Jerome Rothenberg

Poems and poetics

Aimé Césaire: From the original version (1939) of “Notebook of a Return to the Native Land” (29-37)

Translation from French by Clayton Eshleman & A. James Arnold with a Note on the Original by the Translators

29
     At the end of first light, the wind of long ago—of betrayed trusts, of uncertain 
evasive duty and that other dawn in Europe—arises…

30
     To leave. My heart was humming with emphatic generosities. To leave… I would
arrive sleek and young in this land of mine and I would say to this land whose
loam is part of my flesh: “I have wandered for a long time and I am coming back
to the deserted hideousness of your sores.”
     I would come to this land of mine and I would say to it: “Embrace me without
fear… And if all I can do is speak, it is for you I shall speak.”
     And again I would say:
     “My mouth shall be the mouth of those calamities that have no mouth, my voice
the freedom of those who break down in the prison holes of despair.”
     And on the way I would say to myself:
     “And above all, my body as well as my soul beware of assuming the sterile
attitude of a spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of miseries is not a
proscenium, a man screaming is not a dancing bear…”
     And behold here I am come home!

Outsider Poems, a Mini-Anthology in Progress (49): from The Ahmed Fragments, “Of Ants, Arabs & the Art of Civilization”

Translated by Pierre Joris

(The Ahmed Fragments are my translations/adaptations of a series of monologues improvised in 1972/1973 in front of a tape recorder by Ahmed Taraoui, an Algerian worker “born about 1940,” and published under the title Une vie dalgérien, est-ce un livre que les gens vont lire? [ Does an<

Dave Brinks: From “A Pot of Lips” in THE SECRET BRAIN: Selected Poems 1995-2012, three collaborations

Cover image collage by Dave Brinks
Cover image collage by Dave Brinks

                                 This world is simply the curtain
                                       concealing the true mise-en-scène
                                               of the eternal spectacle


                                                          —Jean Arp

Slingshot of the Golden Loam
in collaboration with Andrei Codrescu

Dear Mister Saucy Pants (aka. God)

you shine like honey
                            and bed your lust
between us & the blood
of a thousand hungry sleep scrolls

where's your manners?

Jerome Rothenberg: From The Gorky Variations (in progress), “Child of an Idumean Night”

 Arshile Gorky: Child of an Idumean Night
Arshile Gorky: Child of an Idumean Night

(1)
Every hair in his beard was bristling.

Every flag along the border brought war closer,
pierced the father’s heart,
architects & gardeners baled water,
tigers roamed the city,
singers chanting beard to beard.

Jerusalem drew closer to Philistia,
God watching how the holy race leapt from the fire

Mechanics were the last to leave,
all in a row.

American & fat,
fucked senseless.


(2)
They celebrate a crystal solstice,
a sound behind them of a brass harmonica,

Rae Armantrout: Four New Poems from a Work in Progress 2012

                ALL SOULS

Pallid, thin skinned
potatoes bunched
like grapes
on yellow stems.


          *

I can’t remember
my mother

or

This is not the mother
I remember.


          *

When asked
if she’s frightened,

the raped child
whispers

that she is afraid
of ghosts.