Russia or the Weakness of Photography
Over the landscape walk the mailboxes disguised as whores.
We drunks walk into them and maim our pricks.
The snows threaten the idiots with a vast maze.
They will be seeking lifetimes for their hammers.
They will waste their strength pulling sickles out of the necks
of patient Ukrainian peasants, photographed by God.
As the idiots struggle, I will close shop, bid adieu to the super-
market where I stood for the language, I will
strike a number of unlikely alliances.
Riding the Trinity like a sled, Vladimir Mayakovski hits the wall.
Solzenitsin, with a mountain of Christmas packages containing
millions of little concentration camps, stumbles on a
banana peel and goes straight through Carol Burnett, out her
Awkwardness awaits all members of this genre.
There is one commercial only in the entire history of the world:
God, and it only comes on once a year, at night.
In it, He says this: “Any man (mensch) with a maimed prick who
seek shelter from the snow, must first bury his axe.”
Behind Him, a thousand doors open as if the piggybanks in the
are broken, and showers of gold coins come down on you.
Russia has unfastened her skirts.
There is a storm of icons, re-raging Saint Georges, feathers,
feathers, basements full of paper Stalins, hairpins,
lutes, knock knock who’s there, short prayers.
Meat! Clocks! Geography! Time! All Go Boom!
HAS BEEN NAMED AFTER THE CROSS
THE HISSING CROSS
These, comrades, are teethmarks on the wall.
I made them out of boredom.
I lie in a clean bed now under the gaze
of ten faithful scribes working
on my theory of the Great Central Sorrow.
The moon shines from a whorl of blue snow.
Through the baroque dacha door loaded with wooden saints
comes woman on horse Alice Codrescu, and says:
I come to change your punctuation!
From a Trilogy of Birds
in birds is our stolen being. from summer to summer
they carry on my destruction, more obvious
as i get closer to death.
in the kitchen powerful lights stay on at night
watching the summer passage of birds.
the sea contains
their thick excrement, our longing to fly,
the sea changes color.
weak ships over the water.
i am seasonal.
i offer poisoned lights to passing birds
through the guarded door of the kitchen.
it suddenly opens.
i catch the sea when it is taken away
by disciplined clouds of birds.
The Sin of Wanting a New Refrigerator
Sin is impervious
to past transmutations
yet this is how it happened:
the bareness of my cell to open
in the vaster bareness of a new refrigerator,
having come all the way from the First Avenue of my
New York days,
from the fruit stand of the dark
fat merchant. He opened it up
in another Universe: the milk bottles inside
lit up like Angels. First Avenue
refrigerated. I was a penny short
and I still am.
They tell me here that new refrigerators
are forbidden, oh
that penny had in it a sin
as elemental as the copper
it was made of
Everything I do is against meaning.
This is partly deliberate, mostly spontaneous.
Wherever I am I think I’m somewhere else.
This is partly to confuse the police, mostly to
avoid myself es-
pecially when I have to confirm
the obvious which always
sits on a little table and draws a lot
of attention to itself.
So much so that no one sees the chairs
and the girl sitting on one of them.
With the obvious one is always at the movies.
The other obvious which the loud obvious
is not obvious enough to merit a
surrender of the will.
But through a little hole in the boring report
God watches us faking it.
I hate photographs,
those square paper Judases of the world,
the fakers of love’s image of all things.
They show you parents where the frogs of doom
are standing under the heavenly flour,
they picture grassy slopes
where the bugs of accident whirr twisted
in the flaws of the world.
It is weird,
this violence of particulars
against the unity of being
Image by S Donaghy
Three Types of Loss
The loss of one’s temper in a room with absolutely nobody
to catch it
is a loss of time insofar
as time is the only place things
get lost in naturally
losing things constantly implies
a frequency of loss which when measured
is equal to the wavelength one is on in
relation to the things one loses
action that cannot be translated in loss is the only
things doomed to loss meet
and get lost together that much faster
all things have in common a tendency to get lost
it is only human affections that
keep them in place
then there is a person called Mr. Loss
who answers house calls the same way
a doctor does—he is supposed
to diagnose the condition of things
on the move and by inevitably confirming
everyone’s worst fears he makes
the condition official
the universe gets lost
and then reappears bathed
in a different light
everything has a place to get lost in
and this certainty makes
most things stay put
since one does not lose what one
does not have
most things make themselves necessary
loss of memory after a sleepless night
implies that the things one could have been
dreaming about were the nails that kept
those memories in place
loss of memory at a certain point of heightened interest
in the thing one can’t remember
proves the fact that although this is
a universe of nonsimultaneous phenomena
most things would like to be seen in context
memory disregards context
it is an enemy of experience
therefore unreliable and since
basic memory is a condition of survival
i assume that we survive
in spite of experience
when one forgets as a philosophy
each forgotten thing is raised to the status
of a god (i.e. an objective condition)
and makes everyone else remember
things that they haven’t experienced
some memories bring with them brand new
than the original contexts in which they occurred
and thus set up the conditions
for brand new memories
most things endowed with memory die
prenatal memory is common property
but it is not
words and pictures are the only
things one can forget at leisure
and look up later
what gets lost in translation
reappears in disbelief
translation is the only form of communication
where loss is practiced
as part of the game
literal translations lose music while
poetic translations lose the original
elements which translate themselves
into other elements
do so at the expense of energy
fat translators are common:
they feed on what they cannot translate
the conscious and the unconscious
are languages in a state of translation
and their respective losses
are the gods
translated in english
most things take off their clothes
things lost in translation
band together symbiotically
and haunt the world
war is an aggregate of losses
the day is a literal translation
the night is a poetic translation
energies translate without apparent loss
but the use of them
makes up by being pure loss
translation and use are in a parenthetical
fate is the necessity for translation
Power is an inferiority complex wound up like a clock by an
inability to relax. At the height of my power I have to be taken to
a power source in the woods where I am recharged. This power
source is not actually in the woods: it’s in my mother. It hums
quietly in her heart like an atomic plant and the place to plug in is
A Serious Morning
being serious is a
perversion of natural form
an extension of a bruised baby hand
behind which towers the tilted needle
of a dim father’s body.
and the bees of his eyes dying with contempt.
i’m awash with the serious tools
of a mysterious trade.
the hushed windows of my receding house.
the power lines humming death wishes.
the dry wines in the palm of the hand.
if i were to laugh my ass off at all this
i would take up
a form of politics that ends
with a cheerleader licking the wounds
of my machine gunned body
fear is my way
of not being here although
i am afraid of falling asleep for fear
of a frightening thing taking place in my absence.
i am also
afraid of the axe i keep behind the bed hoping
that no one will come in or rather
that someone will
and there will be blood.
sitting there in the dark seeing myself kill
over and over
is not fear,
it is pleasure
though when the awareness of pleasure floats up
and i learn that it is pleasure
i become very afraid.
this new house is fear
of the unknown neighbors stretching for miles
in each direction with only
space for houses with no one in them
space for dark windows over basements filled with fear.
the long stone walk from the door
to the top of the stairs
has three major checkpoints of fear:
the cottage on the right where the spooks sit
on the bicycle chains,
the old jew’s apartment with the curtains drawn
over the candle light
and finally the stairs themselves going up
through minor and major stations of fear
which at the age of six are like the days themselves,
and now the fear of even writing about fear
the fear of awareness
death covers me with fine dust.
i love used fat books. they are
like used fat bodies coming out of sleep
covered with fingerprints and shiny
i wish to read the way i love:
jumping from mirror to mirror like a drop of oil
farther and farther from my death.
but god gives us fat books and fat bodies
to use for different reasons
and less a metaphor i cannot say
what haunts me