A litter bin vexes the mill, we howl
for more. The complex call, the xenophobic
alternatives, with related concerns having
reached a critical mast. What is shared, at
best, is intriguing, your life, this
surrogate social struggle. Language a
sorrow gate, malled environ, woody
ardour. In doing so clearly foreground,
is now plain, of particulate importance, if
only in reflected convenience. “I hate
speech” & speech don’t like me none too good
either. Instead of rat brains I ate gnat
wings. East of paradise, north of the
corridor, to which none is subject, all
member. Stepping through the water to the
mops. Snow covers the boats, smothers
the folks. Otherwise, the damage already
glows, slows, mows. A cause, a
pose, something on vapor (they used to be
the leaders of the avant garde, but now
they just want to be understood). Only
fragments are (f)actual. Shapes sloshing,
the wave of pandemonium or gloss of
consternation, mute in the (a) sea that only
scatters. Everyone keeps shouting
in my ears: but rest assured, dear papa,
that these are my very own sentiments and
have not been borrowed from anyone. I want
to put this word here (the dead
should have known better). Folding cups
to receive syllables. The
flimsy charms, hysteric prognostication. She looked
so nice you kind of wonder about her
husband. O soredea! O weedsea! Men in
Aida are appealing, aren’t they? A day
with Achilles in silly garb, Apollo on a
deep hill—all pay high prices for full
head, misunderstood as a measure
of distance across a level field of things
each defining a spiral dressed in shadow,
tracing the rustling of language’s identity
turned into creamed figures, like constant
commotion, repeatedly connoting. This
I saw and said before dis-
covering the wren. An ordinary, empty
tune, inflated yet miniature, elbowed
enzymatically. Stillness
crumpling; holding the map that is
unattached, figurative boot in backstage
foolscap. Apply thumb
for answer: insatiable
fatigue. For polis is peals,
pelts, pages. Deep snow
behind a red temple. Last week I
wrote, “This morning
the swelling’s died & pilots
compete for the sober hue in a pile
of broken-up sentiments (tenements).” Not
fixed!? When then!? All that
aside, a girl is running. (—Don’t
tell me a girl is running.)
Wild vistas inside blistering
paint (pant, pummel the
chimera). My vision of aspects
houses prefabrication (the enigma
rose before the triangulated
nose). (Looking on hopelessly
like children eating baloney.)
Derision thrives whether or not
it is possible to reply. I have
destroyed my ammunition to make way
for an ocean that shadows me as
I walk in the unpaid-for park, yet
the traffic draws away from me and I
am ill at ease listening to the sugar
pour and the gravity steam. Shall
we stroll into focus or submerge
in ponds: example is gratified
by its spout. On the way to L.A. I
meet a surrogate for you in a bar, give him
room in the passenger seat and desultory
conversation, a smoke, kisses, blowjob,
encouragement, $5, concerned disturbed
uptight look. How can I characterize you
that way? You’re really gone. I confuse
you with the reader. I can’t scream
in space. I come at myself (I’m
not interested in pursuing lines
of thought): you can hear the shapes
and grates of the swoon. If to witness,
if to judge, which is to say exacerbate
the only sign of mottled hiss, embroidered
embrasure. These
are not my words but those that summer
gives me, with a tenderness quite
unknown in the real world, where
there is little to remember but
stormy days. I would have a house
of my own, with a bay of pastel
miasma, reality leaking
from its edges, as the context
conditions. Therefore, my style
seems to have fallen to
pieces, deteriorated
in the three-year interim
between books; others
may write better-made poems
but those poems with their elegant
turns of phrase, their vivid
imagery, even their conceptual
excellence, often add up to nothing.
Either poetry is real as, or realer than,
life, or it is nothing, a stupid
& stupefying occupation for zombies.
For my poetry is informed by
something inside that doesn’t
flinch & won’t budge. & I
could never have done it alone.
I may work in the factory but I glide
to the music of the anemones.



The part plots a spindle but the
true scales wattle off the clock.
At at which pops as someone
nodules quarts, wholly non-check
slowdown. Bend nothing & nothing
will bend you, jam the gorge
astride the loom, black-away to
tending send. A single everything
points: the mud of bulk, tonal
belief, perfect compassion. &
graciously pissed (oh Hannah!):
acting like a typical male
chauvinist pigsty. Nothing
comes quickly, too nervous,
bulb which whose, you thought,
screened bottom (I likes my
repeated stupid) across (don’t
complete) sent(i)ence. That’s all
a silhouette for obedience, the
oilcloth cuffs quip, maybe
accuses the whole world of his
darkness. You seem unable to
understand that (pygmy whitemeat):
drooping as texture, each embody
dynamite bluntesse, puffing
lint wheels syllabary to
tea cakes. OK? Monotonous
agitations thrown across spent
bonbons. Well well well well.
You have to enforce digestion.
May I slip through the greased
palms of sociology tonight? Without
even knowing what it looks
like. I’m always resistant, while she
sets as the shadow of my
thoughts. Passion toys curiously: seem
to recall, holding what you expected
to be left out, finalized
occurrence, past eventual
pronouncing. At home, it means
light to them. Luck as forced
movement, passionate bondage.
Only by the moon’s house, the
light’s frost . . . Arm
jammed, meaning’s glance coats
cool, cones emblem’s jars, erupts
immense drone, cucumbered out
of clock, load dickering. Tuned
full, leveraged gline. This
is the evening before I ask,
my hands hardened to let water
in, or substance, acceleration,
a line of sight inflating to
become extinct. Listen
to reason. It’s only a few hours
away and plunges down. Great
logs of the moon: The things that
make up daily life, meteorites and
meteroids, air, food, housing.
Years stars caught in space.
My reefs, my trees having fallen.
Then the reader crowds the page
with the rush of ideas: a portable
altar strapped to his back, waving
fables and faces and manoeuvering
between points, holes in clouds,
condensing into a stream of ink.
The present moss tears backward
shading the grief
of heaven’s earthlessness, and melting
into empty air. Blind love for the
future, I used to say, as if
measure met my grave. Dreams
wheel their pale course, we write
in sand. . . . But you’ve
changed—money, self-destruction,
metabolism, large major things,
the real stuff. I remember you
in certain immense situations: how
the timing was wrong, or don’t
surge with me now, how what I
could accept purples your words,
flash images of fractional chance,
crystal methodology, giddy
visibility. When she smiles
another star is lit; when she laughs,
she drops the balloon. Carrying
swollen changes that rip in the whirl
responsiveness makes. Lining
the pictures & deliriously
swinging upward toward our hats.
I used to be American but now I just
speak English. Conventicles sledging
tumbled delusions, danishes in
the pool. As per permanent noncling 100%
banlon fodder (semidistinguishable
dent) nods out to liquidating
dropsy (would like to shut him out
of misbegotten congelation of
debasements). I mean I wanted to hear
everything, not any way to pass
judgment, as if one could remain
or could stand aside from things we
saw. Light long enough to recover,
to gain a second beam. Mother tongue,
father pastrami. Then one evening I
twist myself around, keeping track
of all my loose ends, which I hadn’t
expected because I’d always come out
as component parts, so I cut back, can’t
see, at which point I’m facing
perhaps the ablative absolute,
humiliation of a class system to
create final segment but now stands
by itself, in someone else’s
clothes, as a way to set off to just
where I’ve wanted to be all along:
spectacularly encumbered but
composed (some might say extended), a
surface you can’t hide in front of,
or out of fumbling exhalation—tense
windows—sound a press, gap a spill.
Browsing for ice, the fragrance of
its labor staggers outside the house
of Rimes, green bottles smoked as
they’re hitched, the fish in the
pail, and the pail in my hand. Later
we go to lunch, but now we talk shoes.
I began all this in April, 1972, at
3:35 am. Those were the intentions
I wrote down. In this way, from
the outside, I put everything in.
On April 11 I dreamt the history
of all people in the world, good &
evil. In June I started it again
& what started it was that I wrote
this: Her pins prick my skin.
A blinding wedge, maybe the shape
of selection (seduction): you leave
traces impossible to tear, I want
to get out of here. Hide me.
White verges, whirrings of remorse,
seeth through the terminal, a kind of
restored diligence, radial in its
appetite, when the evening shuts in
space or relaxes its axes
in translucent thirst, ineluctably
tainted by tendency. Whose blousing
anecdotes within which trenchant
anarchies tour ardor, penchant for
flatulent latitudes backing into
breath. The impact of the pipe
like ice cream at the end of a
sequence of themes memorialized
in a pinhole. Blurry wheezes in the
ricochet, crushing puffs of
swelling fellowship. The Hudson
lies, we get over who dies. Plethora
jellies where the Persian Gulf
empties into the roof. Say it,
damn it! Then suddenly, a sedan
comes around blasting and I drop
to the sidewalk behind a hydrant, squinting
to get the plate number. (Impotence
itself should not discredit a man,
but no one considers supporting it.)
It is seven o’clock. I put on my
coat and hat. Samples are recorded
with a spinning arc, balancing
incontinently to find the proscenium.
Yet politics excited them, the avarice
for neglected ideas under the locks
in the hallway. No end
in sight—nothing breaks, or
spend all the time pending, sense
of where, whose to what’s, seen
as sidereal blink, as in: sure could use
a cold drink, a hot potato, an
exact definition (remonstration). I’m
afraid because I know a word
without having seen it or read it.
(All experience is conditioned by expectation.)
& my feelings yearn for names known
only by interval and tone. The points
connect only once. I come
to the door, I stop at the door, I
push the door open.


“Reading the Tree: 1 and 2” have as their source the poems collected in In the American Tree, edited by Ron Silliman (Orono, Maine: National Poetry Foundation, 1986).




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