Jerome Rothenberg: from “A Further Witness,” a poem in progress

AS THE SKY GOES BLACK

 

fixed in place

or running

half a man

& half

a crazed

machine

 

he feels himself

becoming

what he ran from

breaking free

of bones

& skin

 

a solitary

eye

that looks out

at a street

covered

with tiny birds

 

yammering

chirping

whose screams

call him

to life

& always birds                            (Han Shan)

 

my burden

more than

yours

a life

so poor

& pure

 

succumbing

to their

sounds

their wounds

will raise himself

by inches

 

sail aloft

the dream

is over

with our hands

we touch

the earth

 

beneath us

paw it

watch

in wonder

as the sky

goes black

 

25.iv.13

 

 

THE FLOW OF TIME

 

to pose

a question

& to answer

with a further

question

adding

one

on one

he finds

the choice

absurd

but cannot stop

the flow

of time*                                             *of rhyme

which is

no flow

but all

exists

at once

the street

has trees

once small

now grown

beyond

his wildest

dreams

the waters

curbside

rushing

toward a hole

that lands him*                               * strands him

where

he started

childhood

past

& buried

count

the hours

shrunk

to minutes

as the universe

has laws

too easily

rebuked                                                * rebuffed

where time

stands still

reversed

a sorry

instance*                                               * instant

 

27.iv.13

 

 

A PERFECT CIRCLE

 

the protocol

of light

runs through

the dreamer’s

thoughts

 

I seize it

unmindful

call it

my own

a flash

 

redundant

burning

kings

of chaos

rising up

 

from front

to back

the colors

make

a perfect circle

 

particles

in flight

the forest

with its thousand

birds

 

no prototype

more real

an actuality

of hidden

life

 

a fantasy

of animals

like narcoleptic

mice                                                           (for John Solt)

& spiders

 

see

the sidewalk

rise

& strike you

dead

 

the way

the road

to paradise

recoils

& binds us

 

9.v.13