Sunday, September 23, 2012

Michael Palmer

Notes for Echo Lake 3

Words that come in smoke and go.

Some things he kept, some he kept and lost. He loved the French poets
fell through the partly open door.

And I as it is, I as the one but less than one in it. I was the blue against
red and a voice that emptied, and I is that one with broken back.

While April is ours and dark, as something always stands for
what is: dying elm, headless man, winter--
                                                               salamander, chrysalis,
        grammar and silence.

Or grammar against silence. Years later they found themselves talking
in a crowd. Her white cat had been killed in the woods behind her
house. It had been a good possibly even a terrible winter. Ice had coated
the limbs of the hawthorn and lilac, lovely but dangerous. Travel plans
had been made then of necessity abandoned. At different times entire
weeks had seemed to disappear. She wondered what initially they had
agreed not to discuss.

Some things he kept while some he kept apart.

As Robert's call on Tuesday asking whether I knew that Zukofsky had
died a couple of days before. The call came as I was reading a copy of
Larry Rivers' talk at Frank O'Hara's funeral (July, 1966), "He was a
quarter larger than usual. Every few inches there was some sewing
composed of dark thread. Some stitching was straight and three
or four inches long, others were longer and semi-circular . . ."

As Robert's call on Tuesday a quarter larger than usual asking whether I
knew whether I knew. Blue thread every few inches, straight and semi-
circular, and sand and wet snow. Blue snow a couple of days before.
Whether I know whatever I know.

The letters of the words of our legs and arms. What he had seen or
thought he'd seen within the eye, voices overheard rising and falling.
And if each conversation has no end, then composition is a placing
beside or with and is endless, broken threads of cloud driven from the
west by afternoon wind.

The letters of the words of our legs and arms. In the garden he dreamt
he saw four bearded men and listened to them discussing metaphor.
They are standing at the points of the compass. They are standing at the
points of the compass and saying nothing. They are sitting in the shade
of a flowering tree. She is holding the child's body out toward the
camera. She is standing before the mirror and asking. She is offering
and asking. He-she is asking me a question I can't quite hear. Evenings
they would walk along the shore of the lake.

Letters of the world. Bright orange poppy next to white rose next to
blue spike of larkspur and so on. Artichoke crowding garlic and sage.
Hyssop, marjoram, orange mint, winter and summer savory, oregano,
trailing rosemary, fuchsia, Dutch iris, day lily, lamb's tongue, lamb's
ears, blackberry, feverfew, lemon verbena, sorrel, costmary, never reads
it as it is, "poet living tomb of his/games."

Eyes eyeing what self never there, as things in metaphor cross, are
thrown across, a path he calls the path of names. In the
film La Jetée she is thrown against time and is marking time:

   sun burns thru the roars
   dear eyes, all eyes, pageant
   bay inlet, garden casuarina, spittle-spawn
   (not laurel) nameless we name
   it, and sorrows dissolve--human

In silence he would mark time listening for whispered words. I began
this in spring, head ready to burst, flowers, reddening sky, moon with a
lobster, New York, Boston, return, thin coating of ice, moon while
dogs bark, moon dogs bark at, now it's late fall.

And now he told me it's time to talk.

Words would come in smoke and go, inventing the letters of the
voyage, would walk through melting snow to the corner store for
cigarettes, oranges and a newspaper, returning by a different route past
red brick townhouses built at the end of the Civil War. Or was the
question in the letters themselves, in how by chance the words were

In the poem he learns to turn and turn, and prose seems always 
a sentence long.

--Michael Palmer


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