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Raphael Rubinstein

“Some Ways of Looking at ‘Some Trees’”

These are amazing: each

time I look at them I have to sit down.
Joining a neighbor, as though
you cared about society and all the weird stuff
that goes with it, would be a huge lie,
like that speech you watched last night.
If you were a film still, which one would you be?
When I was 18, Performance was one of my favorite movies.
What I’m doing is harder than I thought it would be.
Probably easier would be arranging by chance
some lines cut out of a hodge-podge of texts
and getting them to meet new meanings.
That’s as far as I’m going to get this morning.

Later: ideas pass
from person to person
as they travel around the world.
As they do you can hear some people agreeing

and some people thinking that it’s more with-it not to go along, ever.
You and I are suddenly poorer.
Guess what? Buying up paintings is out of the question,
So let’s go outside and look at the trees.
Everyone is going to try to tell us that we just have to reduce our ambitions.
Well, we already are:
that means that their advice
Is useless. Is merely being there enough?
Maybe if you are a tree, being there means something;
OK, I accept that. But I’m going to have to stand up soon.
We go on listening because we hope that one day
their words may touch us, distract us from problems related to love,
explain why it has taken so long.

I am still sitting and glad not to have invented
all of the contents of this poem.

and glad not to have to write phrases like “such comeliness.”
It’s easy to believe that we are surrounded by a certain kind of music:
It’s also easy to posit
a silence already filled with noises.
The artist whose work inspired this experiment
once titled
a canvas “Contempt of one’s work as planning for career.”
We have to go on for a little while longer.
We can’t choose which place to stop.
As long as something new emerges,
as long as we don’t get stuck in some boring chorus
as long as we get to flip through magazines of smiles,
and listen to the radio on a winter morning,
we won’t complain.

Who cares where the kiss gets placed?
Only the people who wave money in front of your face.

I’ve been hard at work on this for almost 20 minutes
and know that it needs to come to a conclusion soon
or else lapse forever into a puzzling mess.
Making an appeal to the phenomenon of light could be one endpoint.
or I could do that and keep moving on a little farther.
I can’t avoid implying that this is “our” problem,
unless I want to spend days and days pursuing fine distinctions.

Is this a “put on” or some such blague?
I’d better fall back on reticence
at this point.
Forgive/forget these interjections.
Strip away the foreign accents and any lines that seem dispensable.
If all else fails, words can speak in their own defense.

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