Jerome Rothenberg

Poems and poetics

Outsider Poems, a Mini-Anthology in Progress (48): “Lord” Timothy Dexter, from “A Pickle for the Knowing Ones; or Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress” (1848)

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To mankind at Large the time is Com at Last the grat day of Regoising what is that whye I will tell you thous three kings is Rased Rased you meane shoued know Rased on the first Royel Arch in the worid olmost Not quite but very hiw up upon thay are good mark to be scene so the womans Lik to see the frount and all peopel Loves to see them as the quakers will Com and peape slyly and say houe the doue frind father Jorge washeton is the senter king Addoms at the Rite hand the prssent king at the Left hand father gorge with his hat on the other hats of the middel king with his sword king Addoms with his Cane in a grand poster Adtetoude turning his fass to wards the first king as if thay was on sum politicks king our present king he is stands hearng being yonger and very deafe in short being one grat felosfer Looks well East & west and North & south deafe & very deafe the god of Nater has dun very much for our present king and all our former ones thay are all good I want them to Live for Ever and I beleave thay will it is hard work to be A king --- I say it is harder than tilling the ground I know it is for I find it is hard work to be A Lord I dont desier the sound but to pleas the peopel at Large Let it gou to brak the way it dus for A sort ment to help a good Lafe to Cour the sick spleney goutey dull frames Lik my selfe with the goute and so on make merry a Chealy Christon is for me only to be onnest No matter what thay worshep son monne or stars or there wife or miss if onnest Live for Ever money wont gitt thous figers so fast as I wish I have senc to Leg horn for many mr bourr is one Amonks many others I sent in the grand Crecham thous 3 kings Are plane white Leead colow at present the Royal Arch & figers cost 39 pounds wate silver the hiest Councaton order in the world so it is sade by the knowing ones I have only 4 Lions & 1 Lam up the spread Eagel has bin up 3 years upon the Coupalay I have 13 billors front in strat Row for 13 states when we begun 3 in Rear 15 foot hie 4 more on the grass see 2 the same hath at the Rite of the grand Arch 2 at the left wing 15 foot hie the Arch 17 foot hie the my hous is 3 sorey upwards of 290 feet Round the hous Nater has formed the ground Eaquel to a Solomun the onerbel Jonathan Jackson one of the first in this Country for tast borne a grat man by Nater then the best of Lurning what sot me fored for my plan having so gran spot the hool of the word Cant Excead this to thous that dont know would think I was Like halfe the world a Lier I have traveled good deale but old steady men sayeth it is the first that it is the first best in this Contry & others Contrey I tell you this the trouth that None of you all great men needent be A frunted at my preseadens & I spare Now Cost in the work I have the tempel of Reason in my garding 3 years past with a toume under it on the Eage of the grass see it cost 98 gineys besids the Coffen panted whit in side & out side touched with green Nobel trimings uncommon Lock so I can tak the kee in side and have fier works in the toume pipes & tobacker & A speaking trumpet and a bibel to read & sum good songs

John Bloomberg-Rissman: Two Poems from “In the House of the Hangman”

John Bloomberg-Rissman: tattoo with quote from Walter Benjamin
John Bloomberg-Rissman: tattoo with quote from Walter Benjamin

IN THE HOUSE OF THE HANGMAN 1107

Trying to relieve the feeling of dead meat in the breast with a swim in the sea, see lots of movie type cartoon Disney Saga, work all the time, do some work to, read about body fluids, writing letters back and forth with proposals on jobs and ideas, type no answer. How do you do? Freak accident is the thing maybe? Give me a penny for your lungs man. Imagine being someone’s butler. Hey. This is Buffy and Leila, Divine and PJ in the back without them knowing about it or agree with, icons should not have to bother. This is going to go so fucking good. Otherwise, we can hold the car. Are you with me? We can hold the car to the north and playing Sheeba, Go betweens and Meat loaf on the askassa stereo. No one can reach us, we ba: generally no. No can dou. No Sir, we can accommodate. That’s a negative sir, we have escaped. We’ve set to work removing the veil of anxious subjectivity and clotted multi-syllables from their writing, to go for a walk and to take nothing (no phone, no iPod, no iPad, nothing) except for a pad and pen. When they saw an image that they would otherwise take a picture of, they were to stop, sit down, and write the image as they saw it. No commentary.

Murat Nemet-Nejat: From “Questions of Accent” (What Is Then Accented Writing?)

[NOTE. The following was originally published in The Exquisite Corpse in 1993 & again in Thus Spake The Corpse (An Exquisite Corpse Reader, 1988-1999). Brought into the present context its central argument – as presented here – has much to say about the nature of language & identity beyond more orthodox ideas of nativism & foreignness. The emphasis on American & Jewish writings rhymes as well with matters of concern to the present editor & touched on from different perspectives in previous postings on Poems and Poetics. It is also an acknowledgement of the role played by major figures in our recent poetry & literature who have come into English writing as a second or even a third language, but in the extract cited here goes well beyond that. A complete version of Nemet-Nejat’s once controversial essay can be found elsewhere on the web. (J.R.)]

 I speak no language like a native. Though I have lived in the States since 1959, my accent still sounds foreign. I was born in Turkey, but I am not Turkish. I am Jewish. In the fifties most Jews in Turkey were Sephardim and spoke Ladino Spanish.

Jerome Rothenberg: From A CRUEL NIRVANA: Two Narratives from The Lives of the Caesars

I. Augustus

Caesar of ribald songs & nose & blemishes
of seven birthmarks on his stomach
ringworm
gravel in his urine
negligent of personal appearance when granted
an audience with the Great Bear
& on dropping off in summer
slept with the bedroom door open
to protect himself
especially by not bathing with an oil rub
after which he took a douche of water
(sulfur water)
on a wooden bath seat
ended
with a sharp sprint in the company of little boys
regarding them as freaks