when the unrested and fierce decline
and when unrested the fierce decline
and when fierce the unrested decline
all point to cohesion
with the poem ends purpose
who says that of words
his trunk is sheet metal music
or black gold swings elephant
hidden from the rest of the world
the rest of the world hidden from
from the rest of the world hidden intention
speak to my mother tongue
to speak mother my tongue clipped
to my mother speak tongue
what word for language in language
in what language word for language speak
for language word in what language”
Mukta Sambrani, from “Anna’s poem about sleep”
"I gave up before birth, it is not possible otherwise, but birth there had to be, it was he, I was inside, that’s how I see it, it was he who wailed, he who saw the light, I didn’t wail, I didn’t see the light, it’s impossible I should have a voice, impossible I should have thoughts, and I speak and think, I do the impossible, it is not possible otherwise, it was he who had a life, I didn’t have a life, a life not worth having, because of me, he’ll do himself to death, because of me, I’ll tell the tale, the tale of his death, the end of his life and his death, his death alone would not be enough, not enough for me, if he rattles it’s he who will rattle, I won’t rattle, he who will die, I won’t die, perhaps they will bury him, if they find him, I’ll be inside, he’ll rot, I won’t rot, there will be nothing of him left but bones, I’ll be inside, nothing left but dust, I’ll be inside, it is not possible otherwise, that’s how I see it, the end of his life and his death, how he will go about it, go about coming to an end, it’s impossible I should know, I’ll know, step by step, impossible I should tell, I’ll tell, in the present, there will be no more talk of me, only of him, of the end of his life and his death, of his burial if they find him, that will be the end, I won’t go on about worms, about bones and dust, no one cares about them, unless I’m bored in his dust, that would surprise me, as stiff as I was in his flesh, here long silence, perhaps he’ll drown, he always wanted to drown, he didn’t want them to find him, he can’t want now anymore, but he used to want to drown, he usen’t to want them to find him, deep water and a millstone, urge spent like all the others, but why one day to the left, to the left and not elsewhither, here long silence, there will be no more I, hell never say I anymore, no one will talk to him, he won’t talk to himself, he won’t think any more, he’ll go on, I’ll be inside, he’ll come to a place and drop, why there and not elsewhere, drop and sleep, badly because of me, he’ll get up and go on, badly because of me, he can’t stay still any more, because of me, he can’t go on any more, because of me, there’s nothing left in his head, I’ll feed it all it needs."
Samuel Beckett, “Fizzle 4 [I gave up before birth]”
"my dream of another alphabet
I could not read in which I wrote my work.”
Stuart Dischell, from “The Mysteries of Aurora”
"The body tells its own stories without need for a narrator.
every day intensifies its jottings and perambulating speech. Even elbows
have their tales—littlest finger rehearses his own chapter.
Special knots keep the body from escaping.
Mostly the body lies softly there
after having been cut open
like a whale cut
Youna Kwak, from “Dolor Diary”
"I will speak to you in stone-language
(answer with a green syllable)
I will speak to you in snow-language
(answer with a fan of bees)
I will speak to you in water-language
(answer with a canoe of lightning)
I will speak to you in blood-language
(answer with a tower of birds)”
Octavio Paz, from “Duration”
"It was difficult to see the falsehood of language.
Srikanth Reddy, from “Voyager”
"this silence provides us roots
and limbs. We live in it
because we cannot build another,
no other treehouse will be good
enough. Nor will we be,
cheered for a moment as silence
lets other things whistle, then
let down when we realize where
we are. There is nothing
we may hold onto after these years,
just dust and even quieter things,
things which do not need silence
because they’ve disappeared,
left nothing in their wake,
not breath, not ears.”
Rebecca Givens, from “Even Quieter”
"I’ve always known my true life would begin
and end in a garden like this, my will not free,
my breath not Word, everything: bloom—
but the bloom the wound of a pupil
overtaking the eye.”
Christopher Hennessy, from “Gethsemane”
"The trick is to fold the paper and the message enough times to make it disappear and then to swallow it down and keep it in the belly until the body either bursts into flames or elevates into the Sky and is rendered rectified recognized reconstituted reformed reshaped re-upped recounted recast re-carved re-cut in the shape of something normal again."
J.A. Tyler, from “[this town]”
"Say it sad and plain:
that this poem
is a void.
That this well is
as far as your voice
has ever carried.”
Marcus Wicker, from “To You”
"I could go on
this way until the end of the page, even though
what I have in mind isn’t the thing
itself, but the category of belief that sees the thing
as a shelter for what is beneath it.
There is no shelter. You cannot put a tarp over
a wave. You cannot put a tarp
over a war. You cannot put a tarp over the broken
oil well miles under the ocean.
There is no tarp for that raging figure in the mind
that sits in a corner and shreds receipts
and newspapers. There is no tarp for dread,
whose only recourse is language
so approximate it hardly means what it means”
Rick Barot, from “Tarp”
transgresses me to appear as you. a bundle of sumac
reaches into the indecisive melt. when we have to
split to speak and rip to hear. I just want to lift, so
I say rip me.
sight might seem then; regenerate
warming into what’s falling, the
fence then flakes. a poke at a
vacant other. until I remember to
look up. until I remember what to
Laura Woltag, from “Did Our Never Sound”
"[Humpback whales suspend themselves upside down and perpendicular to the direction of sea currents before they begin to sing.]
[Being personal and being intimate are significantly different qualities. Being personal risks the writer’s self-awareness, being intimate risks the Reader’s sense of self in relation to another.]
[If one considers our associative intuition of metaphors as a pre-linguistic event of consciousness, one might be tempted to understand language use as half-formed metaphors exchanged at the goodwill instant of their gesturing across.]
[The is of a metaphor is an apology to silence.]
[Like a metaphor, a gesture entertains the likelihood that it both is (moves toward being) and is not (remains unfulfilled in its desire to be) the object of its attention.]
[In much the way physicists resort to spatial metaphors to describe time and temporal metaphors to describe space, philosophers and poets alike rely on non-metaphorical language to explain the concept of metaphor.]”
David Seymour, from For Display Purposes Only
"What do you love the most?
Say the reddish work of death
as it strolls through the fields:
the peaks of the sky
between the reeds and the stream.
All our memorable mistakes
easing into us as a bandaged ewe,
after giving birth, eases
the bloated body of her lamb
into the marsh with her tongue-prints
on its face. Let it rest.
Let it become what it will.
Love leaves us dull with nothing else to say
and whatever is the most will never be enough.
Say nothing. Nothing.
Keep saying it.
It is right there in front of you.
It will sleep through the damp nights
and suckle its own tiny breast.
Joshua Poteat, “Meditation for Everything We Have Loved”
"Perhaps he was among us: at first, among all of us. He didn’t separate us, he maintained a certain emptiness that we didn’t want to fill up, it was something to respect, maybe to love. When someone stops speaking it is hard not to go looking for the missing thought, but even though his thought often called out to us, one couldn’t do such violence to him, he fell silent with such great innocence, such obvious lack of responsibility, he fell silent absolutely and entirely. That didn’t call for help, it didn’t cause any embarrassment, it gently killed time. He was among us and yet he had hidden preferences, unpredictable impulses that suddenly thrust him back a great distance, not only indifferent to those who were there, but causing us to be indifferent to ourselves and withdrawing us from the people closest to us. A storm that changed us into a desert, a silent storm. But who are we after that, how do we find ourselves with ourselves again, how do we love one who wasn’t loved in that terrible moment?
I think a reverie comes from him to us, one that agitates us, deceives us, opens us to the suspicion of a thought that won’t seem to let itself be thought. I often asked myself if he wasn’t communicating to us, without his knowledge and against our wishes, something of that thought. I listened to those very simple words, I listen to his silence, I learn about his weakness, I follow him softly everywhere he would like me to, but he has already killed curiosity, erased it, I don’t know who I am, I who question him, he leaves me more ignorant, dangerously overwhelmed with ignorance. Maybe we didn’t have the correct feelings for him, the feelings that would have allowed the approach of what he revealed to us. What feelings? What could be born of me, for him?
I only noticed by degrees that he turned me away from myself. He didn’t demand any attention from me, he demanded less than a thought. It was this less that was strongest. I owed him a limitless distraction, and even less, the opposite of expectation, the reverse of faith, which wasn’t doubt: ignorance and neglect. But this still wasn’t enough: this ignorance had to ignore even me and leave me to one side, gently, uncertainly, without any sense of exclusion or aversion. Then who was encountering him? Who was talking to him? Who wasn’t thinking of him? I didn’t know, I only felt that it was never I.”
Maurice Blanchot, from The Last Man, tr. Lydia Davis