Sunday, October 16, 2016

Norman Fischer, excerpts from On a Train at Night

Ho|ma|ge to the Infernal City, image by Daniel Y. Harris 

excerpts from On a Train at Night

How nothing in particular sways in the wind when tendrils whip
In each which way
As if inclement weather daunts them serially to a halting stalling just as the beam
Of my wanting more blunts me along on its blathering furor —
         Gotta swim against the grain in this creepy world
I cradle in my weary arms
With its lush water
Distracting meals
And bracing sorrows of the day
Herewith a grasping for syllables or any air at all which would be most terrible
According to the connections she made because she could -- she did -- minus the emoticons --
And wind again destructive --
Manzanita puffs fold alongside hills
Downtown residue of foamseeking -- shared the almond shape of long carrots in mud--
Placed side by side in virtue of materiality making meaning in their musical placement calming the scene
for the moment


Household word
Catching a mouse from under the credenza she wanders desert shores following clouds of debris
Further on into crouched disturbances — these dates not on any calendar — time blown as leaves                      at season's end
At the time of a single death
She follows light
She follows water
She follows wind
She follows earth
Marked by solemn words sung like cymbals— the poet refuses to name — refuses to sing hero              battles — paints blood on walls instead — which passes for advance in tattered times —
Herewith a housefly rubs its ears against the panes — nothing to write about
Really nothing 
To speak of
Details swallowed in world


Hole in  original world — disturbed — stutters — flashing in and out of being —
Smoke wafts up from fires below
Wordstones hurled from cliffs above
Split into pieces
Earth teeters
Bulked clouds with fuzzy fingers
Shooting out
Gray smudges of arrested rain

Sky spread jagged and wide
Like puzzle pieces on a table
Something about to occur in strain for its arousal
This never-occurring anything
Hollow potential
Halt between in and out up and down forward and back dark and light arousal and defeat
Music — categories shattered --


It wants plethoras of peace and silence
Sometimes to learn so as to forget  —

Nearly dimmer then later stupor sets in
Whenever I strike this sonorous bell

That lingers and is limber touching the runners as they course by
Carrying the bulges

Too hot for their frequencies
But you can’t not wonder for you need the food

How they make their rounds on their lilting perfect numbers
Is abstract on their hearths

That cannot concur in their cash only reconcile their books and plunder
Call out on high for help


In these eyes words spill over
Before thought there’s water
Unstable surging that eats at the edges
Quiet out beyond the breakers
In the definite crescent and in the craters
A casting up of weight in the swell
So that looking into them there is no contact
Outside the sheer warmth that this is there
Present in a larger vicinity

The collision is immanent
A force pressing down unannounced
Of memory back to a beginning before remembering
Which is carried along with effortless floating
That your hand touches
Brushing only the sounds of words like tinkling glass on beaches
No escape


In the haze
Before a yellow moon
Hung over tapestried water
Talking and tapped
By muttering birds
That engender small details
Of earthly life rhyming above me
The mind’s broken beauty mends
All that deigns to wonder or sing
The table the cup the spoon so generous
The book the bell the sandal the screen
Overflowing eyes their struggle to see
The sorrow of annunciation


I wandered in and was immediately given a name and a score
Now -- how to distance myself from the crowd--
Was it diet or hygiene? Wardrobe coiffure interior design?
That night I slipped away to watch baseball under the stars
The ball the cloud the arching glove
Or was that scars and love, abrasive unfolding of time against my skin
Without thinking propelled by the unseen adhesion
A penchant for improvement or perfection
The image of an alternative world -- imagination's horrid ideal --
Proved to be already exposed and over-determined
I had to learn a new language just to recover my socks
Which I left outdoors on the balcony railing of the last hotel
In the final city of the farewell tour

Many times I have wondered what was really in that trunk I’d kept ready all those years
Plundered mementoes I planned to take back with me on my eventual return
When the past as I had imagined it would finally be available in reds and blues
The mauve poems I purchasing in the middle of this dream of my flamboyant farewell tour
That occurred as I woke in another less rudimentary world
And the words will make it believable and true in their military arrangements
Stitched together with dental floss because that was all we had
Without any idea of who or why or where we really were
Or any actual idea at all


I don’t know nor can see
Buttered up and offended
Disappointments marry me to my decreases
Setbacks set me scurrying
When against my whacky eye is bent
Any tattered stickum screed
Disastrously attacked and attached to me by murky bended invisible threads
Seen through


In the pleading
Another voice speaks your obscure name
That floats on the swimming sea bobbing like cork or corpse

They yell or call their fever
They raise their arms pure sapphire 
In sky with its endless terraces
Or clouds as pieced together witnesses
Of your tingling nerve endings that paint them
Recreating suns inside your brain

Charisma is chemistry
Being whitehot for the world to pull its handle
And whole cities spring up plazas boulevards statues fountains
Beetle people scatter
Because a person can’t be flesh
A terror freezes fluid bone solid
And a curtain falls before the eyes
Shoots out rays of red dejection until little lights flicker on 
One by one along the delirious roadways
And an insulated wind blows through the pocked canyons
Mowing him back down under the mock everyday sky
Until it’s time to say their names  -- Count and recombine their letters --


Just that much urge toward filching — take what isn't yours as if it were  —
Take any sense that truth is spoken here — lethargical liturgical truth --
And the indignant ones mesmerized by shouting spill over freeways unfurl their banners
Down from overpasses
Being alive's an exaggeration, protest against contingency
An allergy or flea bite
Bacteria extol— DNA an arrangement of letters spiral death dance --
But a stone's set in its ways
You can't draw blood from it to test its mettle
Glowing in its aura — the moon I mean — above --
Shocked by its own light and shrouded in someone else's cloud


Juvenile bombast and highjinks
Stark summation beside hay ricks when she was young and sex was the primary metaphor for self --
-- Hold that thought --
Journeying forth into moist lattice network tugs at spires or spices languor called                                               Freedom determines political confusion
This false premise
Herein the splash that cleanses people once for all —
Sins wash out anyway in a redemptive present
In which past is contained
So forgiveness is impossible
And inevitable
Let it alone
Inasmuch as this proper language holds up in court
To drown out the other uproar
Of pictured world in crisis


Just lie down in a boat and sleep
It's artificial but in our language what isn't?
Peculiar magic of our idiom. Could be the first time that happened.
Any variety
Of the many varieties
Of endings
That produce beginnings
When after nothing something again appears
Curling shot and extruded desire amounting to no more than …..

Thinking through, repeating  — a new world to start with —
Down deep in cavern who could think her way into this newness
No way but going on being so long as there's voice to holler
Murmur I mean
Solitude necessary for any recognized unacknowledging shape — I slake my loneliness in it —
Which is never preservative.
                                                                        .P.   is   .J.
Or so they say at this late hour when we are about to anoint a new king
Same as the old one


Jeered and mooed and read the oracles
Fuzzy clouds over sea must mean something like tortoise shells entrails tea leaves
All pattern decodes significance which is —  what, after all  — anything?
The implications --
Preternatural twilight once we were happy — whose concept is that? Cows
            they say are happy so people can't be
Bees and beers and brisket — gristle — these lines indicate that—
How chew on words of the gone ones of course I do
Everything said in exactly these residue letters
Shells and seaweed jumbled by the shore
Invisible at night
Walking back and forth in this distracted manner — the melody sways back and forth —
Pock pock pock pock behind it


—Norman Fischer

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