:: Article

from A FURTHER WITNESS

By Jerome Rothenberg.

in memoriam Anselm Hollo

A THOUGHT ONCE THOUGHT SURVIVES

when I
no longer
am
what else
remains
or who
is left
to count
& speak
our names

the small
nouns
even now
caught
in our throats
enough
to choke
the strongest
forced
to cough

& let
the wet sounds
scatter
sending forth
a web
a yellow
net
the terminal
where breath
turns black

the image
in the glass
becomes
a field
of stars
my eye
too dim
to catch it
seeing only
night

a ring
of bodies
split
along
the spine
the flow
of marrow
seeping from
the bones
unplugged

a distant
native
signs to us
astride
a horse
the whole
thing
dreamed
& then
forgotten

life
in the cloud
a thought
once
thought
survives
no terminus
to what
we were
or are

the universe
absorbs
its form
forever
angry
fierce
& cruel
as much as
ruled
by love

THE WORD UNSPOKEN

whoever
lives alone
outside of
human touch
the darkness
in the room
surrounds him
like a cave
an unknown
space
where all
are still
alive
all aching
to begin
anew

the word
unspoken
is CREATION
as the dream
foretold
so many
years before
long gone
a game
played
as a life
my own
the time
between
no longer
real

the mind
takes up
its altenstil
a mix
of rage
& joy
a cruel
intelligence
becomes
the universe
invents
the lie
of time*           * of rhyme
lost
in a total
darkness
will find itself
immersed
in light

THE SKY THAT HARBORS HEAVEN

into the
homeless state
the lines
of poets
move
not hardened yet
into belief
& other acts
of cruelty

their voices
lost to us
signal a silence
sure as death*             * as breath
& louder
even now
I hear
& treasure
like a cry

the greatest
cry
is silent
as the wise man
says
& turns
facing
the future
still behind him

mysteries
we love
only because
they break
the world
apart
enough to let
the faintest light
shine through

the sky
that harbors heaven
is no sky
the darker world
enfolds it
waits there
mindlessly
until it swallows
mind & body

leaving scarce
a trace
behind
once &
for all

jr-5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerome Rothenberg is an internationally celebrated poet, translator, anthologist, and performer with over ninety books of poetry and twelve assemblages of traditional and avant-garde poetry such as Technicians of the Sacred, Shaking the Pumpkin (traditional American Indian poetry), Exiled in the Word (a.k.a. A Big Jewish Book), and, with Pierre Joris and Jeffrey Robinson, Poems for the Millennium, volumes 1-3. He was a founding figure of ethnopoetics as a combination of poetic practice and theory, and he has been a longtime practitioner and theorist of poetry performance. His most recent big books are Eye of Witness: A Jerome Rothenberg Reader (2013) and Barbaric Vast & Wild: Outside & Subterranean Poetry from Origins to Preset (volume 5 of Poems for the Millennium, 2015). A new book of poems, A Field on Mars: Poems 2000-2015, has just appeared in separate English and French editions.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, September 26th, 2016.