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Charles O. Hartman


Also, he made a molten sea of ten cubits from
brim to brim, round in compass . . . and a line
of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
                                     — 2 Chronicles 4:2


I walk a coast brilliant as dragon glass
          for water flinging splinters chaotic alongside
                    and in the distance long orders of island
                              spun for the occasion out of morning
                                        corporeal light

As mythical violence sets a bloodline running
          a cooler intention now
                    austerely furnishes the horizon broad O

Light examines me

Isometric leaning wind
          beatifies this mind
                    grown credulous as air

Vagrant entirely
          I borrow time

Giving in
          finesses giving up

Electing something devouring
          finesses giving up

Now this universe at large has lost an I

Seeing invents
          otherwise anywhere
                    is a same nonplace

Nonsense errant
          makes a bid to submerge it all

Tumult seiges each boulder

Assiduous its breakers
          maul each island

Buggerall stops still

Three quarters of an age
          I devoted to sloth and worry
                    nearabout dead

Whenever I do halfwise
          that dreadful I O U
                    closely held

No rockdove says I

No pelican

A cumbrance
          for voyagers
                    lined in a V

Being human makes traveling
          harder with some reason
                    if it compounds with becoming
                              pleasures worth
                                        just traveling for

The variable I
          rehearses values
                    that like to approach constant X

Character happens while selves attend other urgencies
          and the form that unseen X is
                    intuited from vividly drawn dreams
                              mind projects on the odd daytime seascape
                                        barely noticed produces
                                                  the I Steady Stand
                                                            or phantom I am


Meanwhile I walk miles graced
          with circling gulls
                    storks lofted
                                        of the very island

The very searocks exhale X

Most truth lies
          but in strict rhythm lies
                    accuracy in a way
                              now arbitrary
                                        now direct

Measure in action

So this metrician
          X says I am
                    squares the spheres
                              we hear
                                        every footfall

                    ---------------- 0 ----------------

Echoes return

Inland for a sight
          climb passages
                    reciting a history
                              each mountain bespeaks a piece of

Orogenies do

Narrative yearns
          to continue
                    as geography
                              is never done

Expansion a century a digit
          has charms even the wholly frantic
                    educated gradually to
                              might apprehend

Not simply

                    ---------------- 0 ----------------

          I say

Rocks may

Water says
          counting enchants it

Each figure trains waves to a new hypnotic ease I have
          copied painfully
                    while I confirmed
                              when I seize X
                                        X eludes

          hews the sea

          trouble at nothing

Yet taking scant thought
                              gnaws senseless a shoreline
                                        rawly new

Possessed of a brainpan
          facing X
                    I blinked
                                        grasping a mischance for it
                                                  facing X I forbore
                                                            mymisself and I

Known X
          I imagined
                    would lose vitality

Suppose that this heresy be now finally abandoned
          supposing dinner is frankly more startling after having
                    starved for years a hopeless abnegant quite tightly
                              woven in weblets of self dominion espousing
                                        a by no stretch universal law
                                                            I remember now

I a patchwork from wayonback
          I an epiphenom emergent
                    for the moment
                              compact for the moment am
                                        hard work

Suited labor charms
                    past due

Peripaty counts

As a day convolves
          this clockwise pace around the perimeter
                    turns on an edgy craving for mastery
                              I recognize


As a century convolves
          peramble counts

                    the travels

So rhythms thicken

Timed for walkabout by a skysign
          I measure myself by milestone for a roadway
                    sandal leather takes on the waywiser
                              with nearly nothing left unproven I discover
                                        this merely walking making living

          I say so

                    ---------------- 0 - 0 ----------------

Blood struts lordlier
          I do believe
                    a body given to taking
                              joy where bidden

Fortunes in delight pervade anyplace sense awakens
                    a guy with an octopus
                              turns seawall
                                        through thorough thwacking

          a rooster too dimwit for morning I suppose
                    blithely hollers at a blue heaven overhead
                              lust loud


I am an eary gathering
                    and loud too

A boat passes
          laden with wayfarers
                    steam sounding forth his initial O


Echoing pulsation of an echoing pulsation
          voices vitulate broadcast
                    on every timeworn frequency
                              to get their word in

A helpfully undefined limit
          namely I
                    f of X
                              am listening

So a quodlibet

          pushes back

The next cape I navigate
          a coast brilliant etcetera
                    a new manner of arranging reality
                              repeats that nothing
                                        masters a day

          prodigity rounds

          a fraction escapes

Mindful of X
          I set down whichever dimension
                    whichever magnitude
                              whichever direction suggests the vectors
                                        of veritably pilgrim progress

Most theolatry bullshits about X

Since doctrinal middens are a pitfall
          out of courtesy
                    X eludes

          traces out
                    a rambling
                                        territory round

It maps
          this value beginning with
                    three point one four
                              wooing expansion

Fabulous day

An ardent toil of
          prowl it is

Plenties of hours
          and for each word
                    twenty trancing steps

The heart is speech
          a perimeter
                    and I
                              a rational diameter
                                        I address X


                    ---------------- 0 - 0 ----------------

And I can compass stepping out
          sideways without being an untoward outaline
                    faring paths
                              findable between wants
                                        and has to

          and whenever I need to

Behind a hillock
          a further hillock arises
                              extending I feel
                                        endless and

Not right naturally
          interior is bound and thus

Just as Odyssean cursive trips trace some Aegean bestiary
          showing how a π might designate
                    areas easily as limiting curves for circular thinking
                              so the lines any venture overland between hills
                                        describes all meander along a
                                                  sleepwalk never seeming Ithacan
                                                            spelling a babbling drawl
                                                                      tending finally

After all
          if I signify
                    I do it before thinking

          choose a way

                    ---------------- 0 ----------------

A humdinger
          of another stairway
                    notated mutely
                              begins C D E
                                                  agile intervals

Logarithm of a scalar

A monotonic goatbell
          somewhere off

          scads of birds
                    entitle me


Beyond where this hillside climb declines
          giving way to gentler geodesic tangents
                    beyond where indulging the sloped
                              a craze
                                        has had setbacks
                                                  I plodding or lightly
                                                            gravitate toward
                                                                      desiring to fly


I delectate
          going to

And going too

A peculiar piece of highblown rustic rhetoric ricochets aimlessly about various
          heights the better to be heard overabove headwinds that a sun stiffens
                    hazarding a no less fruitless descent to a muddled echoing depth
                              to validate the most fuckwit theophany I ken
                                        a dance I dance
                                                  quite elegant with practice
                                                            quite regular
                                                                      to walk to talk
                                                                                          what I heard

          producing music
                    reabsorbs music

Fanfares no orchestra belts out
          and I a player
                    resonate around a network of earshot
                              focusing every nerve
                                                  spirally receptive


Listening minutely for
          instance I saunter
                    along this saddle
                              all yawning ears
                                        noting what melodizes the formulary
                                                  for X
                                                            economies of scale aside



                    ---------------- 0 ----------------

          is telling

A needle
          seeking X
                    I pay attention

                    ---------------- 0 ----------------

Villagers populate this rambling
                    in kind

I go fumbling
          among palatals and velars
                    a barbar

Old women darken
          the benches

          loudly abound


They radiate X

A sentence I construct from my halfassed lexic hoard earns gestures toward
          a rowantree shielded whitewash cool minute taverna
                    inside looking suitable for someone
                              more sore footweary even than foreseen
                                        to drink amply and appease clamoring stomach
                                                  happily with company if mutely
                                                            mouthing each forkful


Good heavens
          mercy how late things have gotten to


With speech hooked together
                    we build farewells

Ritual exchanges bind everybody
          I am persuaded
                    all via a few
                                        singing phrases

In timefast
          mouthworn formulas
                              I speak an I

With similar grace
                    am I spoken to

After speech
          guestgift beside

No shit

Seven apricots

The angelist
          a child

A messenger for which
          X I be sworn
                    who now reselect
                              my lone way

                    ---------------- 0 ----------------                                        

All these paths
          untimely decline
                    except this

It goes lilting into cloudless heaven
          like someone who is chosen for gallantry
                    a road I gleefully recognize
                              as company to esteem

With an oblate afternoon ascending so
          to optimal parabolic climax
                    slowing steadily
                              as now
                                        takes hold
                                                  playing gravitas
                                                            I follow its camber

                    ---------------- 0 ----------------

          and lost
                    I startle at a glance
                              what I in a hastiness perceived as wild
                                        paths resemble alleys
                                                  and I climb


To evacuate coasts
          a ratsnest of murderous pirates
                    they built these steep streets

Eleven hundred year anamnesis
          sheathes the impacted walls

Round town helically from plain upthrust
          revolved solid
                    churches strewn
                              countless as houses elsewhere
                                                  every annual saintsday

          up springs
                    as S

                    crowded aloft

Abandoned now

As centuries press forth
          out of X
                    X builds again
                              the town
                                                  realities resorted equally to

To decades quiet lanes
          peoplings retend

Or not
          either bond

Either mortar holds fast
          tenacious guarantee
                    a T buttjoint coupling normally
                              I likewise fit
                                        just another transient
                                                  knowing whither bound and
                                                            where finger plucks the thread
                                                                      stretched lifelong

However long or lopped short
          ever it loves to vibrate urgently
                    tensed to pitch
                              draws a notation
                                        a likeness
                                                  a ghostly shape visible like
                                                            hollow village
                                                                      in emptiest readiness

          revives silence
                    resting lightly
                              on hearths
                                        perfected for sleeping

                    ---------------- 0 - 0 ----------------

Whatever X builds
          time empties


                    ---------------- 0 ----------------

I reckon I keep going
          on some plenitude I construct
                    as a present
                              and as a habitat
                                        as a daft diagram
                                                  pointed to one south

I find I have lost a carefully ordered
          and quite nicely balanced daily mind recently
                    I expect I was giving X a nasty asspain
                              for plans no worse given up I see
                                        for mere delight
                                                  which finally gets
                                                            a complete free pseudopod over things
                                                                      excepted only the farthest shore
                                                                                as the end of the itinerary

Delight now awakening like a hard sun
          all the body dread made antlike
                    recalls Aeacus
                              by Zeus
                                        a raised myrmidon cohort
                                                  to yield a manifold companion outright
                                                            and later render grandsons
                                                                      like Achilles
                                                                                worth being
                                                                                          roused by

Feelingly surprised as a butterfly to be an I
                    body is tickled
                              in every sense

As every inch of nerve
          itches rigorous
                    whatever circuit sorely charged
                              I inhabit

Very temporary
          this engine

I wonder where
                    wild horses wander nowadays

This planetary peepshow
          arranges itself
                    to mystify me
                              and to provide
                                                  a through composed

Steadily since morning creation puts out
          radiance for radiance
                    as someone willingly driven without
                              resentful scruple should expect
                                        whenever X gets mixed into I

                    ---------------- 0 ----------------

Afternoon going for climbing
          climbing the central eminence
                    ascent for assent


Stride shortens

                    ---------------- 0 ----------------

          what is up
                    ahead I go
                              bound to

Every I
          I imagine
                    and construct
                              in projected sections
                                                            completes itself

Becoming what I do
          becoming what
                              becoming harder to locate
                                        justifies this lanky rhumba

Step by step
                    instructs broken trail
                              in mounting

Up it
          is X

Nobody except X
          a dwelling
                    spoken for

Myself looking down this
          no kidding
                    thousand cubits of it

And certainly a knowledge that redefines what knows

Once offered
          I is the present I was
                    forever promised
                              island centering summit

Whereupon these loaned and lifted eyes con leagues
          I enumerate a horizon
                    an infinite perfect line broken without visible damage
                              upon random known islands
                                        named islands and recounted islets of this
                                                  I see
                                                            stranger homeworld

Studious toward every footnote
          jot or tittle
                    rapt sight ingathers
                              geography which reflects
                                        a day

All beckons


                    ---------------- 0 ----------------

          unwinding talk
                              falls overall
                                        easily down

Various ordinary graphemes
          enter a no longer terribly hard formal contract
                    and forthwith unawares
                              the light of naked gratitude
                                        comes dancing

Wavelight reflects
          an order
                              as no others do

Order is an urge

History derides an ending
          nothing a landscape does insists remotely
                    on ending
                              puzzling what
                                        delights in ending

A good measure
                    revolving clockwise


An ageold ache

A sun arises and intrigues some mind
          and finally goes under water


Number measures it

The most satisfied estate of words to find
          takes a pattern from somewhere
                    and assembles windfalls inside
                              since a body has a mind
                                        to indemnify likewise

          a beginning

Urchin grips
                    to rocks

Diligence can decline
          to be a wholly worthless burden
                    with barely a shrug
                              a small miracle

          mirabile dictu
                    fulfills the peculiar
                              wistful name

Where attention returns
          mirabile frigging dictu
                    generally there amazement equally rewakes
                              as listening
                                                  takes over faculties
                                                            switched otherwise

A bellow a roaring laugh and posthaste an ecstatic wave speaks lethally
          a ten syllable of itself
                    ordained before sunlight yet hitherto always anywhere
                              unheardof with no prudent prelude
                                        with a total noisy impudence affirming
                                                  a wondrous crass grand certainty
                                                            as large as life likes
                                                                      shadowing forth
                                                                                how hereafter every
                                                                                          solitaire will
                                                                                                    say I

This darkening deposited sealand
          as light as time leaves

Twilight runs under porcelain sealight
          filling in hollows and hiding hill feet
                    before spreading along sealanes
                              like invading pirate sails
                                        the nightmen
                                                  and taking finally the summit
                                                            so as to finish up neatly

Panegyric amplifies
          a so long


Cries O
          to know
                    how anything vanishes
                              into the wolflight

Then cries O to know
          when a day begins
                    about what precisely
                              anybody should be already

Looking backwards
          looking forward
                    a lucky number
                                        a full and final reckoning
                                                  seriously teasing


“Tambourine,” composed between February 19 and May 30, 1999, participates in the tradition of “pi mnemonics”” the length of each successive word is determined by the decimal digits of pi (3.1415...; therefore, “Now I walk the coast...”). A zero dictates the end of a sentence/stanza; multiple zeroes dictate section divisions and are indicated within the line dividing sections. Punctuation is excluded. Line-breaks are free, but each one entails an additional indent from the left margin. The title is taken from Patrick Leigh Fermor, Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece (1966 [rpt. Penguin 1983], p.230):

The Dodecanese is a sea-song by twelve sponge-fishers, Antikythera a mermaid forsaken; Skopelos, a lobster’s and Poros, a mock-turtle’s song, Aegina a tambourine.

New American Writing # 19 and Jacket 13   Contents page
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