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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.


Summary?  None.
                      Impossible to tally.
Can only cast
          Arith-mantic letters
                      on scintillate planes.

Given these odds,
          all bets are off.
                    Not a joke.
Except it is.
          Bone on bone
                    shatters One
          Os, dotted, indebted,
                    doubled by being cubed.
          oreille minus oeil
                    é-gal le R.

Early morn, Blue I awoke,
          off-sides a wicked
                     A Noir-teen,

“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
                         osmotic hammerlock.

          Such  angelic spectral “Men”
                         as Ben, Lance, Dan, serve as Cum-
          Stances all to tune elle, as knights to
          defend her flotsam aphrasia,
                         silk thirst
                                    like voile de gaze
                                    like veil de gaz
                                    sheer mist layering thick mast.

                                                  image 1 of 3
                                                  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
                                        alter protocol

                                                               is why.

                                        This is scientia. This is info.

                                                               Plus, aren’t you just
                                                               glad to see me (and I, you)?
Salutations—forward post.
No man no man no man made this ghost.

THE CREASE                     NUMBERS                         THE LIGHT;
SEIZE IT,                            CHIEF WRIT.                   ILLUMINE. OR NOT.

Set sail!
          cries blank-ful circe knotting and unknotting tulle
          (salut, slippery hitch,
                                                      sheet bend)
          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
                                             sheer Number
                                             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!

Graphic image 2

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?

              WILL IT?


                              To have always taken place:

                                                  the blank/ the black    a blanker/
                                glossy blacker taste of Pantone ink.

                              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
                    implausible chance
                                                                       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  


Graphic image 3


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.

                                      IT  IS

                                           another other trace, or mark, or sign.

                                                                                                            March-April 2005


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

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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