Friday, September 23, 2016

Andrei Codrescu, Four Poems & Some Polemics

The Disappearance of Gabriel,
mixed-media collage by Daniel Y. Harris 

pre-call notice to a 108th street developer

During the night without notice or even much noise
the Congregation Gabriel Synagogue was gone from
across the street. The old-script gold letters on its frontispiece
gone, only their shadow still visible on the arch under my window.
Next day the brick arch was gone too and all the bricks next day.
A fence surrounded the steel-beam skeleton. A poster on the fence
announced the coming of something that looked suburban,
a cluster of apartments with a tiny park, followed by the company’s
name and number. I want the gold letters G, I, and A.
They stand for Gabriel who helped me move in, Ina who helped me
move back into my body in the new city, and A for my own name.
It was the old Gabriel Synagogue that persuaded me to live here,
it was a point of reference, I get easily lost, and a site for the hopeless
thought that one day I might go to an old schul and read the Torah.
I have a right to those letters, Mr. Developer. This poem is a warning.
Tomorrow I will call and it will be the prophet himself speaking.

august 4 2016 shark activity

I went to my Starbucks on Austin. Woe! A whole wall was gone
opening into a a brand-new Target store.
It happened overnight at the same time as Synagogue Gabriel
vanished. Some kind of tit-for-tat goes on in Queens.
This isn’t growth, it’s the sea of my haunt live suddenly with fins.

Mesmerism for M, rare flower

at its core intelligence
is what touch taught the body
through all the bodies touched
before it arrived here to learn
other bodies through its own
dense pod of touch-knowing
so dense that its force can use
words to make your own hands
be the other’s hands free
to touch your body to its core
but rare are flowers that consent
to such density of sound to bind
what knowingly surrenders
her own hands to another's mind

on frames & fragility & squares & ovals for Ina

I thought of frames because whatever their ubiquity
ineluctability and seeming inescapability
they don’t frame you or me    that is not their job
some things still escape them

the thought of being framed would have sent me fleeing
in horror over hills and into unmapped cities had I known
in advance of its goodwill toward all beloved creatures

and yet there you are
your eyes attentive and not quite in the frame
and something kind not sure there is a frame for
and also surprising laughter
maybe you snuck out of the frame at an unscheduled time

maybe an old fox like myself and a stubborn dreaming child
escaped their frames somehow and rolled away like eggs
shedding old shells while growing fragile new skins

is there an unframed elsewhere?

and then our rolling dance is interrupted
by a hospital and a deep cut

I forget all about frames and think
of the moment when you forget the pain
and open again your arms and legs in the oval
that has somehow replaced know-it-all frames
with a sieve pierced by rays of not-knowing
in circular motion around my there & your here


Letters for Enrique     

yes on the other hand
“letters can be blueprints for birds”
yes on the other hand
the handprint of plato is still on my face
he was not gentle his writing gave language
the trophy in every fight

the unspeakable can’t even come in the back door
he instructed his servants to take its medicines
with their eyes closed and place them under a bush
he could inspect later with his snake-stick

oh medicines under a bush like 50s spy microfilm!

and if butterflies are a blueprint for Sanskrit
that language too must imitate the sound of a bell
in a mind empty before its waking to forms

all letters then busy making birds and beings
in a hurry like bakers before the deadline for a wedding

hurry up bakers

only I know that there is a lot of flour in the heavens
so hurry is not necessary and neither is the wedding
there are more birds and butterflies than letters
and not all of them were named by fans of literature

an alphabet longer than Audubon is a certainty

without a script       on the other hand
even as the unborn and unnamed are slapping
the little Jesuits at their desks without a pause

rimbaud was on to something that was us after he
gave up language for a stewpot of snakes

—Andrei Codrescu