—
the fiction of Time destroyed,
free from love, from me.

trans. Robert Fitzgerald


Source: Borges, Jorge L, Willis Barnstone, and Alexander Coleman. Selected Poems. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1999. Print, p. 39.

Photo: 11 Church St., New Paltz; Nov. 6, 2020; Joe Gerace

‘Greenwich Avenue’ by James Schuyler

In the evening of a brightly
unsunny day to watch back-lighted
buildings through the slits
between vertical strips of blinds
and how red brick, brick painted
red, a flaky white, gray or
those of no color at all take
the light though it seems only
above and behind them so what
shows below has a slight evening
“the day—sobs—dies” sadness and
the sun marches on. It isn’t like that
on these buildings, the colors which
seem to melt, to bloom and go and
return do so in all reality. Go
out and on a cross street briefly
a last sidelong shine catches
the faces of brick and enshadows
the grout: which the eye sees only
as a wash of another diluted color
over the color it thinks it knows
is there. Most things, like the sky,
are always changing, always the same.
Clouds rift and a beam falls
into a cell where a future saint
sits scratching. Or a wintry
sun shows as a shallow pan of red
above the Potomac, below Mount Vernon,
and the doctor from Philadelphia
nods and speaks of further bleeding.

Source: Schuyler, James. “Greenwich Avenue.” Collected Poems. New York: Noonday Press, 1998, pp. 169-170.

Artifacts of Reference, No. 70

"The Collective" by Bogdan Czaykowski

Sources: Czaykowski, Bogdan. “The Collective.” Volvox: Poetry from the Unofficial Languages of Canada in English Translation, edited by J. Michael Yates, Victoria, British Columbia, Can: Sono Nis Press, 1971, p. 61.

Coulthart, John. “Howl from Beyond.” 1997. Trading card. Wizards of the Coast, Renton, Wash.

“The Great Enigma” by Stamatis Polenakis (trans. Richard Pierce)

photo c 2020 joseph gerace/wikipoem.org

Goodbye forever to this brief
age of freedom.
Farewell unforgettable days and glorious nights
and leaves swept away by the wind.
We were young, we hoped for nothing
and we waited for tomorrow with the blind obstinacy
of the castaway who throws stones in the water.

Source: Polenakis, Stamatis. “The Great Enigma.” Austerity Measures: The New Greek Poetry, edited by Karen Van Dyck, 2017, p. 233.