Jerome Rothenberg: Five dream poems, recovered

Dream Poem

A Fragment


Those who must wait, wait.


The machinery attended to,

the sheets turned back,

the steam released into the air,

the dirty particles released.


I am the foreign engineer,

the shirtless one.


I search where you are,

and I sweep

the absent leaves.*

                                          * [the ancient leaves]


Dreaming of Buddha

A Fragment


the sky intersected

by two buddhas


strange to say

& beautiful


as when we dream

the particles


fall into place —

each finds its hole


its wholeness only now

allows it


& we’re helpless

to do more


the dream of buddha




He bit me,

a blue dog,

& leapt

down from the blackened hills,

he clattered.

Blue dog

had a voice.

Call it elliptical.

Call it proud.

What possessed us

to be in love

when there were tombs

on top of tombs?

A little bird

has whispered us

to sleep.

How phantom rich

my life becomes

empty or full.

It is the fact of life

that stirs me,

not its demise



after Robert Doisneau


a man looks at

a cow’s head

all white


its eyes are shut

it sleeps

in death



                                                                        after Reverdy


A hand opens


            High & dry & curved over the roofs

            The loss of memory takes hold


            Slogans go rapidly from bad to worse


     Life’s got no chance

Something you push away & it attacks you


A fact

     Night as it withers springs to life

        Grows like a sponge

Flags fluttering restored

            So everything is threatening to die


A hill looms up & still you turn from it

                                          Not moon enough

        But where the street has opened up is where our bodies

                                        Come into sight

Eyes wide to everything

We were the lords of what we locked in place

Our groans died back in us

Sounds stayed unsounded

                                    All that was once still is

Nights shutting down at nightfall

            Too late the lonely ghost springs back to life

Beyond the fissures where men pan for gold