asking them, in turn, to respond to the work I’ve written,
either by writing “through” my poetry as a whole, through a single
poem or the one I’ve just sent them, or by any other method they might
desire to apply.
In writing “through,” I have taken small phrases and words from your
poems, combining them with personal associations. I am not responding
directly to the writing, but allowing your words to create possibilities
that move the text forward.
stupefying occupation of blowing kisses to the balcony. On the way
to L.A. I met a surrogate for you in the bar who said: you’re now free
to stroll into focus if you put your good foot forward and follow
the brick hick up the road. He was kind of chunky but not very “cute.”
French poet Henri Deluy took my very method itself, a cut-up narrative, as his central theme. In my poem, “In Cairo,” the second paragraph read:
It was not a lie exactly. It was not a truth. A little knife, with a horn
handle. And blue magpies to break the sequence of what went unsaid,
like writing not to write. You went off for a while to seek an anecdote.
I went over to the tree of knowledge to count its fruit. Each integer
shaped the sequence of the others, so that two for example became a
couple of fours, the fours a square door. I entered the room. There was
nothing else to be said.
Deluy’s work, titled “A (Defective) Story” (a kind of “defective-detective story) appeared to appropriate my use of the image of the knife to suggest a “cut into language,” or, in short, a story with numerous missing elements: a road overgrown with grass, soap, fabrics finely woven, dogs, bones that lie, burning trash, etc. “What is lacking. / What is lacking in verbs, / Could be lacking /More broadly / In he who cuts into language.”
If you do,
They will too.
Some say there is a mere implication, but I would argue that to
set out on any voyage is an explanation to the widened yawn. Heed
this, the traveler says, in his split or origins from meaning. The
returnee is simply a disturbed sound at the end of its trail, a hesitation
just before the adjust. Going away is not coming back.
What comes between, is ghostlier still. Only by surrounding it can
it be captured; and it is still not completely here in these virtual
together. A question came between and between is not usually
what comes in the way. A question asked words to present them-
selves. And the lost still warms the horizons in “Lost Horizons.”
This is the wind: without a port, a continuously undefined plane
in the form of a skip…routing the shad and salt deposits into the
Outside the skin is what is left of hands.
Rain spattered the white linen
Martha Ronk questioned my use of the expression “No mind, no mind!” in “The Film Breaks into Dialogue”:
The world pierces the chatter of the birds—or is it what
a German taxi driver once reported to me was an
Erdbeben. You fly! the cat sits up alert—even when it is
only a window being shut to the morning sky.
Each gesture to evidence leaves something out
The self I was formerly, also a shadow.
John Ashbery could not find the time to write a poem in response, but wrote that my poem, “The Decibels,” “seems to me to be a poem that I haven’t written yet and would like to write, rather than a poem in imitation of my style (whatever that is). I still hope to write this poem.”
Since there’s no beryl, no myrhh, no wise man from the east,
angels out to consume the dream. Now she waits in utter faith
I had a dream instead
that love had one glittering glove
this is subjectivity plus objectivity
in the religion named for a metal
or even a good mean
of red lentil soup with asparagus & celery root
garlic & onion amen
meaning time is surfacing a second time
alive and spiraling
like an emotion at the heart of language
of course a possibility remains: to translate
now while in Key West under a palm tree
I can remember sentences en franςais
the smell of fresh coffee
at a time I believe I was about to fall
in love which explains why
my appetite for curves grew wild
while “a word caught at the edge of my mouth”
I would for the first time wonder
about the word cliff
how to include the possibility of its meaning
in one’s life
The poets who responded and were included in Between were Barbara Guest, Clark Coolidge, Diane Ward, Lyn Hejinian, Carl Rakosi, Guy Bennett, John Taggart, Dennis Phillips, Leslie Scalapino, Arkadii Dragomoschenko, Robert Creeley, Nick Piombino, Régis Bonvicino, Ray DiPalma, Norma Cole, Bruce Andrews, Paul Vangelisti, Cole Swensen, Joe Ross, Rae Armantrout, Charles Bernstein, John Ashbery, Ed Roberson, Robert Kelly, Martin Nakell, Saúl Yurkevich, Andrée Chedid, Paal-Helge Haugen, Charles North, Rosmarie Waldrop, Miles Champion, Henri Deluy, Marjorie Welish, Fanny Howe, Luigi Ballerini, Martha Ronk, Jerome Rothenberg, Jean Frémon, Will Alexander, Tom Raworth, Bernadette Mayer, Tan Lin, Cees Nooteboom, and Nicole Brossard. I wrote Los Angeles poet Bob Crosson on December 8, 2001, and the next day he was found dead in his small apartment; his response, accordingly, was noted as “Silence. His death.” The last poem in the book was written to my companion, Howard Fox; I wrote his response from a passage in one of his art catalogues.