By TOM LOWENSTEIN.
1. As the spatula scrapes away debris
As the spatula scrapes away debris, an artefact emerges with its tessellation warped, the colours veiled in dust. These are not consolidations of an imagined underworld: the lid, the crust, the integument of an interior, but conservation of soul life.
What is it that the afterlife has preserved, if not an expression of residue? Surely not the dreck, the excrement of common experience,
what’s left of the collective journey,
but praise for the circumambient objects, that survive the body
and the cartoon loops that must detach as if not happened.
We have gratified our archaeology aesthetic. Naught else remains.
2.This is something that I must not do.
This is something that I must not do.
Das Ding an sich for some time has been in cultural exile
and I must plod forward via metonymy.
This, given the literal nature of my imagination,
remains the most difficult challenge.
For I can still no more mean what I say.
And who knows, the aging self included,
what I think, as though this were important.
3.Oh language, you have never loved me
Oh language, you have never loved me,
while I’ve courted you in my uncertainty as I might have a woman –
And like a Renaissance poet in pretense of abasement,
prostrating himself in pursuit of a vainglorious humiliation.
4.I’d love to print my neck with snakes and webs and Hebrew characters.
I’d love to print my neck with snakes and webs and Hebrew characters.
But that’s where food and breath move up and down.
And I’d want not to entrap them and so let go symbols.
5.In contemplation of the view which a bat is transecting
In contemplation of the view which a bat is transecting
as though in affirmation of continuity,
I can no longer raise an objection to the drag line on the construction site
whose red light tops the ash tree by way of middle distance,
and which admonishes my stick-in-the-mudness
with a proclamation of a future,
part of whose developments, I might, in absentia, disapprove of.
6.If I am no longer that person
If I am no longer that person – though I don’t know who it was –
please introduce me to this new being
with whom likewise I remain unfamiliar.
Who is reading this book and what impact does it make on him
that might earlier have been different?
These are questions to which no answer is available,
and present authorities will be superseded.
7.O muse, when I put my cuff to the sugar bowl
O muse, when I put my cuff to the sugar bowl
and you come up smiling, how I love to play hide and seek with you,
for aren’t we equally untrustworthy?
And when you pretend sometimes to let me win,
how charming but unsafe it feels to maintain, at the most, an insecure balance
for the span of an utterance.
And once you have deserted me,
what pleasure I pretend to derive from my indifference.
Tom Lowenstein’s publications include Filibustering in Samsara [Many Press]; Ancestors and Species [Shearsman]; Conversation witth Murasaki [Shearsman]; and From Culbone Wood to Xanadu [Shearsman]. Three volumes of ethnohistorical material from Tikigaq, Alaska, 1990-2008, conclude with Ultimate Americans [University of Alaska Press]. His prose account of life and culture change in Alaska, After the Snowbird Comes the Whale, was serialised in The Fortnightly Review. The serial will be edited and published by Shearsman.