18 June 2010
one from Robert Kelly
Turn it so ON is on top
before you plug it in
then the message will come out right—
your character, accurate as ever
and neat as a muscle,
will be like a tight ship in one
of those eighteenth-century metaphors
about states and statesmen and
(this is what’s important)
you will sleep now. Sleep Arizona sunset,
wake up Vermont,
everybody is a mountain walking past your bed:
show me. Show me
with your body how it’s done.
The place where men plant peas.
What exactly is sorghum anyway
and could I tell you if I knew?
I am generous with my information—
it’s the mud I swine around in,
here’s some for you: the privilege
of the hypotenuse is equal
to some of the fugues on the other nine themes
Lead me to your thalamus at last
where all the silly conjugations lead
and leave a lady
asleep in her suppose.
I always leave the answer
so plainly writ you think it was the question.
o you and me, you and me
what a sexy game of raid the larder—
a Sufi person on the top shelf lodges,
I hear the click of amber beads the hum of zikr
sometimes in the wallboard from the other side
where what I thought was me was sleeping.
But my sleep was only a dream.
No, you say, it is a ship yourself
under full sail, on a wild sea
beating through the straits of semaphore—
o there’s no such place, no sea,
go back to sleep,
knowing there is no such sign.
Work your way into the sweater put it on
how many yards of yarn to knit one
degree of early winter morn away
so you can know the day?
Lover, she tells me,
it is Sunday—numbers are much too holy
to use for counting things or reckoning—
numbers are for worship—kneel
before the sanctity of sevenness
and I will be your deaconess and you be glad.
Then the church was empty.
The hanged man had
been dragged (or dragged
himself) over the hill
and left in the deep leaves
for vultures and foxes
as he instructed.
His books were carried off
and catalogued by nearby scholarship,
the spilled wine and lamb fat wiped up,
his thin rope unwrapped from the transom.
And all of a sudden it was just
as if he had been dead all the time,
or else a tall mirror in a furrier’s salon
waiting for the skin to speak again.
It’s all right things keep starting—
can you feel the politics on its way,
the smell of it on my hands?
The brave policeman walks the lonely moon,
governments are bliss-inhibitors, that’s all,
yet those who trim our pleasures get
no pleasure from their cut.
There is a caste of men who think they’re born
to tell other people what to do
and there’s another caste to make them do it.
Without them the rest of us could stroll around
finding things and giving things to each other
all the livelong day and sleep deep
without the prattle of dismal instructors
and when we woke we’d have new dreams to share.
All music is about Russia
Every river is the space between your own legs—
You think I don’t understand the dance
Just because I stand
Motionless against the wall
Counting the bricks with my shoulder blades
My poor lost wings
I fly back through the wall
I fly backwards through every solid thing,
All music is trying to describe Russia
The trees and factories of it, the bleak of season,
Torrid wheat fields and the shadows
Of hawks swoop down on alders by the stream
And every river flows inside your skin
And finds a way and finds a way
The dance leaps up into the air
sometimes the dancer follows.
What it would have been to be a dancer
or to have danced what it could have been
and not alone but not either together
because a dance is one whoever does it
and one dancer is all by the self who
or who thinks to dance = an idea
the body has of itself
regardless of anything but here
the dancer leaps from an idea of the ground
to an idea of the rock—feet
remember earth and collarbone
remembers sky how is there any room
for an idea of you let alone actual you
but the dance is not something to see
it is illicit and imperial, it hides in daylight
it dares anyone to watch,
the best dancer hates to be seen
dances alone a dark closet
all the room the dancer needs is in the dancer’s body
its moves are what space is made of
space comes after
space happens to the dance
place is what is left when the dance is done.