torsion poems [1970-]

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Homage to What I Hear Is So

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(May 9, 1970, as they march on Washington)~~~——

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[for Jim Harrison]~

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the fiery acceleration of history toward collapse into
apocalypse
. So we hear.
We want to start all over.
My fiery acceleration in history straining to collapse into
collapsing.
I’m starting all over again, I say
every time, and they say there’s only this
once, the only
chance, you’ve got to take it
away from them, all of it, or all you can
do is keep
moving, keep on moving, and don’t let any of them keep
any, the smell in the air, this publically nasal languishing bids you
call it what you like but keep
away, don’t come
in this air, you couldn’t
make it if you tried or with this
being so strained it
won’t come all the way
off, or cut thru this, even with fiery
overstepping, lap winding,
streaking, so move it along here, work
it up, to a pitch so far unachieved, the stink is central, it’s the last
thing that’s really part of her, and that too endangered species, you
can make it, if you try, hardhead—harder
than this, think inside, or think it right
into the smell, now press, noticing it now
presses within the ventricle, it
budges, now slides, so quickens, open the vent but prepare
for certain smelling, perhaps she is still coming, perusal
calls it probable, open, so to speak,
to any and all possibilities, even
odds on it, that’s the way it is now, history
going the way it’s going, and at this rate
we’ll all be pressing unexpected canals
of influence, just on the chance,
you know, an outside chance
she might also be listening or
at least dreaming, thinking within that system
of communicating cavities
cerebrally continuous
with the central canal
of the spinal cord, derived
from the medulary canal of the embryo, lined, containing
a serous fluid, ventriloguistic,
you know how it is sometimes, I myself
recall Charlie, I do recall that
McCarthy, the dummy was central
to our lives then, the early
fifties—mind you
I don’t remember much but I do
that, pretending to talk, the pressure
on the cord and the jaws clenched,
the ventral pressure is especially acute
in my memory, as now, “a lap full
of seed  _And this is a fine
country,” only the trees
are perhaps barer than before, but on the other hand
my memory is not good, nor my sense
of history, except that it is so moving, this time, to turn over
in one’s mind, the four, the seven, the eight, etc. day by day
the new figures hard on the tails of the foregoing
only to pass on next into the
quick, the irretrievable
numerous, huddling, continuously light‑pricking
on usual screens, the great chain finally mounting on its own
back, seeking its shape in the spine bending
forward, leaning inside itself, half female
the contingent that is waiting in the middle, still longing
for extensions, still in procession, reaching the court
at its opening, stone walls with broken windows, looked out of
and seen into, continuously worn
clear thru, still mythic in the senses
relating to precoital jabbing at the cloth and eventual
disclosure at the spot of greatest wearing, as if to follow close behind
the longest tongue in Provence, the very man, the Arnaut captured within
the selfsame song, aching most where music most is lost
to us, as lays and chansons, scrutably absent, one part chirping
and the rest of it possibly lies in the sounding half‑heard,
latin fant precs
quecs ab
so par, sound like the daily paper, bare pictures, viz., pricks faint in
tongues, crack up in pairs, otherwise pig latin pants to crack noggins of hair,
if Arnaut is eavesdropping, the overflow is forming, the poet
performs his own way, as any man, to show himself
to himself, a better man than you are, he says in notes
to the self, half senses the truth, the wag there, the drip,
half sensible in the presentation, the other cries, “Can I
sow my seed Without tearing
up Some stinking
weed,” such Leaves
of it, or coming out of it again,
being lapped up now, “Love free
love cannot be
bound To any tree that
grows on ground O how sick & weary
I,” back into collapsing, “should I”
remembering more than I thought this time “be
bound to thee” within that fossa
—from which we have been standing, or stemming, so long now—
sometimes named pouch
lying on either side
of the larynx between the false vocal
cords above
and the true below,
ventriculus, the beating, constant beatings
within, tells us, keeping the line elapsing, please,
ventriculogrammic, Charlie writ, at long last, “O lapwing
thou fliest around the heath Nor seest
the net that is
spread beneath,” so called for your wrapped leap
thru midair, blackbreasted plotting Africa in shrill
wailing cries, will you keep, or hold up, now, I mean you, nearest me, are you
able to take your own song on the one hand, bare and moving,
and on the other the singing whales
mating, their serum of sound
squealing ventripotence, all canals
squeezing all at once, wholly
called up, adventuring, the primal sails set
in the cords again, for us
mere piercing, a coming that coils longer or
deeper than we knew, or so it
stands every chance
of being, half‑urging us
on, collapsing
us so

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(1970, published in Open Poetry: Four Anthologies of Expanded Poems,
ed. G. Quasha & Ronald Gross (Simon & Schuster: New York, 1973)

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The Weight of the Matter or Where It Is Pulling

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[for John Magner]

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I’m sorry, he said, or
said he said, said so to you, meaning thought
though he did not think so, or not only, I’m sorry
to have to go about this ass­-
backwards, but knowing the gravity of the matter
at hand, the lay of the land, helps to switch
around, or turn back
over, facing out or up or at
you, straight on, eye to eye
as if saying Youngblood, guts
is what we need more of, saying it like
it is, at that angle of incidence
to get there is so to speak
evidence of directness that has torn thru
demonstrating, as if destroying, itself, and I’m
sorry twists the matter further, making
the usual
metaphor, as if saying saying it like
it is is standing beyond the actual lay
of the land, binding self
and other and shaking
over it, agreeing in the recognitions
without crossing over ourselves,
taking so to speak the first available link (I
almost said drink) as
—and let it be noted here as longing
to leap, how its length
is being remembered and yet nearly time-
­less, still moving now, up
and half‑out not like but
with dolphin‑kind, as he comes between us
and nothing, for such like may be
words where
the ocean is closing
around
leaping itself­—
the real is itself as it is believed,
even assbackwards, where
the fault is running
clear thru, and where is
the quake if not here in the middle
of the matter
being said
as if being heard other-
­wise or meaning to be half read
in reverse
of the causes,
half in remembrance
of things past
helping
or meaning
or even attempting to say
more directly than they have been
lost to us, as if we can say
to us
and mean it, and if speaking thus
together at least one of us is listening
in and to and for the other, in the event
one might be lost in speaking
out or unable to hold his words
like his liquor he lets them stagger
him, failing to correct
the fault or half­-
wallowing in it
where it is most severely
pulling

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End of May or beginning of June or both 1970

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(published in Open Poetry: Four Anthologies of Expanded Poems,
ed. G. Quasha & Ronald Gross (Simon & Schuster: New York, 1973)

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