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Clark Coolidge
from The Crystal Text
(The Figures, 1986; reprinted Sun & Moon, 1995)
The Crystal Text


And is this the same thing?
Nodded while doubting, and hauled it out into the yard.
Knowledge of squirrels, minimal, standing though hoisted,
spread out over a carpet of beads, close the door, squirrel.
He had stepped beyond his last. And then appeared at
the first. No known letters to impede his progress.
Oregano, stout. Loud voices though only on album.
The blood cells were repeated, as the trees the sky.
No erasures, no nothing pending. Entrance through
the hoarding, the penciling betrayal of stiffness.
Monkeys under the limit, the ground full of dirts.
Blank face, black avenue. The light rang
as he lifted his hand.

The crystal was white, yellow, silver, blank.
Transparence a matter of slowly mattering, coming
to focus under sun under thumb. You never
see beyond but through. Milky, blustery,
sheerly, coughs off down an oiled hallway.
Anything is possible, anything is undersung. Held to
be an oxide, held down under being lower. A
double one that repeats its index. Carted off
in chair, squirrel watching. Album bending,
match unlit. We see, and its mother,
the father of all hymns.

Marked cards, enablements to attach comment
or an elastic candle in firm disregard.
Cattle car mottled with starlings, fire truck
gilding out of harm's way a vote for fog.
And the amphibians we will all admit to being.
The crystal apparently on fire. The water
immediately on tap. The light. The light. The light
of its stone enclosure. She spoke, but
we listened.

There continues to be and has been lost, lost of
literary activity around town. But words or notes
or strokes or steps are not objects. But then
what is one? Something that backed into, or was
backed into by, the light and thus at first missed.
Now everything is missed and still standing around.
How can one speak from within the thought
of the thing, from the standing on the floor, from
the heart? Where is the source of the center?
How are the dreams connected, and where and
how weighty is their index? When I put it
like that all out of myself I perform a useless
repetition. Where bend the cards so that they may be
listed in their shuffle? And how remember
exactly the leanings? Washfulness connected
to orange leggings.

I lost the mystery novel but caught the meaning
just as it was leaving. We have focussed so much
on meanings we are left with maybes. And all
the structures have been left up, for the view if
not the hand. Perhaps the eye is beginning to leave
and the ear coming into its own. Perhaps neither or
both in the sense, what center of the mind between
them. The object, after all, is never just
red or cold. I took the mike out of the box
and played awhile with its alphabet. That I was
never out of my mind of the window. And how the
car comes.

Then dogs bark and the walls come true. The redness
was that if text but not of wall. Two things
occupying the same space of different sizes.
A thing occupying two shapes. Shape Master lifted his
hand from the sodden sign. Immediately thought
and put away. Immediately again. Immediately thrown
open to the glare and shut. The words in the cabled
message shut themselves off like beads on a plate.
The heads were still in bed in every frame of the Cadmium
News. Heads outlined in a reddish motion.
A not knowing anything by the saying. A largeness of
unspoken space for the taking, for the walking out, for
the wrecking after much intense building, for the openers,
for the nonce and the apple.

A wobble amongst three sentences. The church lived half
on its own land and half by the livers of its parishioners.
The walk by the way had been decided, by the waterfall
and its careful placement in cups, by the hand not needed
for a final allotment. The half-polluted cigars were
stacked by the river drained into. And another one,
a one of sod and limes and musical bracketing.
The one gone.

He docked by the crystal, pulled in all ropes and the book
could not be read. The crystal could not be white
for it was not seen. Sounds as if it was through.
But never finished like the unread book, the off-center
orange, the duck below.

And what is the one's own death, locked as firmly as
a bubble in a crystal? A darker line I had
not seen before, product of facet angles, a
more condensed clarity, is these questions?
A question is a hand reaching. The crystal.

But I will not have the opportunity to do that.
I will not see myself later. On the average
no razor blades, no fans, no opportunities for
lifting the manhole and peering down within. But
everything, on the order of chaos, is possible. For
one, and the same me. The one out of order,
by the back door, the other. He needs no opportunities
for all is permitted, on the reverse side, the never
to be revealed to me. What I don't know
is the absolutely not to be known. I have no
sister. No brother either. There is now only me
and the same, the reverse, the intransigent
order. Out there loose in the all. And
no sense, I realize, in copying this out.
Under the city lies no space for me.

I keep spinning the crystal to see all sides
but I can never exactly see the side that is
turned away. In Japanese the haiku requires
17 syllables. In my language as many more as may prove
necessary. And it's a long enough might but never
that long. We pass from bit to bit, and even
exchange some of the bits between is. He lives
three avenues down, near the blue skylight above the
dirt factory. I pick up the copy of the book of
Thomas Mann I will never read. I admit same
to a certain one by letter. A volume of small
plays of a mechanical scent. Sea mice, gills
developed, under study at present. All the possibilities
in a grave and at once. Certifiable commencement.
Glands that produce laughter. Snails with seals.
Globes of clear dust attached to the palms.
Poems in a posthumous form. Follow the wake
before the vessel has left the dock. Trail
your hands before speech.

Wandering the earth, up and down in it, and in
its pockets the wand of stone.
A stretch of reaching until it burst its chords,
spill sand gems and open vaults in vapor.
The name was written on the package but not on
the letters. I approached the castle and
kept approaching it until I had no hope of
leaving it or of arriving either.
The keystone was balanced on an arch of cloud.
The waters lapped at the closure of any hands
at all. Morning. Folding lights. Terraces
as the pastime of enclosing plant forms.
Statuary broad as population at the favored spot.
The crystal poised to take my hand in its . . .

Crystal with the life of a broken skull.
Crystal with terraces for fastening cloud cracks.
Crystal contain the silver of its own crack of light.
Crystal raw and firm locked in air and my own plotted gaze.
Crystal with no answers to my questions, the questions,
           questions, salts.
Crystal with which to pick a rib.
Crystal no novel will ever enter.
Crystal with not so much as a name either.
I have removed the gathered name, it did not adhere.
The names were all shelved with their own shells.
The names were olden, of dated character, less than radient.
The names kept track of each other.
Birds of a feather, capillary phrase, irradiant banter.
The corpse flowed long on a bed of splendour.
Color dry twig without the English u.
Names are preparatory, their legends strewn.
I picked up the name in an absent moment, gesture,
           cabinet door with a sprung hinge.
I raised the crystal, entered it in hand, locked the words
           from any thoughts to come.
I scratched and raved and slept.
I counted the take and found the crystal standing on the table of
I was engrossed and it was left.
The lights to dismember, December and forget.

This book called the unread text might not be the one
the crystal reveals. The text of the crystal might
reveal everything but itself. Readable as any plot
that shows a hole, a hole as central to itself.
The things not framed allow the mind. The crystal
continues to flag thought, and thought's belief in any of the
wisdoms. This book will not allow me to write
beyond itself. And less than a foot away
from these moving lines lies the crystal.
To catch the changes of its lights I must move
myself. Speed is essential matter.
The writer increases to any stop.
The crystal is not here.
I would be no longer writer of these words.

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