Distribution Automatique

Sunday, September 12

Sacred, Secret Haste

From word to word
A step to define
A moment. A sequence
Drawn from the life.
Yet between them, what
Thoughts, what gaps
From picture to
Habitation. Tilted
Towards remembrance,
What is still is real.
All the rest, beginnings,
Furtive grimaces, scratched
Surfaces from whispered
Conversations, an utterance
That encircled a night.
When, like a joke, sprinkles
Of images appear in one place
After another, unbidden,
Ungracious, unkempt. And
Breathing, full and radiant,
Painted simultaneously with their
Inception, fingers mount
Meanings against the sound of
Quick phrases, presences announce
Vanished emphases, particular
Nuances survive briefly before
Succumbing to a new flow of
Different days. Suspended, immaculate
A generation of reflected yearnings
Drops out of sight, replaced by
Long philosophical asides, yet
These too had a way of just reminding
One of an experience, and there again
Is life, frowning and gaping, sullen,
Unmoved, muscular, buoyant. But
Prefaces amount to pronouncements,
Noon sports new habitudes, and
A choral *allegro* echoes sweetly and
Quietly, now in the Nineteenth Century.
Poems? They must be plucked
Out of the in-between silences,
Huddled inside the inhalation
Before yet another anticipated
Listening. If it hadn't happened
Just the way it did
It wouldn't have happened
At all. Think of the looming
Times, the shadows of expectation
Leaning from their lonely cells
In dreams. Spoken from in there,
Something else, could yet be
Understood from what was left
Unsaid. O, like a stutter, like
A surprised exclamation, an
Involuntary gasp. Right
Up to it then, and not
Turn away. An utterly coherent
But vast and unconquerable beating,
Like a hand against a wall,
A foot against a bench, the
Insides establishing the rhythm
And the sound, uncomprehensible,
And the singing, in unison.

notebook: 8/6/86
Previously pubished in
*Avec*, edited by
Cydney Chadwick
"Secular Jewish Culture / Radical Poetic Practice"
Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2004 -- 7pm; $10 admission
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street, Manhattan
a public forum with Paul Auster, Charles Bernstein (chair), Kathryn Hellerstein,
Stephen Paul Miller, Marjorie Perloff, Jerome Rothenberg
Tickets available from Ticketweb {click here} or the Box office: 917-606-8200. More informationCenter for Jewish History {click here}
What are the innovations and inventions of American Jewish poets, over the past century? Can we say that there is distinctly Jewish component to radical modernist and contemporary poetry? What is the relation of Jewish modernist and contemporary poets to the historical avant-garde and to contemporary innovative poetry? How does Jewish cultural life and ethnic and religious forms and traditions manifest themselves in the forms, styles, and approaches to radical American poetry? What role does a distinctly secular approach to Jewishness by poets and other Jewish artists mean for "radical Jewish culture"?