Untitled No. 1
Now I am a freight, so I harbor tricks. They prate
and clatter as I pretend to listen. The water is green
and deep and the chunks of fat all float.
I squat behind the headboard in waiting:
I want every clod who’ll make this heart, a heart.
The empty room is now noxious and sour. So I’ll die,
be gloriously dead with The published,
have my meaning stolen and my face carved upward into the gut of a clock.
— G E Costello
STANZAS, SEXES, SEDUCTIONS (Anne Carson)
It’s good to be neuter.
I want to have meaningless legs.
There are things unbearable.
One can evade them a long time.
Then you die.
The ocean reminds me
of your green room.
There are things unbearable.
Scorn, princes, this little size
My personal poetry is a failure.
I do not want to be a person.
I want to be unbearable.
Lover to lover, the greenness of love.
Earth bears no such plant.
Who does not end up
a female impersonator?
Drink all the sex there is.
I tempt you.
There are things unbearable.
Rocking themselves down,
some ballet term for it —-
fragment of foil, little
spin, little drunk, little do, little oh, alas.
Nietzsche introduced two forms of expression into philosophy: aphorism and poetry. They imply a new conception of philosophy, a new image of the thinker and of thought. Nietzsche replaced the ideal of knowledge, the discovery of the truth, with interpretation and evaluation. Interpretation establishes the “meaning” of a phenomenon, which is always fragmentary and incomplete; evaluation determines the hierarchical “value” of the meanings and totalizes the fragments without diminishing, or eliminating their plurality. Indeed, aphorism is both the art of interpreting and what must be interpreted; poetry, both the art of evaluating and what way must be evaluated. The interpreter is the physiologist or doctor, the one who sees phenomena as symptoms and speaks through aphorisms. The evaluator is the artist who considers and creates “perspectives” and speaks through poetry. The philosopher of the future is both artist and doctor - in one word, legislator.
This image of the philosopher is also the oldest, the most ancient one. It is that of the pre-Socratic thinker, “physiologist” and artist, interpreter and evaluator of the world. How are we to understand this closeness between the future and the past? The philosopher of the future is an explorer of ancient worlds, of peaks and caves, who creates only inasmuch as he recalls something that has been essentially forgotten. That something, according to Nietzsche, is the unity of life and thought. It is a complex unity: one step for life, one step for thought. Modes of life inspire ways of thinking; modes of thinking create ways of living. Life activates thought, and thought in turn affirms life. Of this pre-Socratic unity we no longer even have the slightest idea. We now have only instances where thought bridles and mutilates life, making it sensible, and where life takes revenge and drives thought mad, losing itself along the way. Now we only have a choice between mediocre lives and mad thinkers, and thoughts too mad for the living: Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Hölderlin. But the fine unity in which madness would cease to be such is yet to be rediscovered - a unity that turns an anecdote of life into an aphorism of thought, and an evaluation of thought into a new perspective on life.
life has not gone well since i ran over the dog
and i would say not for him either
but considering how little i know
he may be enjoying himself
i’ve run out in front of juggernauts myself
yapping at the hand that parts the air
so i know something about doggedness
and even what it feels like to be put down
but i don’t know how to grieve
for an old black dog or my own rent soul
While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.
At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.
At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the look out?
At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-yen, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.
You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me. I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
As far as Cho-fu-Sa.
Li Po, “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter” (trans. by Ezra Pound)
(Source: yesyes, via grammatolatry)
THE RED CLOTH (Vietnamese ca dao)
Sad, idle, I think of my dead mother,
her mouth chewing rice, her tongue removing fish bones.
The Red Cloth drapes the mirror frame:
Men of one country must love one another.
There are a variety of ways to respond
to despair: drinking, weeping, picking
fights in bars. I took a lover under
the stairwell of a brownstone
at a party in Brooklyn. It was winter,
had been a week of buttoned collars
and long, black coats, of the nurses
from St. Vincent’s taking their cigarette
breaks huddled against the hoods
of ambulances, pale blue scrubs flapping
at their knees, of hotdog vendors working
stiff bottles of ketchup and mustard
in their gloved hands, of corner
bodega roses frozen fast in their
buckets of water. It was also the week
I learned my body could do itself harm,
arriving at the doctor’s office, cheeks
bitten red by cold, the nurse saying, Sit down.
All I remember from that party
were his hands moving in quick dressage
under my blouse, the tangled carousels
of dust motes falling from the stairs
above our heads, and how every time
I wanted to cry out instead I made that
tender bird of desire nestle in my mouth.
All bodies hold secrets. My lover’s armpits
were whittled ampersand hollows. I clutched
at the spaces that were not there.
Houses war to keep
what happens in them
from suck and blanch
of time. This much I know,
but what’s the meaning
of my homeyness in them,
places I couldn’t have been,
lives I couldn’t have lived?
Torn curtains blowing
from blasted houses stop
my breath and remind me
of what I couldn’t have felt
or thought or done.
Your greed has become dangerous.
it was dangerous even before that.
It is concise and defeating
and looms over your yard like an oak.
All that you want turns to water and
the rain is getting too dense
I covet, I covet, I covet.
You beg to entreat, but you’re getting too wet,
too long in the eyetooth,
and far away from this world.
G E Costello
As from a sapling log that catches fire
along one of its ends, while at the other
it drips and hisses with escaping vapor,
so from that broken stump issued together
both words and blood; at which I let the branch
fall, and I stood like one who is afraid.
Thoughts, go your way home.
depths of the soul and the sea.
In my view,
My cabin is the worst
of all cabins -
All night above me
Thuds a smithy of feet.
stirring the ceiling’s calm,
to a moaning motif:
Marquita my darling,
why won’t you,
why won’t you love me …”
Should marquita love me?!
no francs to spare.
(at the slightest wink!)
for a hundred francs
she’d be brought to your room.
The sum’s not large -
just live for show -
ruffling your matted hair,
you would thrust upon her
a sewing machine,
the silk of verse.
arrive at communism
from below -
by the low way of mines,
and pitchforks -
from poetry’s skies,
plunge into communism,
I feel no love.
or sent to mamma -
the steel of words corrodes,
the brass of the brass tarnishes.
beneath foreign rains,
must I soak,
Here I recline,
having gone oversea,
in my idleness
my machine parts.
feel like a Soviet
to being torn up,
like a flower of the fields,
after a long day’s work.
the Gosplan to sweat
goals a year ahead.
with a decree
to lean over the thought of the age.
the heart to earn
its love wage
at a specialist’s rate.
the factory committee
when the work is done.
the pen to be on a par
with the bayonet;
to deliver his Politbureau
about verse in the making
as he would about pig iron
and the smelting of steel.
“That’s how it is,
the way it goes …
the topmost level,
climbing from the workers’ bunks:
in the Union
the understanding of verse
the prewar norm …”
Who am I? If this once I were to rely on a proverb, then perhaps everything would amount to knowing whom I ‘haunt.’ I must admit that this last word is misleading, tending to establish between certain beings and myself relations that are stranger, more inescapable, more disturbing than I intended. Such a word means much more than it says, makes me, still alive, play a ghostly part, evidently referring to what I must have ceased to be in order to be who
I am. Hardly distorted in this sense, the word suggests that what I regard as the objective, more or less deliberate manifestations of my existence are merely the premises, within the limits of this existence, of an activity whose true extent is quite unknown to me.
You love a woman and you wonder where she goes all night in some tricked-
out taxicab, with her high heels and her corset and her big, fat mouth.
You love how she only wears her glasses with you, how thick
and cow-eyed she swears it’s only ever you she wants to see.
You love her, you want her very ugly. If she is lovely big, you want her
scrawny. If she is perfect lithe, you want her ballooned, a cosmonaut.
How not to love her, her bouillabaisse, her orangina. When you took her
to the doctor the doctor said, “Wow, look at that!” and you were proud,
you asshole, you love and that’s how you are in love. Any expert, observing
human bodies, can see how she’s exceptional, how she ruins us all.
But you really love this woman, how come no one can see this? Everyone must
become suddenly very clumsy at recognizing beauty if you are to keep her.
You don’t want to lose anything, at all, ever. You want her sex depilated, you
want everyone else not blind, but perhaps paralyzed, from the eyes down.
You wonder where she goes all night. If she leaves you, you will know
everything about love. If she’s leaving you now, you already know it.