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Lisa Robertson

Lisa Robertson is the author of numerous books of poems, including 3 Summers (Coach House Books, 2016) and R's Boat (University of California Press, 2010). She lives in the Vienne region of France.

By This Poet

3

The Present/

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

      quince

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

Intrication

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

(Secularly)

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


Hotel Couplets

It was a clandestine winter of television;
We were so tired of the fashion blogs.

The moist world was doing what it could
To think at pinkish dusk.

I say this from the position of having already been emptied
That summer I heard the chora in the beergarden.

Vitality, monstrosity, sociability, anarchy—these are standing in for a kind of sensing that hasn’t happened yet.
There’s a slicing rain horizontally striping the train window.

If ornamentation can be austere
It’s a form of brutality.

I started asking questions about the sculptural values that sound has
And how authority is installed.

Describe the silence there. It’s a recording of silence
A marbling or breathing through

Of sentences coarse, heavy, and blistered
About things that weakened.

By 1650, with her outdated ruffs and loyalties, her pipes, her horses and her Roman histories
I was an overheard language. I lay down in it with my own nerves and blood.

Each has the pleasure of a new proportion.
It can’t be solved, only articulated.

Your wind, your clean sky, places, food, sleep
It all agrees brilliantly with the shape of the earth.

In this attic room with the deep blue carpet and skylight
Imagining these small actions from my chair fills me with an even calmer happiness.

I was the flexible medium of the future and the impossibility of beginning.
I was longing for the visible.

I wanted it to be real kissing, softer than god.
Thirty seconds of weightlessness as one’s inner life.

Oh breast-bone and guts
My heart’s all over my body.

Charis is the graciousness 
The discretion outside effort.

Plex

The shore of the lake is gradual and drawn
With rivers threading into land
Then suddenly it’s all land
Now the land is dark
And you can’t distinguish it from the water
And the hot orange sun
Turns everything dark purple
Like a painting by Joan Mitchell

It is unknowable
It is knowable
It is a sum of these
It is not without birds and animals
He is very elegant and kind
Her intellectual complexion
It is a beautiful word
The flank of their poem goes to the lake
To enter sweet new time
Trees express the sky energetically
So do they
With all the rarity of tenderness
Like the place where the base of the vase touches earth
To speak into time deeply
All the animals lie down together
This is what they prefer
It is explicitly their preference
New roses happen
Their Latin pleats
Together they harbor the intimate excess of philosophy
Which loves gardens

Now admire their breadth
Every flower is inverted
And what the flower produces
Is unknown
You call this beauty
As a way to express care
Now call it wildrose

Wildrose is resourceful
Its geophysiology is vast
It threw runners
To make landbridge
It threw pollen
With voracious joy

Underground network of wildrose
Linking all the political lovers
And infinite breathing flesh
In each temporality experienced
Is resurgent insurrection
The form of life of wildrose
Is experiment in relationship
Also named Plex

Earth the tousled rosebed!
From which the brocaded and tarnishing yardgoods unfurl
Some of the bronze threads blackening
So that the ornate pattern is obscured
Like dusk in a borderless tableau
It glows from beneath
Now time ripples from beneath
Now they enter dusk’s happiness
Rosebed is the lovepoem

Belly and horizon!
Wildrose suckers freely from underground stems and roots
Forming dense colonies that run wild
This wedding names everyone wildrose.