Carles Santos

Jerome Rothenberg

Image © Carles Santos, 2016
Photography: Oficina de disseny

Jerome Rothenberg

A further witness – for Anselm Hollo

NOTE. The poem for Anselm Hollo began while he was going through his final days & ended, or seemed to, with his death on January 29th, 2013. I had known him going back to first meetings in London in 1961 or 62 & our friendship lasted over the half century since then. I suppose that the mysteries of death & life hang over all of us & that the pain of separation is what it is & can hardly be avoided, but with it too there’s a sense of the preciousness of what we can give to each other in the little time that we’re afforded. With all of that I’m reminded too of what survives, both in his own works & in the lives of those who were a part of his life & thought, & mine as well. To all of which bits & fragments enter from the big book of outside & subterranean poetry that I was assembling at that time, & the poem itself continues up to the almost present.

πάντα γὰρ ἴσθι φρόνησιν ἔχειν καὶ νώματος αἶσα
All things possess intelligence, and a share of thought.
— Empedocles of Acragas

 

1/
I Move Into a Deeper Space

I who
am dead
call to
the living
little
brothers
how absurd
your walk
is
unencumbered
& adrift
you run across
life’s
stage
your words
are manacles
& cage
your mind
I know
enough of you
to sense
your pain
freely
& fiercely
I move
into a deeper
space
where none
will reach me
here
I strike
a blow
an imbeciling
fluid
from inside
my body   (A. Artaud)
covers
the ground
between
& blocks
all entry
birds
like little
knives
dive
down the sky
le mal
du ciel
the phrase
I hear
& fly from

2/
The Clock Inside Your Heart Atremble

reduced
to bits
of light
a thin
white
line
nerve’s
end
or eye’s
eclipse
it sticks
inside
my throat
I try
but cannot
cough it
out
the edges
of a tongue
sharper
than nails
leave me
numb
& distant
from my own
recall
of pain
the pattern
of small
trees
that block
my path
a flash
of lights
back of
my eyes
twitter
& call
of birds
made out of
air
the fragile
bones
my fingers
crack
& weave
like wires
blood
(aghast)
flows
in a line
so thin
it fades
from sight
tick tock
the clock
inside
your heart
atremble
clatters
night
will overcome
the sleepers
we will raise
a sheet
& watch them
as they fall
like phantoms
down
a thousand
worlds

3/
The Mystery Is in the Words Alone

my word
for it
is not
enough
it takes
a certain
force
the mystery
of mind
spread through
the universe
alive
in each
of us
our thoughts
returning
to the source
uncharted
absent
each time
another
friend
departs
my breath
feels
distant
days
condense
to minutes
nights
to days
the mystery
is in
the words
alone
(he writes)
the rest
he cannot know
but bears it
in his mind
all things
possess
intelligence
&
a share
of thought

4/
As the Sky Goes Black

fixed in place
or running
half a man
& half
a crazed
machine

he feels himself
becoming
what he ran from
breaking free
of bones
& skin

a solitary
eye
that looks out
at a street
covered
with tiny birds

yammering
chirping
whose screams
call him
to life
& always birds   (Han Shan)

my burden
more than
yours
a life
so poor
& pure

succumbing
to their
sounds
their wounds
will raise himself
by inches

sail aloft
the dream
is over
with our hands
we touch
the earth

beneath us
paw it
watch
in wonder
as the sky
goes black

5/
The Flow of Time

to pose
a question
& to answer
with a further
question
adding
one
on one
he finds
the choice
absurd
but cannot stop
the flow
of time*   *of rhyme
which is
no flow
but all
exists
at once
the street
has trees
once small
now grown
beyond
his wildest
dreams
the waters
curbside
rushing
toward a hole
that lands him*   *strands him
where
he started
childhood
past
& buried
count
the hours
shrunk
to minutes
as the universe
has laws
too easily
rebuked*   *rebuffed
where time
stands still
reversed
a sorry
instance*   *instant

6/
A Perfect Circle

the protocol
of light
runs through
the dreamer’s
thoughts

I seize it
unmindful
call it
my own
a flash

redundant
burning
kings
of chaos
rising up

from front
to back
the colors
make
a perfect circle

particles
in flight
the forest
with its thousand
birds

no prototype
more real
an actuality
of hidden
life

a fantasy
of animals
like narcoleptic
mice   (for John Solt)
& spiders

see
the sidewalk
rise
& strike you
dead

the way
the road
to paradise
recoils
& binds us*   *blinds us

7/
A God Concealed

I is
ego
in another
tongue

a swollen
sense
of who
he is

one day
will fall apart
& leave him
hapless

reading
his words
on glass
& air

or looking
at the sky
he reads
your face

the eyes
like shards
of ice
aglow

a god
concealed
his mouth
askew

the word
is formidable   [form-i-dabley]
in another
tongue

the words
dance
down the path
inside my ears

& come to rest
recalling
how you spoke
& wrote

remembered
friends
& comrades
ages gone

8/
The Names of Friends We Share

the presence
of the dead
in every
corner
opens now
into a space
of names
& faces
that escape
from time

the lonely dead
stare out at us
they learn
to play
a game
& teach us
how to read
the times
before
& after

gathered
in our minds
a faceless
swarm
of the departed
for as far
as we can see
the streets
of Paris
as they were
before

the names
of friends
we share
between us
on the flight
to berlin
other faces
with pale
substance
& grey hair   (Amirgen White Knee)
a world
of strangers

fathomless
across from us
they sit
& stare out
at the frozen
sky
barometers
of change
the living
& the dead
together

take my hand
in yours
& we will find
a passage
to a world
the mind
remembers
& the heart
can share
the resolution
that the dead man
saves for us
absent a face

9/
Inside My Mind & Yours

not right
or ripe
the word
emerging
on its own

he sucks
& chews it
spits it
forth
alive

surprised
to see
the blood
in droplets
on a glass

inside
my mind
& yours
this place
this planet

nothing
we have seen
except
the mind’s
eye

fires
white
& black
the center
iron red

my heart
calls out
to you
before
you find me

the corners
opened wide
through which
the sea
will seep

a liquid
air
too hot
for comfort
still

white
fire
on
black
fire

black
on
white

10/
Let Me Consider Death

let me
consider
death
or drop it
even now

remembering
the hard
facts
I go down
by steps

into the crypt
nor can I
break
its spell
& linger

the word
tonight
is generation
others
after us

a world
so young
it dazzles
when I stride
its lanes

but cannot
name it
held back
by the ties
that bind

& yet
how silent
are
the young
& hale

the pale
blind
worshippers
among
the graves

for whom
the names & faces
of our dead
will make
no sense

the worlds
we know
will vanish
leaving
scarce a trace

there is
no time
but now
which holds
all times

from which
we look
& see
the future
shutting down

11/
A Thought Once Thought Survives

when I
no longer
am
what else
remains
or who
is left
to count
& speak
our names

the small
nouns
even now
caught
in our throats
enough
to choke
the strongest
forced
to cough

& let
the wet sounds
scatter
sending forth
a web
a yellow
net
the terminal
where breath
turns black

the image
in the glass
becomes
a field
of stars
my eye
too dim
to catch it
seeing only
night

a ring
of bodies
split
along
the spine
the flow
of marrow
seeping from
the bones
unplugged

a distant
native
signs to us
astride
a horse
the whole
thing
dreamed
& then
forgotten

life
in the cloud
a thought
once
thought
survives
no terminus
to what
we were
or are

the universe
absorbs
its form
forever
angry
fierce
& cruel
as much as
ruled
by love

12/
The Word Unspoken

whoever
lives alone
outside of
human touch
the darkness
in the room
surrounds him
like a cave
an unknown
space
where all
are still
alive
all aching
to begin
anew

the word
unspoken
is CREATION
as the dream
foretold
so many
years before
long gone
a game
played
as a life
my own
the time
between
no longer
real

the mind
takes up
its altenstil
a mix
of rage
& joy
a cruel
intelligence
becomes
the universe
invents
the lie
of time*   *of rhyme
lost
in a total
darkness
will find itself
immersed
in light

13/
The Sky that Harbors Heaven

into the
homeless state
the lines
of poets
move
not hardened yet
into belief
& other acts
of cruelty

their voices
lost to us
signal a silence
sure as death*   *as breath
& louder
even now
I hear
& treasure
like a cry

the greatest
cry
is silent
as the wise man
says
& turns
facing
the future
still behind him

mysteries
we love
only because
they break
the world
apart
enough to let
the faintest light
shine through

the sky
that harbors heaven
is no sky
the darker world
enfolds it
waits there
mindlessly
until it swallows
mind & body

leaving scarce
a trace
behind
once &
for all

14/
The World Is What We See & Feel

if the world
were what
appears to us
circled
by the sun
that moves
fast through
the heavens

the firmament
a ceiling
lit by stars
not out of reach
but ready
to approach
the earth
still flat

the water
in a glass
empty of life
the wind
a voice
absent a mouth
the ocean
a live presence

bodies of
the gods
shadow
the plains
the dead
appear
in dreams
& weep

the world
is what
we see
& feel
never so much
as now
when killers
reappear

the age
of the assassins
once deferred
comes back
full blast
& beckons us
to join
the race
again

as once it was

15/
for Diane

writing something
to leave behind
is yet another kind of dream
when I awake I know
there will be no one left
to read it.
IKKYU

immersed
in light
the final
blindness
seals him
shut
his body
crammed
into a moving
car
the future
& the past
colliding
blown apart

I sign
the final
email
who
the others are
unknown
to me
the corners
of my mind
are dark
now
like the universe
itself
unspoken

dropping
from my hand
the book
is not
a ball
of light
the pain
I feel
in leaving
cannot be
your pain
another kind
of dream
invades me

loving you
the way
ahead
the far side
of a wall
arises
newly built
a further
witness
beckons
in the name
of love
as powerful
as this

the present
tense
is all
we have
I count
the days
with you
our fingers
join
& come apart
again
we live
on borrowed
time

words
left behind
the book
inside my dream
too bright
for those
to whom
we write
or speak
& know
when we awake
there will be
no one left
to read it

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Carles Santos


Carles Santos (Vinaròs, Spain, 1940) is a composer, pianist, performer and musical and theatre director. A multidisciplinary musician and artist, since the 1967 composition and performance of Joan Brossa's Concert irregular (1967), he has produced a vast and uncompromising body of work as a musical composer, author and screenwriter, film and theatre director, photographer and creator of unclassifiable stagings, objects and sculptures. From amongst his many musical productions, shown in the most important festivals and theatres of the world, mention must be made of Beethoven, si tanco la tapa... què passa? (1983), Arganchulla, Arganchulla Gallac (1987), Tramuntana tremens (1989), La grenya de Pasqual Picanya (1991), Asdrúbila (1992), L’esplèndida vergonya del fet mal fet (1995), Figasantos-fagotrop: missatge al contestador, soparem a les nou (1996), La pantera imperial (1997), Ricardo i Elena (2000), L’adéu de Lucrècia Borja (2001), Sama Samaruck, Samaruck Suck Suck (2002), El compositor, la cantant, el cuiner i la pecadora (2003), La meua filla sóc jo (2005), El fervor de la perseverança (2006), Brossalobrossotdebrossat (2008), Chicha Montenegro Gallery (2010), Schubertnacles humits (2011) and Patetisme il·lustrat (2015). The book Textos escabetxats (2006) is a compilation of his writing. He has a vast recording production, highlighted by the four-CD collection Lo bo ve per baix (2014), dedicated to piano music. His artistic, film, theatrical and musical creations have been seen in various retrospective exhibitions, including Carles Santos (Espai d’Art Contemporani de Castelló, Castelló, 1999), Carles Santos: Long Live the Piano! (Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, 2006) and Univers Santos (Centre Cultural La Nau, University of Valencia, Valencia, 2015).

Jerome Rothenberg


Jerome Rothenberg (New York, 1931) is an internationally celebrated poet, translator, anthologist, and performer with over ninety books of poetry and twelve assemblages of traditional and avant-garde poetry such as Technicians of the Sacred, Shaking the Pumpkin (traditional American Indian poetry), Exiled in the Word (a.k.a. A Big Jewish Book), and, with Pierre Joris and Jeffrey Robinson, Poems for the Millennium, volumes 1–3. He was a founding figure of ethnopoetics as a combination of poetic practice and theory, and he has been a longtime practitioner and theorist of poetry performance. His most recent big books are Eye of Witness: A Jerome Rothenberg Reader (2013) and Barbaric Vast & Wild: Outside & Subterranean Poetry from Origins to Preset (volume 5 of Poems for the Millennium, 2015). A new book of poems, A Field on Mars: Poems 2000–2015, has just appeared in separate English and French editions.
Photography: Oficina de disseny