Poems by Kate Fagan
Cento for Election Day
And I heard my Coleridge say, “I am
the patron saint of everyone who died
before you.” Had to carry a torch,
a hunger you’ll never show.
Under alien skin 16A and B
I bring my body through
this mortal world, American town
founded on a hologram. This matter-
of-fact free house, this one nightmare
reaching out to consume you.
Driving down Broadway
I told my child: it was never yours,
only a naming call, pitched their tents
& destroyed whole nations
eight miles from here. What?
We live in a burning sideline,
same old fetch. We do this landscape
crowned and slow. At the crossroads
I mutate into a flower that blooms
once every 25 years. Words
large enough to contain you: during,
pine, upend, the eating of men.
Through a Glass Lightly
Cento for Beginners
The nasturtium is to itself already
a memory. It opens its leaves
ribbed impression in the grass
that forms like shadow.
I see it plain
as a living fretwork
in the distortion of sound,
press a leaf to a winter dream
of your hand
Our love calls and we lie
in the future of cells dividing,
a water drop
clean in its own shape.
A nasturtium between itself
and us, showing the light.
Time to be born.
Cento for Pam Brown
If I could take a flight from zero
to infinity, get lost nearby
that Eloquence — now I am free!
form like hills & dunes,
like grass. I do a lot of thinking.
Sky goes rococo as the nearest dream
is led away. We behave badly
in dangerous clothes & laugh for days.
I want to remember this chaos,
song of one breath in A.
Phantoms on the home stretch
call my name. Bird magician
a woman opening the heavy door.
There are no lyrics left
& another reality howls
as the new gets
newer. I stood exactly where
those piles of books carried me.
Over ruins of this comedy
I lie surrounded by beauty
until the Pleaides blink
like a sparkler in the HaHa Room.
Cento for Peter Minter
The way it touches
& then retouches, sucking up
glass channels: more volts!
More volts! I’m dying
of light, two carbon rings
pass from the world in sequence.
And we saw St. Elmo’s fire spitting
ions in the ether, our body curving
in heroic hope. At last I am
part of the machinery.
Oh the dark stars!
Oh the symmetry & spine!
Foam out the reverb,
shine like rock
cut from chemistry and fire.
As I walk in the centre of time
I’ll tell you: I am redistributed.
Everything merges with the night
& we fold together. You place
my hand in yours, electric —
see how the breeze remembers.
The source texts for “Proviso” are Anne Waldman, chapters 4, 6, 8, 11, 15, 19, 21, and 22 of Iovis Book 1; chapters 5, 10, and 25 of Iovis Book 2; “Book of Events” from “Alchemical Elegy”; “Rogue State,” “Rattle Up a Deer,” “Global Positioning,” and “Pieces of an Hour.”
The source texts for “Luminous” are Peter Minter, “Mythos,” “Lust,” and “Melody” from “Empty Texas”; Morning, Hyphen, “Elenge,” “Order Fulfilment,” “Besides Good & Evil,” “Political Economy,” and Raphael’s “Madonna of the Pinks,” “ii. Elementaries,” and “xiv” from “Australiana”; Brian Eno, “I Fall Up” and “Some Words” from My Squelchy Life; “Sky Saw,” “St Elmo’s Fire,” and “Everything Merges With The Night” from Another Green World; “The Belldog” from After The Heat; “Kurt’s Rejoinder” from Before And After Science; and “Fractal Zoom” and “Wire Shock” from Nerve Net.
The source texts for “Chrome Arrow” are Pam Brown, “Laminex Radio,” “Darkenings,” “Evening,” “Blue Again,” “Miracles,” “Out and About,” “Blues in A,” “About a Death,” “Every American Wins a Prize,“Augury,” “City Fringe,” “Thread Drift,” “Fall to Float,” and “Worldly Goods”; Alice Notley, “It Would,” “Poem (‘Why do I want to tell it’),” “Iphigenia,” “Mid-80’s,” “Beginning with a stain, as the Universe did perhaps,” “At Night the States,” “Little Egypt,” and “How Spring Comes”; Emily Dickinson, poems 1268, 321, 318, and 754; and Patti Smith, “Witt,” “Translators (tr.),” “Precious Little,” “Notice 2,” “Music (A Woman),” and “The Pedestal.”
The source texts for “Through a Glass Lightly” are Arkadii Dragomoschenko, parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9 of “Nasturtium as Reality”; and Seamus Heaney, parts 1, 3, and 4 of “Bone Dreams,” parts 6 and 11 of “Station Island,” parts 3 and 4 of “Field Work,” “Summer Home,” and “The Peninsula.”
“Proviso” appeared previously in BlackBox Manifold issue 4 and The Best Australian Poems 2010 (Black Ink), and is forthcoming in Spoken in One Strange Word, the anthology of the 2011 Queensland Poetry Festival. “Through a Glass Lightly” appeared previously in HEAT 24 (2011).