Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Draft 73: Vertigo
Prologue: Even Tie
Viva, fidgeting roses!
Do men interrupt them
vexing blank calyxes to prompt them?
Vote volta-face for diagnosis.
“Already with thee” vs.
alterity of thee—it’s heady.
Are you Ready; are you composed?
Can you go a third vertiginous road?
Light comes thru the letter.
That’s what one awaits.
An alphabetic knock “oe vert”
at the folded gates.
Sirenic joy! the site erupts—to pour
its cockamamie allure
on the fragrant cipher
exfoliating separate, e-quill plunder.
Impossible to tally.
Can only cast
on scintillate planes.
Given these odds,
all bets are off.
Not a joke.
Except it is.
Bone on bone
Os, dotted, indebted,
doubled by being cubed.
oreille minus oeil
é-gal le R.
Early morn, Blue I awoke,
off-sides a wicked
“One coo, daddy.
One coup beyond the die.
Plea: enlist, instruct me,
still a verge ensign.
Co-opt me, dado!”
Beaded angel thick dark wing in-pli,
arrives to deliver
Such angelic spectral “Men”
as Ben, Lance, Dan, serve as Cum-
Stances all to tune elle, as knights to
defend her flotsam aphrasia,
like voile de gaze
like veil de gaz
sheer mist layering thick mast.
This marker mixed with cool of day
gris-gris nimbus spray
altocumulus of disordered fate
was “recalculated at a different sampling rate.”
What is the cause of déjà lu?
Is it lune in the day sky?
spume in the night sky?
Science cannot tell you.
But other HYPOTHETICALS relay
ringing dub-bells of the Page
feather of the father, twisting down
flume of the tant—so much, the such;
all these twangs of tweak
fake “little virile reason” hymning
ardor at the ductile edge of perfect
which is the knife edge of the page
which is the gutter of the page
which is the emptiness of the page.
Enfolded pages’ pips of quire
This is scientia. This is info.
Plus, aren’t you just
glad to see me (and I, you)?
No man no man no man made this ghost.
THE CREASE NUMBERS THE LIGHT;
SEIZE IT, CHIEF WRIT. ILLUMINE. OR NOT.
cries blank-ful circe knotting and unknotting tulle
(salut, slippery hitch,
wreathed sway lashed on hawser:
Such charms and placards rolled in
conjugated tarp, flag out!
No aura, no lore’s enough.
All elevation’s ordinary.
But Verse in Absentia
the ur verve
Cues up her Plume.
NO ABULIA! HASARD
all the way.
Unfurl the sail, let’s go.
Tie me to the midden mast with fresh sirenic daft
against the ocean’s rushing surge.
The site pure recognition (sing to me, I sing to me, to you)
constructed from enormous loss
whose saturated gaze
IN / FROM / BACK TO
Voir-dire engulfed in songes of foundering.
Vertiginous torsion of the phantom judge.
To take the dark one in and not (and yes) be drowned!
from the rune nexi
high waves breaking on Il Capitán
and ghost fossils large as jellyfish imbedded in black stone.
hooked wrack ffloret alt- knotted
dawn brine quirk chord
orthography -eur awl document
lenticular abyssal gris -ite
arc wrecks PROLIX letter-knife
diasporic gothick shiva TALMUD
tha thee this --th unrolls
HAS ANYTHING HAPPENED?
To have always taken place:
the blank/ the black a blanker/
glossy blacker taste of Pantone ink.
NOTHING IS EVER ENOUGH
even into extended telling, even unto toll,
each common number counts
as (q.v.) penetration and/ or fellation of vanishing points,
vigorous additives scribbling IS / IS NOT.
Each Factor goes astrew in gale force winds of Primes.
Each pulls (as if!) across the wide, wild dict
recto-verso, mercurial im – mage,
counting onesy twirlsy three, infinity
slit with knife at the endge of folded page;
what you have done.
Sybilline bones rattling
the gristle-knots of No Frage, the shipwreck, no question ‘bout IT
in the flung net of starry night
as if it were this or that abyss
as if it were hilarity
as if it were, oddly (even)
scored like an OEUF, at ZERO
(no one wins this lottery) (power ball bobbing on the ocean)
watchful, doubtful, dizzy with
scintillation, engulfing endlessness in itself: THE
in a universe of outriggers. ADDS UP TO WHAT? a here dispersed into stubbornness,
WRITING as ceaseless act, a meltdown into any molecule, the clamber of syllable, the
chunk-stave ladder labyrinth at the far, far side of Page, a letter 23 of 22 lurching out
beyond one single alphabet’s constellation of entanglement.
another other trace, or mark, or sign.
Not to implicate others, but the following people helped with their versions of Mallarmé’s work:
Henry Weinfield, with his committed translations and discussions in Stéphane Mallarmé, Collected Poems (University of California Press, 1994),
Charles Bernstein, with the homophonic “Salute” in My Way (University of Chicago Press, 2001),
and Serge Gavronsky with Mallarmé Spectral ou Zukofsky au Travail (Limousin: La Main Courante, 1998), a study that located Zukofsky’s pun on “oe” (“A”-19, 423).
Citations, near-citations, recalibrations and homophonic irruptions draw on “Eventail” and “Un Coup de Dés.”
I have also at various times been indebted to Daisy Alden’s and Anthony Hartley’s translations of, and Leo Bersani’s version, of Mallarmé.
The child-written letters, saved up for many years, courtesy of Koré DuPlessis.
The word “dado” means (in English) the lower portion of the wall of a room, decorated differently from the upper section, as with panels, and in Italian, a die or cube.
Aside from a citation from Keats, and allusions to other French poets, “recalculated at a new sampling rate” is the original of my line, from notes to a disk by Charles Wuorinen. Donor drafts are Title, Verso, and Tilde (16, 35, and 54).
With many thanks to Shawn Ta of Temple University’s Computer Center Instructional Support for managing the visuals in this poem, and infinite thanks to editor John Tranter for letting me step beyond the left margin into the void.
Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Professor at Temple University, is known as a feminist critic and scholar with a special interest in modern and contemporary poetry, and as a poet and essayist. The newest critical book by DuPlessis is Genders, Races, and Religious Cultures in Modern American Poetry, 1908-1934 (Cambridge University Press, 2001). Blue Studios: Poetry and Its Cultural Work , a book of essays, is forthcoming from University of Alabama Press in 2006; Alabama will also reprint DuPlessis’s classic work The Pink Guitar in 2006. Her recent books of poetry are Drafts 1-38, Toll (Wesleyan University Press, 2001) and DRAFTS. Drafts 39-57, Pledge with Draft, Unnumbered: Précis (Salt Publishing, 2004). An interview of DuPlessis conducted by Jeanne Heuving appears in Contemporary Literature (2004).
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