[ Stardust ; Oscar Pettiford ]
b- Oscar Pettiford
p- Don Abney
To fish from a cloud in the sky
You must find a comfortable spot,
Spend a day looking down
Peer at your ceiling:
Where a light dangles, hook & line
Could be slipping through.
Under the hull of a boat
A fish will see things this way,
Looking up while swimming by —
A wavering pole’s refraction
Catching its eye.
What will you catch?
With what sort of bait?
Take care or you’ll catch yourself,
A fish might say,
As inescapable skeins of shadow
Scatter a net
Over the face of the deep.
They sap man’s substance
as moon the dew.
A rope grows erect
from the crown of the head.
A black swan hatches
from a pebble.
And a flock of angels in the sky
is taking an evening class
on the skid pan.
I dream, so I dream.
that three times three is nine,
that the right-hand
and when the circus leaves
the trampled ground will
once more overgrow with grass.
Sometimes we mimic migrating birds
sort of fleeing from the all too
ordinary, looking for ourselves in another place
to find out: are we still
the ones we think we know
and how many new surroundings will we
soon braid into our sight, for example
of a wood close to home, a too-familiar
path or instead just the unknown
direction that we here now wine in hand
unfold from the map for tomorrow? But
no matter how far we travel, we wander and sleep
always in the same body that keeps intruding
immodestly, letting us know what it has gathered
of gusto delight hunger and being tired of
and letting us out on bail only in dreams.
We love it and we rage at it.
--Hester Knibbe (tans. Jacquelyn Pope)
[Three Legged Raven; Larry Vienneau Jr]............
I occasionally have difficulty separating my work from the world, but I have come to see, over the course of these years, that it is a world—mine, albeit messy, magisterial, sullen, ecstatic, skeptical, limited, lyric, and in love. It’s a private, untutored, asymmetrical, and homespun experience with both style and form. For instance, the negotiations of loneliness and vulnerability are formal concerns. The need to connect the inner life with the social is a formal concern, or the invisible with the material, or the staging of private denouement within an economic political reality. None of these are new conditions of poesis, but still they exist as formal problems, as in how to address the momentary and time itself. Maybe it is simply a form of being awake to the polyphony of worlds, or words. I’d like to think that being a poet is a form of disobedience, a form of civil disobedience—perhaps because I’ve signed up to be a mystery in the face of violence.
And I feel I’ve become an ethnographer of my nervous system, that dark chemistry of the body—dark in the sense of illegible, even with all the new sciences—and the effect it has on expression and form. This might sound crazy, but in the act of locating a ground in this otherwise dark process, I came to an understanding that was, for me, revelatory—that the sensory data recorded in my poetry is both a fiction of consciousness and the physical reality of my nervous system. Hence the William James epigraph for this book, “The world contains consciousness as well as atoms and the one must be written down as just as essential as the other.”
My nervous system is populated not only by the people in my life, but also the people I’ve read all my life. These books and these voices and these sounds that have constituted my imagination. As I have said elsewhere, in many ways, my bibliography is my autobiography. Being a writer, what I have always believed is that if one doesn’t love other writers, filmmakers, painters, artists, and poets, one will never love oneself. If I don’t love them with wild abandon—which doesn’t preclude study, rigor, and critical thought—I’ll never know myself, never discover myself.
Farewell is a token we give or
take along this path of virtual
gates. To enter is to exit-- for
going hence is arriving here. Grey
to grey. The actual landscape is
threshold. The way words are
only notes from an earlier caprice
of meaning. Know this by the lines
on your face, hands and throat.
It was a difficult beauty, tracing
a shadow cast from fragments
of broken narrative. I heard tell
of a man who asked for help, hanging
from a cliff face. A voice replied
"let go," as if faith were a free-
fall unto this couch. No matter
what I believe, the door to my head
will not open from the outside.
--from 'Façades for Theron Ware'; Peter Gizzi
Put your map right with the world
The person who knows where
has made an accurate study
As to know
implies a different reading
and must be pinned and sighted
A church tower is good for reference
but losing ground
satellites orbiting the earth
track a true arc
but perhaps too grand
for everyday distances
And never mind about the bewilderment
"I'm at sea"
i am sitting
i am sitting
in front of the window
with a cup of coffee in my right hand...
and looking at the footprints
of a crow in the snow, regular
which implies nothing, just a crow
that can be black or white
i am looking too at the footprints
of the humankind, irregular and chaotic
which imply nothing and mean “something"
which can be full of hallucinatory reason
that aim to organize the world
and make it chaotic
like their own footprints.
The world weeps. There are no tears
To be found. It is deemed a miracle.
The president appears on screens
In villages and towns, in cities in jungles
And jungles still affectionately called cities.
He appears on screens and reads a story.
Whose story is he reading and why?
What lessons are to be learned from this story
About a time that has not arrived, will not arrive, is here?
Time of fire and images of fire climbing toward the sun
Time of precious and semi-precious liquids
Time of a man and a woman doused in ink
Rolling across streams and down valleys
Trying to leave some string of words behind.
No one ever talks about Poe and Thoreau in the same breath. They stand at opposite ends of American thought. But that’s the beauty of it. A drunk from the South… And a teetotaler from the North…. Poe was artifice and gloom of midnight chambers. Thoreau was simplicity and the radiance of the outdoors.
In their wildly idiosyncratic ways, each took it upon himself to reinvent America. In his reviews and critical articles, Poe battled for a new kind of native literature, an American literature free from English and European influences. Thoreau’s work represents an unending assault on the status quo, a battle to find a new way to live here. Both men believed in America, and both men believed that America had gone to hell, that it was crushed to death by an ever-growing mountain of machines and money. How was a man to think in the midst of all that clamor? They both wanted out….
For the fact was, America had indeed gone to hell. The country was split in two, and we all know what happened just a decade later. Four years of death and destruction. A human bloodbath generated by the very machines that were supposed to make us all happy and rich.
I watch a squirrel get run over by a car on my walk to work. She is lying dead in the street and still has an acorn in her little hands. I am amazed at how she is able to hold on to her acorn after being tumbled like that, after bouncing so high off the street. I walk over to the squirrel and see that her face is blown to bits and looks like uncased sausage spilling onto the asphalt. But that acorn is still so tight in her hands. I pick her up by her tail, take off my dress shirt and swaddle her in it, then put her in my bag. I know right where she is as I walk into work, everybody looking at me, everybody asking me about my shirtlessness. The world is as steady as if it were sewn into the skin of the universe.
The mind is a hotel with a thousand rooms. When I tilt my head a certain way, I think about certain things. When I tilt my head another way, I think about other things. If I sleep on the right side of my face, for example, I’d dream of a pale rose, the future, or a continental diner in Passaic, New Jersey. When I sleep on the left side of my face, I’d dream that a hand is squeezing my heart, that I’m in prison, or that I’m watching hockey at an airport bar, about to miss a flight.
There’s something to be said for banality,
the way it keeps everything on a level plane,
one cliche blithely following another
like cows heading toward the pasture.
How lovely sometimes not to think
about Russian Futurism, or the second law
of thermodynamics, or how thinking itself
requires some thoughtfulness.
I’d like to ask if Machiavelli
ever owned a dog named “Prince.”
I’d like to imagine Rosalind Franklin
lounging pleasantly by a wood stove.
Let the mind take a holiday,
the body put its slippers on.
It’s a beautiful day, says the banal,
and today, I’m happy to agree
with its genial locutions.
Woof, woof, goes the neighbor’s dog.
The sun is pouring in through the window,
heating up the parlor, the blue sky is so blue,
and the cumulous clouds are looking very cumulous.
I’m all for reading a murder mystery,
something with flair but forgettable.
Or some novelette whose hero’s name
is Hawk or Kestrel, a raptor bird
soaring above his ravished love.
I’m lying on the couch with easy puzzles.
I’m playing a song that has no accidentals.
Life’s but a dream, comme ci, comme ça.
No doubt, tomorrow I’ll be famished
for what’s occult and perilous,
all those knots in the brain,
all the words that are hard to crack.
Today, I’m floating like a feather,
call me Falcon, look me up
in the field guide under Blissful,
Empty-headed, under everything
that loves what it does today,
and requires no explanation.