Thursday, August 06, 2009

Rehearsal in Black

Rehearsal in Black, the book, was published by Salt Publications, Cambridge, in 2001. Several poems in were in traditional forms, like the title poem's terza rima. The cover art is a detail of Joe Brainard's Still Life, c. 1967. Goache on paper. Used by permission of the Estate of Joe Brainard.

Rehearsal in Black

The science of the irrational,
poetry knows what time is feeling
in the language we speak. Casual

as a crow above the pealing
tower, it circles our point of view
with applied indifference. The ceiling

is the limit only in the room;
love is torn between two sheets;
animals eat each other. Truth

is another order, beyond the heat
of sense. The memory of language
is a blind cold wall, a sweet

old man carrying a doll, pages
of silence framed by the chase.
What is love's name in an age

of skin? Everything you face
is just as it happened, minus all
the details. You write a line a day,

whether bad or good, then fall
into a stupor. A line of black cars
arrives at the horizon. In the fall,

you've noticed, the fattest stars
get even fatter. Maybe it's the air,
sodden with nostalgia. We are

what we are, a kind of rare
poison steeped in a kiss. Roots,
reeds, fish, the broken river--

everything is perfectly suited
for a local drowning. Here's a shot
of the water surface, with its mute

tensions and the struggle not
to fold. The world, dispersing,
turns. Here's the face of a god

no one remembers, in the church
of words. The American laugh,
said Jung, is urgent as a thirst.

It bowls you over with its raffish
humor and grabs you by the balls.
You can see the diver's glove, half-

filled with blood, in the halls
of that museum, where nothing
finally matters but stands as tall

as it can. Life is always touching
the edges of a net. Light enters water,
and that is called perspective. Such ends

are met when language and space, neither
quite sufficient, negotiate a realm.
It's cold inside, children have no fathers,

and mothers are desperate to tell
of love. It's a landfill country, strewn
with cast-off things, where stone bells

ring and drowned boats rise. The truth
is confused but strikes for the prize:
the stone floor of the sea, red tooth

of existence, and what the eyes deny.
You descend the stairs to hell, walk
its plazas and parks, and manage to find

a date for the evening. She talks
of her desires, but this is not desire;
it's the tender mercy of a leaf's awkward

falling. At what firm margin, the fires
in the mirror or in your eyes, is love
to be found? Does the sea aspire

to be just water? In the weave of
your intentions, the air plays the air.
Nothing is nothing. In a coven

of mechanics, in the scariest
Hollywood mansion, love is the prize
and a touch of the fever. Rare

as existence, it has seen the mind
change the most desolate landscapes
into quiet rooms. It always finds

the world in absence, doors taped
shut. This is like the movies, a black
room filled with murmurs. As the drapes

are pulled, you see from the back
life's enormous figures falling in
and out of focus, a final slackness

of being we later enjoy enduring.
The story is stained with its own
rehearsal. A handsome bed is burning.

Serious and alluring, a long dial tone
passes for conversation. No one's
there but you, talking into the phone

like a younger father to an older son.

Labels: , ,


At 9:36 PM, Blogger Lauren Perez Hoogkamer said...

this is really interesting. I'm going to keep it mind as a possible writing prompt. Also, you can check this out for more poetry


Post a Comment

<< Home