Published on Academy of American Poets (

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- 
            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 


Copyright © 2014 by Pierre Joris. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on January 22, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

About this Poem

"The concept of the in-between (between languages, places, cultures, states of being or, better, becoming, etc.) has been core to my poetics. The title of my next book, Barzakh, is the Arabic word that describes the realm of 'In-betweenness' (same realm that the Tibetan Bardo Thödol or The Egyptian Book of the Dead explore) & quotes Ibn Arabi, the great Sufi mystic, as saying that finally, actually, 'there’s only in-betweeness.' And thus it is also the pattern or weave of our daily life—an occasion of which the poem tries to explore."
—Pierre Joris


Pierre Joris

Pierre Joris, born in Strasbourg, France in 1946, was raised in Luxembourg. Since age eighteen, he has moved between Europe, the U.S., and North Africa and holds both Luxembourgian and American citizenship.

Date Published: 2014-01-22

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