Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cleaving silliman

Jan Steen, Rhetoricians at a Window (1662)

The Rhetoricians

“The recognition that the
very presence of the line
is predominant current
signifier of the Poetic will
cause some poets to discard
at least for a time, its use”
—Ron Silliman,
“Of Theory, To Practice

cleaving masters—like ezra pound
more than just—translating them
word for word—line for line
stanza for stanza—poem for poem
it’s more like—cleaving the sargasso
sinking down—into bermuda triangle
disappearing—into LangPo
jettisoning—jetsam & flotsam
all the way—downward

Cleaving vs. Cloaking

“prefer my cloak
unto the cloak of dust
‘Neath which last
year lies”
—Ezra Pound

thinking about—the Tree
how tree-time—doesn’t stop
keeps going—into the dark hours
how i prefer—cleaving to
cloaking—words themselves

—based on Ezra Pound’s “The Cloak”
Personae (1926)

The American tree

“the tree has
entered my hands”
—Ezra Pound

the tree enters—my hands
the sap rises—thru my arms
the tree grows—into my fingers
the tree bends—in the wind
the tree leans—roots go downward
the tree is me—my snarke fingers
inch their way—back down home
the tree—speaks to me

—based on Ezra Pound’s “A Girl”
Personae (1926)

The pact

“I make a pact with
you, Walt Whitman”
—Ezra Pound

i make a pact—with you
ezra pound—my fascist father
bollingen prize—badboy poet
pig-headed—pisa prick
st. elizabeth—prisoner of zenda
poet—of the new woode
you broke it—that whitman Line
now it’s—time for cleaving
time for—commerce
words—between us

—based on Ezra Pound’s “A Pact”
Personae (1926)

Schmoozing with Rhetoricians

“Let me be free
of the printers”
—Ezra Pound, “Come
My Cantilations”

will darkness—accept me
be pleased—these cleavages
timorous overtures—coffee-klatch kitsch?
schmoozing—in the morning
will I end up—a poet or printer
kvetching—amidst verisimilitudes
mating—with my right hand
making love—to my rough drafts
before posting it—in the blog forest
feeling it—the hidden recesses
the dark woode—the wordy darkness?

—based on Ezra Pound’s “Tenzone”
Personae (1926)

The edge

“You edge against this”
—Ezra Pound

double lines—so edgy
nervous—enslaved by convention
ennui—the bourgeoisie
tyranny—the unimaginative
writing against—the dullness
the edge—dreary dinginess
thickening—with middle age
smothering me—old tree rot
rotting—bondage beauty
edgy—defying myself

—based on Ezra Pound’s “Commission”
Personae (1926)

The Sargasso Sea

“yet this is you”
—Ezra Pound

mind-melding—with you
with you—my sargasso sea
your ideas, gossip—oddments
strange pieces—of lost knowledge
great minds—have sought you
bright ships—here and there
but I prefer—the usual way
one dull man—dumbing down
my so-so mind—thoughtless me
you’re patient—you watch me sit
hours go by—nothing happens
now I’ve hooked you—bingo goes the mirror
how strange you are—my mermaid muse
down there—the great nowhere
i’m your trophy—a dead Beowulf boy
pregnant with mandrake—floating upward
it’s something—trying to improve
how words fit into—the loom of our days
tarnished, gaudy—wonderful old work
idols, ambergris—rare ruby inlays
deep sea riches—your great store
subterranean sea-hoard—down there deepest deep
strange and sodden—suddenly mine
slowly i float—back up again
there’s nothing—my hands are empty
nothing’s mine—it’s all yours

—based on Ezra Pound’s “Portrait D’une Femme”
Personae (1926)

The word hoard

“an unlikely,
treasure hoard”
—Ezra Pound

the word hoard—it fails me
i’ve lost it—the journey’s jargon
the weirding way’s—three voices into one
ancient password—dire sea-surge tongue
i’m the—night watchman
moody ways—are my keel and anchor
tossed close to cliffs—weathered by storms
down by the dock—granite clammy bulkheads
gannets & mallards—quacking drunk fools
mead-drunk silly—dumb seagulls and me
blue moon man—once lorded by youth
sorrowful seafarer—tied fast to waves
here i am back home—stuck again in ennui
admonished—by my departed kingdom
cuckoo-clock sea—how could i have left you
given you up—irresistible Thane acres
oyster-pearled sea—leviathan muscles
the dragon-path—ship of the sea
for a lousy dock—a cabana some real estate
ghostly me—once sailor, sea captain
top foretopsman—gripped by the Ambiguities
all on loan—billy budd and me

the sea wanders free—its real estate isn’t me
flooding everything—blasting with storms
lost possessions—all earthly riches treasures
gold-hoarding kings—all sunk below the waves
richest landlords—locked in davy’s locker
the sea has no trouble—with word hoards
burying the bodies deep—writers both rich & poor
we are all dead sailors—all of us once free

—based on Ezra Pound’s “The Seafarer”
Personae (1926)

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