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KELL02.01 and RIFT02.01 are copyright (c) 1994. See below for full notice. Click here for EPC HOTLIST


The Invaders

     [preliminary meditations towards the Osnabrueck 
      conference on language and identity]
     When he saw the shape of the cloud
     over the monastery dining hall
     a foreign word came quickly             [ko.mong]
     to his nearby mind,
                             O yes
     it is the words
     who are the aliens
     oyez oyez
     they have lived here with us
     nearer than mitochondria
     they moved into our brains and altered
     our minds over millennia
     Harappa, oyez, Sumeria.
     Every language
     is a foreign language,
     an invasion
     from outside of space.
     That it may come to rest
     and be an apple, a miracle
     the way hands work
     tugging yarn snug on the loom
     and cutting free.  We have come
     to the inside-out of myth
     as if one morning suddenly
     but normally enough, without a word
     the river stopped.
     Last works
     and lost words
     a kind of triangulation
     or a weather in the heart of number.
     If you show us your thinking
     there is nothing to attend to
     without a story
     the mind can do nothing with thinking.
     The doors of the subway car
     remain open a brief uncertain time,
     sitting there, can you tell from
     who is getting on and who is
     getting out which way to go?
     Examine, traveler, and sit still.
     Of course one has to go to Germany
     thats where they keep most language
     nowadays, on parade,
     especially in the Lutheran parts
     which look suspiciously at other arts
     ---philology alone is good for you---
     and find painting colorless and sculpture barren.
     Freilich muss man nach Deutschland fahren.
     Come rest
     between permissions
     these comforts
     long denied you
     now deserve you
     rest after speaking
     the breasts of silence
     the milks are different,
     their comfort mixed
     silence inside words
     or after them,
     two orders of our declaration,
     wild carrots, clover, ragweed, poetry.
     Elegant enough, a pastor visits his sheep.
     On bike in a black short sleeve shirt with cleric collar
     zipping matins-ward in morning dew
     and you call this a Protestant?

     We have so many names

             nomina numina

     to call,

             call at going and at coming,


     sheep bleat on the moor.

     And there is more.  A barrage
     below the Temple, a dirigible caught in some trees.
     Dogs bark up at it as if the moon their god
     had finally come down to earth
     to them, to teach them language
     (a sound goes through the mind before it speaks)

     And the rabbits are Victorian!
     And the airplanes with broken landing gear
     rest crooked on the ancient lawn
     and the world is over already
     like a dream unpacking into day.
     Remember Isis.  The night she lay
     on the bed beside Thoth
     chaste in the cheapo hotel,
     a scandal beyond the reach of theology,
     that they would dare to touch,
     that they would do no more than touch?
     What does it mean when to a small nowhere city
     the gods come calling, jostling
     and goosing people on the street, whistling, spitting
     and walking nude their fawns in shabby parks,
     splashing through the fountain under the mean
     monument to the Confederate dead?
     In doorways, racists gibber at such antic beauty.

     We were there.  This is the throne.  We sat
     by turns on her chair.  The chair
     was made of water
     and felt like knees when we sat down.
     In sanctity we sat and read and ruled
     and the afternoons stretched out at our feet and yawned.
     Rest between renaissances.
     Rest for marble and rest for gold
     the Opels of tourists streak through rapeseed fields
     in the magic Saarland twilight
     where dark soldiers study the rising moon.
     I crossed all those rivers.
     I was born for bridges,
     privileging crossing over,
     really just wanting to walk in the sky,

     in Newark or Kingston or Highbridge or over Humber
     you can do it, one great gesture
     so little motor people just like me can go
     over sacred moving water,
     and every one of them a goddess is,
     Ryan / Rhine / Rhiannon,
     and still Annan's self delves water's tale.
     I wear this cross around my neck:
     sympathy for the victim
     odd to show it by the mark
     that tortured Him.
     I wear these shackles round my heart
     bone white, Adam's ribs.
     Criss-cross, bare skin, well meant lie,
     I raise the red flag in the cemetery.
     Investigations of an absent theme,
     Sir Edward, this would be music

     only if you listen, this would be meaning
     only if you find (I can't) a theme
     to hold this tune together,
     I can whistle something that makes no sense
     but still the wind is physical, is breath,
     says me, means you, the wind is true,
     fingers can still touch me and touch you.
     I had a theme
     but lost it in Los Angeles
     when a pregnant lady with a lisp
     looked me in the eye
     I had a theme once
     and in India it got washed away
     down the hillside in a soft monsoon
     while I watched the gravestones say their prayers
     I had a theme again and held it
     warm in my mouth like a bite from a peach
     so sweet and thick the meaningful, the juice
     dribbled down my chin and chest

     so everyone who saw me knew what I would say,
     they laughed at me until I swallowed it
     (nothing more crushing than agreement,
     consensus silences all music)
     I had a theme at last
     a kind of shapely pouting silence
     a bunch of words beyond my grasp
     all I could do was say them so I did.
                                                     Autumn 1993

RIF/T: An Electronic Space for Poetry, Prose, and Poetics
Editors: Kenneth Sherwood and Loss Pequeño Glazier
ISSN#: 1070-0072
Version 2.1 Winter 1994

KELL02.01 and RIFT02.01 copyright (c) 1994. All rights revert to author(s) upon publication. Texts distributed by RIF/T, e-poetry@ubvm, or the Electronic Poetry Center (Buffalo) may not be republished for profit in any form without express consent of author(s) and notification of the editors, but may be freely circulated among individuals for personal use provided that this copyright statement is included. Public archiving of complete issues only, in electronic or print forms, is permissible provided that no access fee is charged.

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