The Present/

You step from the bus into a sequencing tool that is moist and carries the scent of


You move among the eight banner-like elements and continue to the edges of either

     an object or a convention

And in Cascadia also

As in the first line of a nursery rhyme

Against cyclic hum of the heating apparatus

You’re resinous with falsity


It’s autumn

Which might be tent-scented or plank-scented

Their lands and goods, their budgets and gastronomy quicken

You want to enter into the humility of limitations

Coupled with exquisite excess

You walk in the green park at twilight

You read Lucretius to take yourself towards death, through streets and markets

In a discontinuous laboratory towards foreignness

You bring his prosody into your mouth

When you hear the sound of paper



C. Bergvall says space is doubt—

What emerges then?

Something cast in aluminum from a one-half scale model of a freight shed


The slight smudge of snow in the shadow of each haycock in the still-green field

The hotel of Europe. Its shutters.

Fields and woods oscillate as in Poussin

While the vote is against renewed empire, or at least capital temporarily

Each wants to tell about it but not necessarily in language



I overbled the notational systems in transcription

And my friend was dead

What is the rigour of that beauty we applaud


At the simple vocal concert?

The otherworldly swan wearing silver and white passes on into current worldliness

The steeple-shaped water bottles ranged on the conference table seem unconditioned

     by environments



I had been dreaming of Sol LeWitt and similarity

In somebody’s visual universe walking

In the sex of remembering

But I have not made a decision about how to advance into your familiarity

This trade has its mysteries like all the others

It is a labyrinth of intricable questions, unprofitable conventions, incredible delirium,

     where men and women dally in the sunshine, their clothes already old-fashioned

They can still produce sounds that are beyond their condition



Here is the absurdist tragical farcical twist

In order to enter I needed an identity

In identifying this figure of reversal

The vital and luminous project

Will measure itself against women

And this has seemed poetical

When it is the ordinary catastrophe




I will take the poem backwards to this mistake

I will take your rosy mouth backwards

It is my favourite mistake

This masquerade of transcription

Hands torn crisscrossed

As the medicinal scent rises from books


Like a boat floating above its shadow

Build here the soul of thread



Pluck here the ordinary doubleness

Like delicate men in positions of power

They want the mental idea of the perfect plant

They want the perfect plant also

And I am the person who sits beneath the tree, listening to Calliope, attended by luck

Like curiosity translated as society



At 6:30 A.M. it was heavily snowing

The hills not visible, everything blanketed

I watched a pilot boat go out

Into mildness and vowels

Into this great desire to see

Always a boat in the middleground

And in the foreground, the men’s powerfully moulded torsos



Twisting and bending persons of the foreground in turmoil

Make livid a philosophy

But not under circumstances of their own choosing

In these persons we glimpse belief

Establishing the fact of perception

Its inherence in history



Now that philosophy is collapsing before our eyes

Our former movements are integrated into a fresh entity, into a freshened sensing

And once more I go screaming into sheer manifesto

Also called shape

In several ways, each pigmented and thing-like

In the use of hollow space, which has in it pure transitions

Calm and hostile and alien

In the chirring from the yard

And in the appropriation of falsity

The She is thrown headlong into transcendent things

She swims into splendidness

She bites into her invention and it runs down her face

In this way she is motility

This is different from saying language is volition



Someone stands and weeps in the glass telephone theatre

Someone sits and murmurs

This dog that swims in toxic Latin

Licks his Latin paws

This is the middle of my life

Bringing with me my skin

I go to the library

How will I recognize disorder?



Yesterday I felt knowledge in the afternoon

The alcohol relaxed my body, which made me feel pain

My whole life straddled distance

Who is so delicately silent

By accident, procrastination, debt

I sat in the material tumble of fact in a T-shirt



Say I’m a beautiful animal who has mastered laziness

In reddened clearing in the occidental forest

In the album

Purse of goddess clicking

I long to see how it will continue to behave



And I am walking in her garments

In rooms made of pollen and chance and noise

Towards the errors in humanism

To untwirl that life, puffed and rifled

In the old clothes market

In a tangible humbleness

Smelling of copper and shellac and solder



To the extremity of predication, decay

Among the 804 works, merely to sit in unfamiliar light

In a mauve-toned customized van

Called the Presidential Tiara

Out of belief comes

The yellow light of previous decades in a movie

With flag-iris and wild-rose overhanging



There exists an obsession with structures that dominate position

To produce a deep unease

A hencoop and a kennel

Of high-nosed dogs. Odour

Of sulfur emanating from

A dream of paradise


From R’s Boat by Lisa Robertson. Copyright © 2010 by Lisa Roberston. Used by permission of University of California Press.