2:23 PM Posted by James Owens

12/10/08

Small song about the fall:

water so still
that the maple leaf

is born deep and slowly
rocks upward

No one says what is real
until the rising leaf

trembles and breaks
at the surface, at a touch

*

Mandelshtam: poets are Yids

easily meaning Sh’ma Yisrael
glossed, tongued survives every Cossack

and / but
also

an image fails
at a rifle butt to the forehead

a word soothes the mouth
not as brass knuckles love the teeth

.

4 comments:

Sorlil said...

An experience poem - I'm not quite 'getting' it (yet) but I'm definitely experiencing it. I didn't realise that Mandelstam was Jewish.

James Owens said...

Mandelshtam was Jewish. I think he means that all poets have a Jewish-like relationship to language and power, even if they aren't actually Jews. I like this idea.

Coming back to read this poem again, I think you're right to be not getting it. It feels to me now like something is missing in the middle, another section that might clarify some connections. I think there will be a new draft at some point in the future.

Sorlil said...

I was googling the quote 'all poets are Yids" and came across an interpretation of it by John Hollander in which he says - "every true poet lives a kind of Diaspora in his own language".
Isn't this an amazing way to put it?!

Roxana said...

james, the first part is wonderful. pure contemplation, I've become thoughtless. I am so taken by it that I feel that anything else might follow is already less.