Introduction: Fifteen years ago I discovered a cache of worksheets that I had abandoned in the early 1990s. Going through them, I found fascinating passages and lines in poems that as poems did not work. Rather than losing this material with everything else, I typed it up. I think there must have been a hundred or so entries, one to five or six lines each. Since there was no continuity, I put the cut out pieces in a lettuce dryer, spun it, and ask Caryl to pick them out one by one. Her random pick determined the order in which they appeared.
[Originally published in Khurbn & Other Poems (New Directions, 1989), “The Nature Theater of Oklahoma” fell out of general circulation when I incorporated the title poems of that book along with Poland/1931 and The Burning Babe, into Triptych (2007). The principal reference points in the present set are a season spent in Oklahoma and the title of a chapter in Kafka’s Amerika, very much in my mind throughout that sojourn.
[Edging toward two decades since the first publication of PoemsfortheMillennium in 1995, the University of California Press will shortly be publishing volume4, both expanding & concentrating the focus into a 2000-year (two-millennium) mapping of Maghrebian (North African) literature with a range similar to what P