new zealand electronic poetry centre


Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Fugacity 05
Online Poetry Anthology


Draft 65: That


Oku--farthest-within-dead end
hosomichi—path-narrow road.
“Back roads to far towns.”
But the other translator
contested this, declaring his
“narrow path to the interior” was best.


Road, water, mud rock weathered off,
portal in mist,
the fact of a long walk,
seeing no telling what.
We were just going to talk.
Some lines, an errant sort, go here and there,
and that was it.

Dotted line around an air in space
there was once
someone there,
particular unquenchable
rounded genial and hurt
helpful worn humane

and the space wherein he was
kept filling up with him
just the way one knows
in life
and so it goes.

But the water got down to a dangerous level
like the dark of photographs.

And now a dotted line, a moebius flash
one wakes and asks

what was that falls out
of range, what was that

event at edge of memory
left such a dotted line around a place.

Now you can come back, someone says,
a wish that cannot be fulfilled.

Now you can come back;
the joke is done. Trickster that.

It is not hiding; it is not a mistake.
It is simple, an unassimilable fact.

A moment: one sees “him” and
this must be accounted “ghost,”

another status, diffusing points
that even multiple lines and posts
cannot link.

A wave, a cryptic half
lip half-turned smile, an out-
line of.
He was given a bye
on the rest of his life;
he passed it by
with a wave
unwillingly, but there it was.

The stumbled byway,
split and split again.

The newly-dead try to say something. “Like poetry.”
They have information. They know what they are feeling

but no words. There are no words
they say for it.

Something goes speechless, or it can’t
fully explain itself,

it uses foreign phrases “comme çi, comme ça”
and “que sera, sera.”   It is debonair

like this, and not. It sickens and loses
slow and fast, it swells or sinks,

the body formers itself, as a former body.
Hands don’t do the same or what they did

can’t count on them and
breath, well, breath

goes slowly in the night, and here obstructions grow,
blackness lengthens and there are no

objects and nothing stands
in the way, in that one way

except carafe or crumpled sheet gleaming “normal!”  
“Here!”   Or in another tiny dawn,

that place: of its blankness,
of plenitude and unsortable impact.

Uprising is trying to invest words with alterest sdstated
altered states I mean

of meaning,
hopes and rages funnel into

one strange word.   In Stranger change of scale.

That encapsulates narrative,

that uncanny opening layers everything.

Who knows about completeness?

That is a fragment. Like everything else.   


                           January-March 2004


Notes to Draft 65: That. The two translators of Basho’s title are Cid Corman and Sam Hamill. The final line comes from Theodor Adorno, Prisms, citing Arnold Schönberg, 164. This poem was written after the death of William Van Wert. A few months later, Cid Corman died.

Draft 64: Forward Slash

The poem is the fosse
in which to cower
hunching down  
by warehouses of power,

a sludge-filled ditch
where futurists once lay;
now backwashed debris,
now box store splay.

Turbines process
hot Things and then
distribute them, but nothing
is what you want.

Things no one sees
on always-on TVs. Not fake,
but not, as it happens, unprofitable.
Lemmings running on the take.

So my throat opened
like a snake’s throat when it faces down
its natural food hiding in twigs.
And my eyes opened wider
swept by headlights,
fast drivers in fat cars.

But I could not strike, nor take in
all that I saw. I had poisoned nothing, hurt nothing
by myself, if ever there were such a thing
that had a choice apart from strings of stringent
stinging links that I
could barely bring myself to know,
standing uneven, aslant in the street
like the corner mutterer covered with a quilt,
bloated with poisonous fill,
although my electric other-selves
did damage where they found they could
all in my seely name.
Slash slash, it was too much; to be therefore
so close to overcome.

“I could not do one step at a time
or at least
I had to step
on many paths at once
with too few feet
to go around.”

quoted-printable Blank Rachel,
I just wanted to let you know
right here by writing this, that
I too am a stranger in these tangled
corridors of strangeness
threaded through the buried graffiti and strata,
prussian blue over burnt umber
a glyph of the twentieth century.
So far, this one, too.

I limp the maze where other shivering walkers went,
the hurt the halt the broken.
I imp there, am a particular shadow
or third beside them, in a classical cadence
foregrounded by the habit of harkening
back to what we know, some idea that’s so consoling.

But I am leaning, I am propped, I am fractured,
this is not walking but a shuffled drag.
I am trying to walk in the world as it is,
but all the weights and balances are off
sides, and listed, the whole range of scales
tilts, visionary ankle-twisted trail when I am
in this real world, pulling
a concrete plug or slug
my self,
whatever it was snapped
when I put one heavy-hearted   foot
down on the concrete
one rancid day of mist or missed.

I surely need to learn to walk again
where it is necessary to go.
There was ripped cloth and a hollow ring of bone
dissolved into a raining snow
of my own body falling slowly,
swirl and clumps
and I didn’t want to know
            there was nothing I got that I had wanted yet,
            a little fuzz or droplet indicates its place.
            There was no solution to continuing to want

except continuing.
Wind rain of a shallow day.
Hot fix but the firewall is, as stated, temporary.
So far there is no fix lasting longer.
There is nothing more to say.

And so I haunt the spot I once was riding
under the road under the mall under the state
under everything, strata, engorged & fattening shelves.

Ghost. Yes, ghost. This one not complex.
Just the shadow isle of sunken hope and text.

                                December 2003-May 2004


Notes to Draft 64: Forward Slash. The famous ditch is modified from Filippo Marinetti, “Futurist Manifesto.”   The citation is from Jane Caplan.

Philadelphia, PA. 22 April 2005.

Last updated 23 April, 2005