Tuesday, June 21, 2005


        Loud Poem: Firmament

Blue, a luminous cloud. Sun
of incandescent red, reticulated, faint,
pretending amnesia.

That angels swim channels
of darkness between buoys: elliptical,
ancillary; orbit's solitude.
Astrographer, no dreamer exhumed
black chart's vacuum retrograde.

Awareness: an invention.
Things appear saturate — authentic,
moon-infused, annual. Belief, two-thirds
and up of student understanding.
Game summarily surface, indisputably

white, found nascent, impracticable.
Whose perverse, man-encompassed leaning
soul-supposes us? We demonstrate
dreaming: sweet, sweet, annihilation.

Based on Man Ray's 1924 painting "Lautgedicht"
(from an exercise posted by Frances Leviston)



Stuart Greenhouse said...

Steve, this is beautiful. I'm taken with the fused syntax and logic which clears within itself after a moment (or an enjambment), and I'm with it until the very end, when the tone, in my ear, falters twice. Once, and this is I think not more than a quibble, the transition-space between "soul-supposes us?" and "We demonstrate". The two sentences are incredibly strong, and so within the poem's development, but the transition itself jars me, because the tone of the previous sentence suggests a profound uncertainty of who the 'who' is, and thus of whether the soul we are supposed to have/be is actual or not, while the final sentence is spoken with a profound authority regarding two of humanity's more improbable regions of experience, dreaming and annihilation.

The second falter my ear has is that repeated "sweet". Gertrude Stein (more than) gets away with (more than) it in "Susie Asado". I'm not so convinced here.

Oh, one other quick thing: the "and up" of "two thirds/ and up" sounds a little colloquial in the tight-torqued environment, though, at the same time, the celestial and spiritual context makes the pun work. Just thought I'd mention it.

I'm absolutely happy to be told I'm wrong in these spots, or that they are hopelessly minor and unimportant. This is really an enjoyable and admirable poem.

steve mueske said...

Thanks for your comments, Stuart. I don't really have anything profound or important to say in response, only that it was a real bitch trying to imagine what words lay behind the black dashes. I cut out an image of the painting and taped it to a smallish black leather notebook and carried it around with me for about a month. One thing it forced me to do was look at language in a way I might not if composing from scratch. I don't think it is done yet, but with each tweak it gets a little closer ... (and so it goes)