Consider This, Misreading Zagajewski
Consider this, Adam Zagajewski: the eye
knows if something was never three-dimensional – we read your poems
from the flat page and ‘a castle heaves itself into existence’,
wind cherries fall but leave no stain on our mouths, through the
tunnels of day light races, crushes the soft vowels of the moon’s
elocution, everything approaches, stares at the clock as if looking
for some kind of description in time, morning curls sleep in its
hand, curls like a playful kitten asleep, yesterday still moans
in the memory like a cloud being gently untied from thought, like
a merciful parting, a bond whispered to a scribe of sentences of
the heart which must be written in the blood of anger and loss –
and so we read your poems and suspensions once finite trace the
outline of infinity, liquid fragments where once it flowed and again
our bodies coat with the vernix that sheathes
the first moment, that moment before the scream, of speech so silent
that someone matters.
The Profile of the Dead
Most members of the public don’t have the ability to correctly place
on the ground what’s meant to be on paper.
I couldn’t even reassemble my own skeleton, not being able to follow
the special marks in order to get my life back inside the fence.
‘Everybody is capable of dying’ said the sign at the gate and of
the alleged dream of the sum of activities of plants and animals
in small print below, as if in place of warning a fine, ‘Be careful
– it’s not compulsory’. And the latch sticks because in not allowing
you to wake nature has its own purposes which have little to do
with the matters to be shown. Then why this painful
diffidence, this unjustified shame? Don’t you know you can
only expect praise for what is known? There is to be no lamenting
here, just more good work. And so, inhuman, but keeping the format,
I impose my delicate presence on the field through an unexpected
semantic high-jump which immediately gave the impression that I
was a believer in the liar’s paradox. Such a rare allocation of
the body took even the official record by surprise and I became
(ironically) known as a double of living (kind of like an unrecognized
member of staff in a German university). And though I now know there
is nothing after death thus this journey has no end, I am still
fiddling with another logic where nothing can constitute and equal
that end. Infinitely I am being redrawn – really, you wouldn’t believe
the popularity of the only possible alternative. Everything in the
world asks me a question. I am the answer.
Anti-Heart (Names of Torture)
for Elaine Scarry
The body in pain occupies a separate universe to the idea. It has
lines that have become lines. Waves that have
become waves. It truly has dimensions, dimensions like those
of a baby, like a child’s world.
The body in pain has beetles and oceans of the wind. It has fifteen
skeletons and a knuckle truck and bodies that do not belong to it.
Ash of shelves, ash of silence – the noisy ash of this body has
bone understanding, desires time, has gone
down into mystery.
Unwhispered, the body in pain sees the
inside of the scream, sees the circle and how it violates logic.
It knows the stars which do not glow in the dark. The body in pain
disappears from the throat.
Windings, turnings, bendings, curving
of a line or surface – new bodies are anticipated as the names of
torture are spoken. “[D]oubt… seems… only… a tiny fold in an almost invisible thread
of tissue in the heart…”
‘Reasons to be inconsolable
Alain de Botton
Jumping around with arms swinging, face-to-face
in the light carriage of Dr Proust’s advice
(‘If only I could value myself more! Alas! It is impossible’),
I wondered what could be got, with such health, from the end of
the world. Always, of course! It always is and may be. Knowing this,
and I mean truly knowing it – Hello Death and afterwards
I’m sure we’ve met because it tipped a bucket of cold water over
my head (baptising the poet!) – there’s no wariness about time and how to use it, but practically
everything still remains impossible. You would think I didn’t have
to worry, being a very quaint small drawing of a human figure, knees
up, in someone else’s book – why do I need exercise?!, but we all
have our troubles, our little bête noires.
For example, I may not have to write by inadequate lamplight but
even electricity hasn’t found me poring over the mistresspiece
to his master. O, in all the world! a life crumbling towards
inadequacy, via inadequacy. Reasons to be inconsolable abound –
fifty thousand dollars, the producer being my leg this afternoon
because they didn’t want to pay me, the face glimpsed in the street
indistinguishable through resemblance from the face of a dead love.
Last year: eighty-seven thousand dollars buried somewhere in a beach
of words, more people than ever with tattoos, complication exponential
for the living... For the future, I may leave these pages, born
into a true poverty where thinking follows its own true course for
that (can’t write about it because I don’t know) but now
I stretch in the present like a lazy cat belly-full on sun-dreams
where the ghosting shadows pass through my eyelids to a deeper brain
than action, paws epileptic in the crushed basil as I enter the
cave of nighttime TV. Shuffles past, a young man
just starting to be a vagrant, matted hair, still clear skin.
He looks surprised – not at us – and a little oblivious. Young girls
– if they could think: they want us – because we walk arm in
arm, have gotten here without losing love. And what is it I’m
remembering from all time, writer, fourteen years under your thin coverlet? Remember what? That
living is in it – the sad little bits that feel like nothing, not even grief.
The Tide in Him
Pull him straight, pull him straight. The needle
so slight in him. The tide in him has no thought for the
As a definition, it approaches God. Flesh-coloured
after flesh has been growing through four seasons in very rich soil.
Living and dying in the same place. Being patted
to sleep. Bubbles that stay alive is
a concept that mind drift through your mind. Put on your name-tag
if you don’t want to be a stranger! Earth’s on the up – turning
like dreams. You can do no better than put smiles in the mouths
of gods, complain to a fir tree that all
you have is trees.