poetry is evanescence
poetry is life sentence, release
on words, liberté sur parole
poetry is a blind guide to an ancient
enigma, to an inaccessible
poetry is an argument
dynamic and jarring
poetry is a rag tag cos-
mology we can
raise and wave,
it's a small (abregée) cos-
breathless, in tatters
poetry is to forget
poetry is to separate self from
poetry is what's completely
poetry is emptying without
poetry is constraint to the remote,
to the not yet, the not
now, the not here,
the not there, the
not before, neither not after,
nor not now
poetry is breeching
poetry is to burn and give birth
in the same vocal gesture
poetry is being-there multiplied
by not being-there, remembering
to trans-be-there traversely
like a watershed
poetry is a misunderstanding about
what I don't know exactly,
but a misunderstanding
poetry is infinite impotence,
limpid, lucid, hallucinated
poetry is intersection
poetry is a low blow
poetry is transit and exit
poetry is infusion and trans-fusion
poetry is memory of what is not
and what must not be; that is
the culminating, liminal Self
the Self as an incomplete cosmos
never to be completed
poetry is tying—untying
poetry is the ritual scene of
infinite uncertainty, of the
poetry is a streak
poetry is crib—cradle
of the Trans-Organ
of the trans-organic
of the Indistinct
of the In(de)terminable
poetry is ash
poetry is diagonal
inside the manifest body
of Universal Inexistence
of Global Entropy
poetry is stiffened laziness
an arm hanging from the
branch of the Tree of the Knowledge
of Good and Evil; that is
a Monkey in Brazil
always hanging by an arm
from the branch of a tree (it's the Preguiçaii )
poetry is terrorism in the domain of speech,
a bang in the cloister of language
it's terror in the depths of rhetoric
poetry is liberation from knowing
escape from the known
a release from mechanics
and at the same time it's falling, sinking
into repetitive, obsessive, iterative
mechanics, which are also the
mechanics of hinting, of the
norm, of ritual (of strict
obligation, of rhyme, of number,
poetry is the implosion of zero time
and in(de)finite degree
poetry is unleashing, un-phrasingiii, a potential
threat, breaking, robbing,
poetry is smashing, shattering, shaking
it's a clash between
strength and restraint
that tends to erase.
We are truly
poetry is almost everything: that is everything, less
what it really is
poetry is impermanence crossed with
poetry is counter and encounter (spontaneous
and predestined) between neurosis and unconscious,
between archetype and Self
a monotonous and perpetuated ring between
impulse and obsession
poetry is aggression
to write poetry is to cut slits, produce cracks,
point out filaments in the
curtain, in the Barred
poetry is a fight against the night
poetry is night against the night
poetry is a rub against the voice
poetry is friction against the Dragon's skin
poetry is this
it's this and that
and so be it
iIn the original Italian, this verse literally reads: it's cell—eye of the needle. Villa may have been thinking about the passage from the New Testament "It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19: 23-24)
iiPerguiça literally means "sloth" in Portuguese. Here Villa uses it in reference to the mammal that dwells in the trees of South America, specifically those of Brazil, where he lived for three years.
iiiSfraso might derive from the verb "sfrasare," meaning to disrupt the phrase. It is, however, one of Villa's many neologisms and the interpretation offered here (un-phrasing) is merely hypothetical.
Copyright © 2012 by Emilio Villa and Dominic Siracusa.
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.
The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.
Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.
She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.
From Collected Poems by Mark Strand. Copyright © 2014 by Mark Strand. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.