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Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Draft 99: Intransitive

It’s not just the dead     are coming closer     it’s
          that their smiles     their jutting silvery eyes
are are are     no more
          a rasp or clasp of voice     become intransitive.
          And then     as cellular touches     flashes
     broken and re-mended     remanded
bone fibers     are, are not.     already already already we entwine    
         with these lengths
of marrow,      
                with unimaginable lost intimacies intransigent
with touch     no touch     with them     not     the pointing mmmmmmmmm.

               A golden intention     Diverge!     Receive!
motivated this tracking shot        yet
               the camera leaky     conditions whatever whatever whatever total
the old stock too fast for humid gray          luminosity     for the
time’s pale light     on the pines.  

It’s not just the dead
are coming   but   to run   to sleep   to travel   to wonder   to die
                         are hypotenuse announcements      
of  a literal vector.      mathematical crosses metaphoric space.
     It’s not just
          solidity of claim     v.     dissolving with an intermittent mark.
It’s their          floating          across.     But     where to     where?  

                         So band of odd light     cross’t green fuzz     furze
     so pollen stuck in the throat
vvvvvvvvvv     who sees     what          projection     coming across or not –
you need the dead          closer     but not to close too close too tooo
               Compromised these  
   This marks the urge to put everything in.     This is it
XXXXXXXXXXXX. This is the Book.     X upon X     overwritten
          wanting to say everything and throw it into dark
                         matter filling space.  

The complete     is never complete.
“Everything     in it     is both head and tail     alternately     reciprocally”
          And listen--     What’s out there?     Opalescence?     Opacity?
It is the dead,
and coming closer.
Silvery     like the
Moon in all 4 corners of the page     shedding tricky watermarks,     and they
declare themselves
from phase to phase.     In dark phases     more oddities  
seeds or stars     are pressed in the paper.

Figure of  
who or which     stripped in any  vvvvvvvvv,  so
     walk thru the daily,
a black compost where we stand,     rotting     generative     in transit.  
is the effect     fecund     on the spongy needles     as the hikers
tread the up-built bounce of pine.
It’s literally     all we have to go on.

The dead are coming closer     and those     who walk this
raggedy line     are  XXXXXXXXXXX.     This predicament
     “alternately and reciprocally”               nnnnnnnn.
          reddest of the wrens”     alit     then went.
So chartreuse warbler         lands and parts
                                   Plus a  tiny toad, too,   the opposite
                    flat as a pancake.          flat as a pancake.

               Indicate!  Envelop!    
Saturate with     overtones     of echo.     You’ll need to
an orange-blind wrap in the most dazzling cloud.
               Throb! Furnish! Consider! Avail!     repeat repeat repeat line  
                         Bright streak
the echo there already,
                         which watery call into the waxing wobble--
its impalpable sustenance     mmmm.
Wood thrush.      That’s what that was.      Like our robin, but hidden.
Yet no riddle     has an answer.      Present      imperative     only.

But tripled?   might be trump.     Such irony RE: years,     suppose I put
2009.     There.     And now so what?
Remaining true         for now. The date
creeps backward     administering odd frissons     inside the
inevitable     forward     dock.
It’s everything crossing   that I know    on water and beyond.

This says     the dead     are coming closer     with their odd-shaped smiles.
My smile     for theirs     my lips on theirs     we intertwine.
For we exchange     a poet’s kiss     each other’s eros     to the side.

Three things collide—
now,   then     and after
the ends     come loose,     pitch down all streams
of the dialectical watershed     it’s  here,     there,     and pooling
me you     and     many else     tongue     groove     and slot      
Is there anyone who is focusing this lens?
he’ll be off       this set.         Refraction     pov     not quite a
fly’s eye     but noir zip     and double     closer
triple cross.     The actor arranges coins     in a grid
               we know     this story,     why tell this story?
     Alternatives insist on being marked, but dark.  
     An unused room     next door a room in use.
and the corridor after.     Secretive, this secret space.

The dead are coming.     Each room of itself
in that old time place
with an open side  
fanned out to darkened watchers
and breathing worlds.    
The coins go over the eyes
and in the mouth.
This text is made of traps.
The man is still there,    
an old story of “gaper delay”
looks like
a frog, splash hard
on the white page
pen in his hand
poised glee
and utter irascibility!
Joy to see him     just like that.
“Come back,” he said
“when you have learned the alphabet.”

“I will.”     A vow.     The letters fall.
             And go beyond.
What marks to put in the world
            and in what world?  
         and inner life?     To inside it  
     the you of me,     the me of it?
Doubled marksmmmm hardly begins to cover it.    
So “In this section, there is much crossing of hands.”  

18 is l’chaim, or life, with its     180 degree rule,     so what’s off sides?    
is all the rest.
is when the project finds itself out
political, economic, quotidian, shallow,
rent, obnoxious, highlighted, and   enough space to get the grammar suggest
and more grammar “displays of mental confusions
with intrusions     of irrelevant information(s).”    

                         19 is after life

Nor is it yet or particularly
death     but stands     in any place     as temporary
“center”     and pivots     round and round
then moves     its site     and tries again.     It is strangeness woven
in and out the strange, with the sprockets and cells
of estrangement     vvvvvvvvvvvvvv     and at home, yes, home,     but where?
in the world—yes, and     yet   which world
in the world?     analog belatedness?     digital freestyle?     you need to look out,
and see what the dead keep doing     after all.    
There was a     kiss, a bit     a star     a clasp.
Indicate!     Keep!     Expand!
There was the cocoon swaddle     of all this music,     a seed sac
          in the body pod of chord
that splits;     and out comes a panting insect     silvery and blue unfurl its wings
from the other side.     Who knows but I am enjoying this?
Even death?     Well…      Bulge of wisdom     And intensification,     And curiosity.
Increase of alphabets.     Immersive lexicons.
Insatiate henceforward.

May-June 2009

Notes to Draft 99: Intransitive. This poem was written just after the death of Robin Blaser, May 7, 2009. Walt Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” is the source of the material in italics. “Everything in it is both head and tail alternately reciprocally” is cited from Ron Silliman’s blog of 12 May 2009 and is his citation of a letter from Charles Baudelaire to Arsène Houssaye, serving as the introduction to Paris Spleen. The poet as frog is the “Portrait of Ono no do fu composing a poem,” Japanese, c. 1530, in the Barnes Collection, Philadelphia. “In this section there is much crossing of hands,” is from program notes by John Corigliano for his “Etude Fantasy,” 1976. “Displays of mental confusions with intrusions of irrelevant information(s).”  Said by Marlene Dumas, as a self-descriptor of her work, slightly modified, from the information sheet for Miss Interpreted, her show at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art, December 1993.  Some film terms, loosely speaking, from Carol Clover in conversation.  Poem is on the “line of four.”

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