To celebrate our event tomorrow with Nathaniel Mackey at 92Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center, we’re publishing two poems from his latest collection, Blue Fasa.
STICK CITY BHAJAN
—“mu” sixty-sixth part—
If I saw myself I saw myselfstagger. To see was to be in my own way… Albeit to be went without looking, see caught look’s delay, see saw possible miscue,look-see made it so … If I saw myself I saw myself stumble, saw myself steady myself. Quick step, leg stuck, saw myselfundone. Slipped on the stairs I’d begun to go up, lay flat on the floor I’d walked across … Insofar, this was to say, as there was an I it was no other, of late letting go no getting out. I saw myself I saw, no parallel track intruded. The voice I thought his was mine, no if it was me, myself myown Mira, my own sweet Krishna, tongue’s tip touching my ear no one’s if not mine … Sufic, sulfitic, resinous, a thin wine tipped my tongue, took my feet away. Black leggings moist with leg-sweat the taste of it, lost, I was no one else’s, Wrack Tavern wine’s bouquet unremit- ting, Wrack Tavern wine’s bouquet unmerciful, lost, I was only my own, I layflat … Less than a second I lay there. I lay looking up thru the ceiling. I lay lookingup at the sky. Stars were tiny pinpricks in the blackness the nightsky was, black leg- gings wafting the light they let in, Wrack Tavern’s acrid bouquet … The voice I thought Mira’s inhered in lifted cloth, aromatic leg- sweat, cloth under cloth, underness above me,sky-high
Home’s near side far behind me, took now a new name, I-Insofar. Voicebroke, I-Insofar resounded, ground fell away and lay at at the foot of a cliff, made, as it slid, what I wanted moot … Voice broke as all escort faded, legs I took hea-ven to be, black leggings, drummed-up
equation of leg stride and starlight, legs’ lit recompense … It was I-Insofar’s Insofar-I, late slope I stood stuck on, stood if not stumbled, spliff-lit, metathetic remit …Beset by drums that were code fordreams, hair let down in the dream they said I dreamt, spinning wheels a music of sorts … Black leg- gings beneath her sari, said the exe- gete, love’s understudy, he quipped, called himself, love’s upstart, I said, instead … So the floor fell away to my right,north I thought, umpteenth amendment begun to go renegade, lacktone’s chatter the country I came to, coming-to the glimpse Icaught
SONG OF THE ANDOUMBOULOU: 106
Next up we parked our bus in a cul-de-sac, called it a day.Naysay’s conjure lay behind us, nothing stirred. Being dead will be like this we thought … Sound and supplement fellaway and we as well. It was our time to be upset … Tales of outrage regaled us now, trumped-up fire we campedaround. There was a life not the one we were living, dreams lined up, we knew, no end … Lapsed moment not gotten backwe thought utopic, thought’s
fare now something we ran from, thought’s fare not something at all … We aban- doned our book of the immaculate moment, bookof Our Lady’s pantied rump … All was anger and we were an- gry, gruff throats packed with saw- dust, no such thing as we’d have said wesaw
We walked like pilgrims not-withstanding we sat, circling the fire we sat around raging … The kingdom of the loquat seed
lay around the bend, bullet and bomb’s day soondone. It was all bend, we went around and around, not getting around it. The logswere loquat branches, leaves, lo- quats and all … Trumped-up, the logs were unreal. We teased it out as we walked a-round in circles, erstwhile epiphany, made-up lament, glimpse we got it might be only that … Made-up religion was all it was, made-up amends, gun-gladChurch of Saint Angry, made-up arrest athwart the moment’s de- mise … We wept, so entropic it was, hands, even so, balled into fists. We were Nub’spolyphonic nonsemble, clumps of noquats in our hands as we sat circling, Nub’s new council ofno
Say-it-again said it again. Someone said we were in China. The reed orangehovered above … We were con- fused was it fruit or the promise of fruit we wanted, concealment or displayor display of concealment, for- ever to be on the verge of being shown … We were upset something more we could’ve had went by un- gotten, the one something notsomethingat all
Reprinted with permission of New Directions.
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