Altars of Light

- 1946-
If the light is the soul 
then soul is what's 
all around me.

It is you, 
it is around you too, 
it is you.

The darkness is inside me, 
the opaqueness of organs folded 
upon organs—

to make light in the house of
the body—
     thus to bring the
outside in,
     the impossible job.

   And the only place to become
the skin
   the border, the inbetween, where
dark meets light, where I meets
   you.

   In the house of world the 
many darknesses are surrounded 
by light.

   To see the one, we need 
the other / it cuts both ways

   light on light is blind 
   dark on dark is blind

   light through dark is not

   dark through light is movement
   dark through light becomes,
is becoming,
     to move through
light is becoming,

   is all
     we can know.

More by Pierre Joris

In Betweenness

is it a good thing to find
two empty pages between the day 
before yesterday & yesterday 
when trying to make room
for the blue opera afternoon 
of today a sunday like any sunday
in may?
            there is no one could tell 
or judge though my own
obsession with the in between 
should dictate the answer
& thus let me rejoice at being able 
to insert today between the
day before yesterday & yesterday 
as if it were the yeast of night 
allowed these spaces to open
(do not say holes to grow)
in the spongy tissue of this
my papery time-space discon- 
tinuum—
            leaven of earth leaven of writing 
of running writing to earth
in these in betweenesses that now 
please as much as the opera in ear 
that asks que dieu vous le rende dans
l’autre monde but the desire is to stay right 
here in this world this in between even as 
the sound changes the radio sings son 
vada o resti intanto non partirai
di qua

            exactly my feeling sheltered on these 
pages now filled and pushing up against 
yesterday

Related Poems

Light Travels

        1


        common time I follow you un-          
        kept secret on 
        a basic undersound
 






        2


        common time I follow you un-
        kept secret on 
        a basic undersound


        this is the first part of the rhyme
        allow for sequences of overheard
 






        3


        this is the first part of the rhyme
        allow for sequences of overheard


        close the curtains but
        playful elaborations of other-
        wise arrogant variations keeping
        the window open
 






        4


        close the curtains but
        playful elaborations of otherwise
        arrogant variation keeping
        the window open


        as it's wrong to shut
        one's eyes to dream
        it's raining while it is in fact raining
 






        5


        as it's wrong to shut
        one's eyes to dream it's 
        raining while it is in fact raining


        ears busied with hearing more than
        one voice the stream our tears unmirror
 






        6


        ears busied with hearing more than
        one voice the stream our tears unmirror


        or mere error as if
        naturally hard of
        divided
        noise rings in our fears
 






        7


        or mere error as if
        naturally hard of
        divided
        noise rings in our fears


        expands danger within our
        long thin hands contract 
        across quiet gravel
 






        8


        expands danger within our
        long thin hands contract 
        across quiet gravel


        narrow fruit tin cans
        loss of the white of other eyes
 






        9


        narrow fruit tin cans
        loss of the white of other eyes


        song out of mind
 






        10


        song out of mind


        or am I
        tethered
        so blind a coloring of thought
 






        11


        or am I
        tethered so
        blind a coloring of thought


        intrinsically fuzzy the sound as
        pavement
 






        12


        intrinsically fuzzy the sound as
        pavement


        whereas tenses
        are
        a later
        development
 






        13


        whereas tenses
        are
        a later
        development


        limits of a body open 
        sea the great sea 
        journey
 






        14


        limits of a body open 
        sea the great sea 
        journey


        how different the grammars of
        to think or swim







        15


        how different the grammars of
        to think or swim


        reminiscence and extinction