Thursday, July 01, 2004

NEW! Ray DiPalma's "Agora" [poem in 20 parts]

Ray DiPalma


Never solved the world within
the world without
come from so far
set in the right place proposing
morning already securing
not harmony but something put to the test
neat footprints in the snow
that have fallen through eleven floors
accountable to the dream
and its unfinished storm
radiant and exacting
lit by a solemn burning of wood
crouchings gala and interpreters ancient
scavenge a torpid enlightenment

lights before and after the flood
the slowly brightening face an
oddity of conviction
an alchemy of cadence
a bundle of printed documents
tied together with broad red tape
alias upon alias
misattributions of mood or belated prophecy
brittle and occulted by
a deposition of mirrors
deeper and deeper in the overlook
the rose-ace snagged
in a loop of ash lifted by
the mordant scuff of plumes
a parody of piety and shame
the arcane restraints of restitution

inexact as step from step
the desert the clarity beyond
any sense of memorized time
extruded from the lurk of symbol
prelude is stray measure
lengthening the complexions of sleep
its perfected vexations are
attrition and query in
a cartouche of ropes and weeds
pictograms and night signals
arrangements of names
fill a folklore of fragments
the sample of one and its reflection
canonic sentiments and
makeshift paradoxes
a panel of yellow light
on a faded ochre wall

surprises fed on disappointed warnings
extended by the blowing sands
to any creature hanging on the guess
fever or birdsong passed through degrees
and textures of preliminary sound
first before first before first
interdiction as a mode of chagrin
the moon unravelling
drifts across her eyes assessing a river life
eyes that look back
infinity summoned by color

Four circular rooms
of varying sizes contiguous
to a central rectangular room
There are no windows
or compromise with light
The chalk lines of the builder
after three hundred years
still mark the limits of the central room
a reciprocation of the codices
of Euclid and the dimensions
abstracted from the quarry
The eye goaded by conceit
is pulled away from every corner
to the arcs beyond
The absence of features
indicates disquiet and
a regard for wholeness
and decided mass
held within the centrifugal
sweep of the cloister

sound falls on your name
this is what the hands have done
to make their preference known
a word at a time
a miracle of hanging air
the remainder a phenomenon of foreground
the luminous air’s
separation from all migrating birds
under whose scrupulous motion
you stand reading a letter
contrived of veiled concessions
and the moving parts of an apology
an ill-assorted collection
of hagglers in bird masks

a snap of flint
more syntactic than lexical
no longer a part of the city
always six hours behind the sun
certain ideas and symbols keep occurring
excuses for newsprint facts
of a short-lived dream
held in hand to
fade away more quickly
its emphatic secrecy
dado and scrollwork
lit from behind

recast is the discard
episode and admonition
the metaphysics that interferes
the patinas of an internal life
what turns from the center
reenacting the doubt
with grinding intuition
an owl vamping
its sense of the dark
the run of the sky
of sound of words
spoken on a road
that ebbs away

handwritten letter shapes
fill the page
animation dismantles anarchy
the testimony left
a mobius a zero dilated upon a zero
what is exemplary is unnamed
every day’s jagged edges
broken under the tongue
a ratio moving from fact to facet
directs the sound by light
surviving the r’s and l’s m’s and n’s
maps and pawns

invented to be described
sent instead of given
nothing of it remains
what else is there
what is in the breakers
what deduction
what do they count to each other
facing one facing
I could hear the words
but other words separated me
from what they meant
to pronounce or recall
the buffalo and the white whale
their epic qualities seen in new places
amid a failed sense of duty

a famous subtraction
preserved in red lacquer
only bread and hypnotism
permit its proper name
a yellow sky set against
a grey circle of moving clouds
the closer to the sun
the more important
a given surface
nothing moves
following the circle

a brutal flatness
a kind of modesty
no water only ink
drained from the inner ear
a few sentences scratched
in the dirt with a match
cold as smoke
analogs and conclusions drawn
from certain isolated facts
six plus five minus nine plus
seven minus three plus six
a circle ever thinner
five plus three minus five
plus seven minus one
hand and eye turning
one upon one

the final version
left on the tongue
what has been said
change and depiction
placed side by side
as second thought
drops of the flood traces
of the adduced revelation
a scrimped oblivion
of imagined privileged moments
anxious with surmise

agreement is subversion
of direct action
what matters cannot
be remembered or named
shelves of books tilted paintings
and scattered papers
the damp-stained walls
a lament that achieved
some general expression
just another set of terms
confided to its own alphabet
every mark of punctuation
isolated and repeated two
or three times along
the bottom of every page
elements in the embodiment
of second-hand privacies

printed in red ink
and 100 point type on folio
sheets of grey paper
all the street-smart words
not who but when
not where but why
determine their accuracy
a translation indebted
to an associative procedure
involving interpolations of motive
corresponding to mutually
identified expressions of debt
once familiar and dependent
now confined and continuous
nothing given nothing shared
nothing taken nothing lost

speaking for one whose name
was never recalled who spoke
for one whose name was never known
no more than a guess
an assembled story of themselves
scenes in a hymn sung
in total darkness
the page left unfinished
bearing no dates as
is the custom when scarce
and isolated things are rendered
at the limits of a coherent life
run along a pavement radius
over the lip of an horizon
that barely spans a desk
a wall and a ceiling

in the jungle thirty miles
from the capitol
patience wears thin
there was no such man
kept in a room
blindfolded and poorly fed
a number with a story
about another number
an emerald dealer stands
under an elm whose branches
touch the ground he
has nowhere else to look
what time is it he asks
are you leaving right now
it’s been the twelfth of the month
for at least a year
nothing else pulled from another pocket
improper distances improper time
obedient to but unmoved by the sun

dust lifted from a reference
intuition error and stubborn conviction
it still may happen
an unnamable point of view a prediction
closer to a legal right than a need to be said
given a colloquial emphasis
suspicion slowed to a start
the wrong person in the right place
at the wrong time
the next direction anything off the map
exposure pushed between the dark drifts
against the far wall

black red white and grey knots
in thick threads of similar hue
a tally of tributaries and moments
of silence put to use while old doubts
persist as as a species of luck
more what the bones say when the water
floats them than the fable that explains
how the practice of waterbones began
all that’s certain is that there was some
point to placing the windmill in a valley
rather than on any of the adjoining hills
but something about the feigned civility
that tempered the lengthy explanation
made the windmill and the shadow it cast
as suspect as the thistle offered for a handshake

100 miles of road say it’s okay to want something
after all something broken will always
conspire with anything impartial
first person to first person
glare provides for any lack of detail
overhead the seasons get easier
the scarecrow totems of the uninitiated
as uncomplicated as they are cautionary
the only thing to do when they blow over
if they turn up head or feet first
is to step around but never over them

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