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Pierre Joris

Eight poems


tzim tzum
thru the head

air hole
book floats


that something

still & a

9/ 11/ 01

to be written
when the
time comes:

this moment,
this second
cuts in be-

tween in two.
It will be the —
where to breathe

the or a o-
pen pore
riots of air

that second
always second
rift in time

marks time
for breath, gash
curled high in air.

Albany, 7:20 a.m.


caretaker dreams
the acculturated mire

lice veins
tesselate the

reams defibrillate
what you think
behind time.

The books’ null-events
fib your

A snug song repeats
throatless, skinless

the teeth.


miscellany of these years
shared assemblages
that dissemble & amble
what connects in
the terror of any given
life? From or through
sleep, this den of otherness
you wake into boyhood,
the hooded stranger
of adult-heit,
busied with petty chafings
declarations, declamations,
steamed & salted
the cracked lips bite.
Sundays, other days,
head into the blue yonder
the colder depths.
A boy with branches twice
his size, held up
antlers, a gift
for you,
his small carefree
praise song.
The little we know
pushed forward by
nib & ink, pebbles heaped
against the abyss
of the unknown,
our only
Only the smallest
meanings warm us,
refracting through
the house of mirrors,
pinging off wall
after wall, mounting
the virtual volume
we call and recall
the real.

Three Berber Songs

for Nicole

1. The Large Spider

woven net
turns &
the central principle

life is expansion
the word’s horizon
that creates it.

Perpetual becoming
runs from
the fictive center

o spiral
breathe in
a well-being
on the way.

2. The Small Spider

In the mâwqif of writing
become spider
ray-ing form
penciled threads
secreted, lines
of flight:
tissage égale
spit our & swallow
your words
weave the world

3. The Cockchafer

Four wings
beat down
on the four
corners of the world
beat take-off
a line of flight
double arrow
polar axis
boreal light
neither Occident
nor orient
exile is beneath
is everywhere
under the light

(translated from the French by the author)


gross ahoe side, grosser fry and hem;
grow sarde gun, gross shy den;
grow so rich to her, gross abuttal;
grow see huns there, gross a knee and tell;
gross a fella, grows a sauna;
gross gauche son, grrr, obscene ;
gross a file, gross echo dove;
grow senate zen, gross sell each her;
grow her reins, gross weapons;
grow six feathers, grosso zapping;
gross geste, grouse corner;
grow sir Haven, grow a stress pen;
grow sephardic, grow a vest pen;
gross wineburg, gross a tripe in;
great vibes, great how beens;
gross ka gel, gross key gel;
gross bow rein, grow effete;
great young fern, great crank case;
great easels, great kwanzas;
grow an ache, great goo patch;
gross the frau in, grow the geek latch;
gross of clappers, grow and trundle;
gross of west pens, grow a hummed “l”;
grow a line wand, grow a lie bleach;
gross a back track, grow the taichi.

Pierre Joris photo

Pierre Joris

Poet, translator & essayist Pierre Joris left Luxembourg at age 19 & has since lived in the U.S., Great Britain, North Africa, and France. Rain Taxi praised his 2001 collection, Poasis: Selected Poems 1986–1999, for “its physical, philosophical delight in words and their reverberations.” Since then he has published two chapbooks of poetry: Permanent Diaspora (Duration Press) and most recently The Rothenberg Variations (Wild Honey Press, Ireland).

In 2003 Wesleyan U.P. brought out his collection of essays A Nomad Poetics. Recent translations include 4x1: Work by Tristan Tzara, Rainer Maria Rilke, Jean-Pierre Duprey & Habib Tengour and Abdelwahab Meddeb’s The Malady of Islam.With Jerome Rothenberg he edited the award-winning anthologies Poems for the Millennium and, just out from Exact Change, Pablo Picasso, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz & Other Poems. In late 2004 Green Integer will reissue three volumes of his translations of Paul Celan: Breathturn, Threadsuns and Lightduress and University of California Press will bring out his Paul Celan: Selections.

Pierre Joris often performs his work in collaboration with vocalist & visual artist Nicole Peyrafitte, most recently touring their multimedia show SumericaBachbones throughout Europe & the US. He teaches poetry and poetics at University in Albany, NY where he lives with Nicole Peyrafitte & their son Miles. During fall 2003 he was Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. Visit Pierre Joris’s website at .

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