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Three literary poems.

JUNE, 2017 – FEBRUARY, 2018

        —for Anthony Rudolf





of vast poems to be written
in letters of blood and water,
poems that will not be written
poems that cannot be written
for there is no meat on the bone
we gnaw tonight —
no water in the fingers
(that they might flow),
no words in the heart grown barren
among so many wasted years.
The time unused! The time unused!
Though dreaming, though dreaming.

Yet perhaps a last hymn
can be sung to the mother of beauty:
she who is mother, daughter, bride
in the run of the earth’s ravines,
earth’s veins full of blood and water,
she who is earth, who can she be else?
she who dances time
among the shadows,
she who has danced my mind
for years, for years,
remembered or forgotten
it matters not, she who will dance
my bones when there is no more light.

She the one love unfulfilled
who thus becomes the devouring
starvation of all love,
to whom we always look forward,
to whom looking backwards is no option —
She who is lifted high in the arms of
father, lover, husband —
at the heart of this loss, this first loss,
this everlasting loss grown like cancer
in the dancer’s heart: yes she did die
of that, of the broken, the loss.
Live Loss Live Loss Live Loss Live


The fount of tears
yes: that water,
will never dry up
for born lovers.
It is like the blood
pouring out of a body
when the body can only
reunite with its “soul.”

It is activated
whenever lovers reunite
after long absence,
whenever children
find lost parents,
parents lost children.

It is the one and only
fountain in the universe
favored with permanence.
It never dries up, never
can, would not know how.

It runs suddenly
at the least provocation,
the kind described here
for one’s source of love
imperishable, which any being
however hardened will always
instantly recognize.
Apart from whose never loved.


The bones once stood, and sat, and lay down.
The bones were comfortable in their existence.
They even helped the skull to smile.
Covered in muscle and skin
they felt at ease. The undiscovered country
did not worry them. They did not think
about it.

The bones dream at times of the open air:
the sun, the sea, the world’s fine vegetation
They dream of other bones
sheathed in the bodies of humans
and, with passionate desire, wish they could
have commerce with them.

The bones are aware of the length of time
it will take them to be liberated
so they can lie straight and naked
in the fine earth, in their final home.

While waiting for that liberation
they attempt to attain the light,
the light that shines on earth
from which they are sheathed,
longing for direct contact, for
immediate contact, for being drowned in
that which makes planets breathe
and the cosmos revolve. Alas! The Joy!

Nathaniel Tarn, a Franco Anglo American poet, is a contributing editor of The Fortnightly Review, a translator, editor, literary and cultural critic and an anthropologist with a particular interest in Highland Maya studies and the sociology of Buddhist institutions. He is a translator of Neruda’s The Heights of Macchu Picchu and Stelae by Victor Segalen. His first collection of poetry was Old Savage/Young City (Cape, London,1964), which was followed the next year by his appearance in the seventh volume of the Penguin Modern Poets series. He also founded Cape-Goliard: a Poetry Press. He emigrated to the United States in 1970, after which only two more collections — the important volume A Nowhere for Vallejo and the ambitious book-length poem Lyrics for the Bride of God — were to appear in the UK. Thereafter, with the exception of his Shearsman publications and Recollections of Being (Salt), all of his work has appeared in the USA, most significantly: The House of Leaves (Black Sparrow) and Atitlan/Alashka (with Janet Rodney, Brillig Works; also Shearsman), At the Western Gates (Shearsman) and Selected Poems 1950-2000 (Wesleyan UP), Ins & Outs of the Forest RiversGondwana (New Directions). There is also a significant volume of essays in Views from the Weaving Mountain (University of New Mexico). His most recent book is The Hölderliniae (New Directions, 2021), an excerpt from which is here.

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