Joan Retallack Four Poems
N O T A C A G E
Scientific inquiry, seen in a very broad perspective may
see Foot 1957, also Westermarck 1906, Ch. XIII
To man (sic) the world is twofold, in accordance with
that witness is now or in the future
It wasn’t until the waitress brought her Benedictine and she
Villandry, “Les Douves” par Azay le Rideau
mine. Yours, CYNTHIA.
Not a building, this earth, not a cage,
The artist: disciple, abundant, multiple, restless
a forgery: Opus loannes Bellini
We named you I thought the earth
is possible I could not tell
to make live and conscious history in common
and wake you find yourself among
and wake up deep in the fruit
Did you get the money we sent?
I smell fire
AT FULL VOLUME. STAGE DARK.]
1. Russia, 1927
God, say your prayers.
You were begotten in a vague war
sidelong into your brain.
In Letter Three & Four (as earlier) the narrator is
North Dakota Portugal Moorhead, Minnesota
The lights go down, the curtain opens: the first thing we
gun, Veronica wrote, the end.
Tomorrow she would be in America.
Over forty years ago
a tense, cunningly moving tale by the Hunga—
Then he moved on and I went close behind.
Interviewers: What drew a woman from Ohio
to study in Tübingen? American Readers
with this issue former subscribers to Marxist Perspectives
The shadow of the coup continues to hover over Spain
In the ordinary way of summer
girls were still singing
like a saguaro cactus from which any desert wayfarer can draw
as is Mr. Fox, but in literature
Twenty five years have gone by
Ya se dijeron las cosas mas oscuras
The most obscure things have already been said
Elliptical Ice Terriers
Just as your blades describe an icy metaphysic of
parallel curves, I will be your personal pronoun
for the duration of this sentence. You will be my
personal pronoun for the duration of this sentence.
It’s all about remaining in motion. Exquisite poetries
and theories of everything propel flying spins,
no-hands bicycle arias on the way home. More
reciprocal alterity, more biomimicry, less blood
sausage fealty, explosions of sweetest beauty.
My child, why repeat what some poet or another
has already said—we live our lives forever taking
leave—when a custom-fitted speech act can be
yours within 24 hours. With it you can perform
rites and ceremonies, weddings, baptisms,
extreme unctions, forgiveness of sins, funerals—
visit correctional facilities, start your own church.
None Too Soon
Located in memories without precedent, fine stock of syllables
not yet squandered in pliant affirmation. Don’t be scared. The
more non-existent of the gods are the only ones counting your
blunders. Hard to forget what’s never been known for sure.
Yearning minds conjure thoughts bound to deform the
musculature of the most determined smile. The only
worthwhile thought experiment of which I’m currently aware
is to construct a logical space-time bracket in which all of us
—animal, mineral, vegetable—are sometimes dreaming.
The History of Being Sche
Easy to mold, cut, compress, fold; not hard or firm to the touch.
Having a smooth surface or texture that is pleasant to touch;
not rough or coarse: soft crushed velvet — her hair felt very soft.
Rounded; not angular. Having a pleasing quality involving a subtle
effect or contrast rather than sharp definition — the soft glow of
the lamps, the moon’s pale light cast soft shadows. Quiet and
gentle — they spoke in soft whispers. Not strong or violent — a soft
breeze rustled the trees. Sounding as a fricative — as c in ice. Falling
or likely to fall in value. Sympathetic, lenient, compassionate, especially
to a degree perceived as excessive; not strict or sufficiently strict —
Julia’s soft heart was touched by his grief. Conciliatory; soothing — he
was no good with soft words, gentle phrases. Not strong or robust.
Requiring little effort. Regarded more as entertainment than as basic —
fashion is regarded as soft news. Willing to compromise. Weak; foolish;
silly — he must be going soft in the head. Suggestive or erotic but not
explicit. A person who readily does what is asked. (fr. Old English sōfte’ — agreeable, calm, gentle.)
NOTE: “Sche” is the earliest spelling of the English female pronoun I’ve found. The “c” gives the word an internal edge that I like. Soft, definitions and usages, are from the American Online Dictionary; until recently, pre-installed in every MAC computer.
“Not a Cage” is from Joan Retallack, Procedural Elegies / Western Civ Cont’d (New York: Roof Books, 2010). The other poems are forthcoming in BOSCH’D — Fables, Moral Tales & Other Awkward Constructions, Litmus Press.
Photos of Joan Retallack are by David Garland.