So much light, dear oblivion, night after night; I offered up my body. You refused. I drank. Begged, really. Said my dreams, you don’t belong here. Some countable mornings ahead, crouched in the internet’s dark corners, hands reaching into prosaic brightness, not to gather, but offer: News spreads of a virgin conception. And so much light.
Prayer peels soul from body. Robin-eyed memory of never known. The scent of winter jasmine, he writes. I ascent, with neither knowledge nor trace experience. Mouth crawls with the acid taste of spider webs. Begging, really. Dear Oblivion, I continue asking the drain — conduit from, passive voice, channel away — to do the hard work. Three-fourteen a.m., a mournful eight-legged poet struggles to drag a stone amphora the size of a casket across the backyard — no vacancies.
i hear you
in the golden
what i mean to say
is this, dear oblivion:
the littoral darkness
of the rising afternoon
i hear you
i’ve lived long enough to see phaeolus schweinitzii
chewing the lap of this jersey pine on a walk
with my family during our first pandemic
to call us moist and poorly protected
would be rude but true nevermind
what i haven’t got is dirty hands and god
damnit if i know how to be selfless
among all these bottle caps and tarot cards
the bravado emptiness embitters inflames thickens
the grey launch of memory plunges seven
thousand feet into the lap of an idol
hard at work in the dry grass
the irony of course remains
we are alone leaning back in chinese
textiled seats without understanding
without compassion without hideous
perspective until we are alone photograph
-ing ourselves some distance from another drink.
Henry’s Programme for God
“It was not gay, that life.” You can’t “make me small,”
you “can’t put me down” or take away my job
I am immune,
although it is not gay. Why did we come at all,
consonant to whose bidding? Perhaps God is a slob,
playful, vast, rough-hewn.
Perhaps God resembles one of the last etchings of Goya
& not Valesquez, never Rembrandt no.
ill-pleased, & with a touch of paranoia
who calls for this thud of love from his creatures-O.
Perhaps God ought to be curbed.
Not only on this planet, I admit; somewhere.
Our only resource is bleak denial or
anti-potent rage, both have been tried by our wisest. Who was it back there
who died unshriven, daring to see what more
could happen to a painter with such courage.
Source: Berryman, John, and Michael Hofmann. The Dream Songs , 2014, p. 257.
Wikipedia Poem, No. 975
the gunpowder if it ever exists dries ready full-mouthed and mush his mission soon ends with no criteria sì, quella spiga— what athletic power passed the hum of squirrely / selfish putsch down— if darkly uplift the self gets righteous right to the bottom— quick, much is transparent and not raised against the real polemic fear yr inbox as good as yr last intesa inteso— i feel hiss intestines / push out against— the night sufficient still bent between hiss pinching stamen & inject the sniff pop of style kaboom
Wikipedia Poem, No. 921
I decided to use the Pine Barrens site as a piece of paper and draw a crystalline structure over the landmass rather than on a … sheet of paper. In this way I was applying my conceptual thinking directly to the disruption of the site over an area of several miles. So you might say that my non-site was a three dimensional map of the site.Robert Smithson
Buca il geranio la maceria, rissaMaria Luisa Spaziani
but only you
love sheds on you love
sheds on you love
shed on you
this dog you love
sheds on you
love shed on you
always night &yet
death queer hearth
nebulous hearth &yet
night of the long commercial
night always drinking night & shhh upon
rigid compass shhh abstract shhh
Wikipedia Poem, No. 870
saskatchewan, i have—by a mile—the heat of whirlwind
this whirlwind of what i know… after-time
gotta study and get on with all the whirlwind heat
this whirlwind of preparing for the heat of the best poems
published in saskatchewan o well and study video games
i have—by a meteor mile—the heat of this to do list: quit my hand
i briefly felt like a wonderful person
i really should be studying and felt wonderful
now that will hold my hand and
live in reputable american journals
i really fucked my to-do: quit my poet
i am a very secretly a fearful person
i am very more tame
when i stopped drinking i published
you know… no time gotta study it
i really should study for the heavy escape
no time gotta study for the best poet
i am very secretly fucked
my illusion felt wonderful
i really fucked me: quit my poet
i really should study for law school
i’m so scared — salty poet
i don’t want to step out of this
whirlwind of preparing and feel wonderful
now that i know i need to escape myself —
this radical being — in smoke
Wikipedia Poem, No. 867
break into air leather man break into air breathe into leather man breathe into air leather jacket licked back hair and steal another man break into leather man don't break don't break man don't break look leather man break it or lose it leather man break the air man pomegranate flower hoplite bannister leather man slip into the air like a man breaks in his leather man breaks into the hairy air leather rip jacket rip licked backseat nothing man sniffling a diagram then sentenceless i don't exist rip lick leather men sniffing about arson one might hang about arson around one night about like smoke one might break the air smoke around one just might smoke leather man
No one attacks it with a long lance,
No one plies a strong cross-bow.
Suckling its grandsons, rearing its cubs,
It trains them into savagery.
Its reared head becomes a wall
Its waving tail becomes a banner.
Even Huang from the Eastern Sea,¹
Dreaded to see it after dark,
A righteous tiger, met on the road,²
Was quite enough to upset Niu Ai.
What good is it for that short sword
To hang on the wall, growling like thunder?
When from the foot of Tai mountain
Comes the sound of a woman weeping,
Government regulations forbid
Any official to dare to listen.³
Notes from The Collected Poems of Li He:
A satire on oppressive government, of which the tiger was the symbol. Caught between the Central Government and the warlords, the people are harassed as though by tigers.
- Huang, of Dong-hai, had magical powers which enabled him to control snakes and tigers. Unfortunately for him, he lost these powers through drinking to excess and was eventually killed by a tiger.
- The zhou-yu was a white tiger with black markings which appeared only when a state was perfectly governed. It would not tread on grain nor eat living things. Niu Ai was a duke turned were-tiger, who ate his own elder brother. He is pointing out that some tigers are worse than others.
- Confucius found a woman weeping at the foot of Mount Tai. Though her whole family had been killed by tigers she refused to leave the district, because there was no oppressive government there. This caused Confucius to remark that an oppressive government was more savage than any tiger.
More about Li He from The New York Review of Books:
Li He is the bad-boy poet of the late Tang dynasty. He began writing at the age of seven and died at twenty-six from alcoholism or, according to a later commentator, “sexual dissipation,” or both. An obscure and unsuccessful relative of the imperial family, he would set out at dawn on horseback, pause, write a poem, and toss the paper away. A servant boy followed him to collect these scraps in a tapestry bag.
Long considered far too extravagant and weird for Chinese taste, Li He was virtually excluded from the poetic canon until the mid-twentieth century. Today, as the translator and scholar Anne M. Birrell, writes, “Of all the Tang poets, even of all Chinese poets, he best speaks for our disconcerting times.” Modern critics have compared him to Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Keats, and Trakl.