Friday, September 21, 2007

Paterson: Book Four, Chapter III, p. 202

**this poem is a collaborative effort between Conversely and T. Azimuth Schwitters. It also marks the end of the main poetry sequence of the Paterson Project. Both the music and song-writing portions of the project are still active (although mostly unrecorded!), as are our hopes for beginning another poetry project, which we will share with you shortly. Lastly, if you were to look at the "Listing" page, you might notice we never wrote a poem for "The Bitch and the Man from the Sea." We suggest you simply do not look at the "Listing" page. Signing off, T. Az.**

Ends (Oh, Passaic!)

These ends are always so redundant, what with their gymnastics and linguistic representations of pictorial representations of mathematic representations of an impossibly simple natural phenomenon.

Oh, Passaic, why do we bother? Your course—our chorus—is, of course, not quite the ends we’d like it to be.

Your path explodes, vomits, if we’re that kind of poet—which, truth be told, we are, because we all are; otherwise, we say again (though in a slightly different context), why bother?—out and away from silk and graffiti and awkward, painful teenage fucking in the ruins of the somewhat less than pure products of America but nonetheless products, and ones Hamilton would have swooned over at that.

We’d hoped, oh Passaic, that our ends would be in shoring, in snuggling among stones, these same stones and bricks, never to splinter, never to drift apart, never to rot. But for what life is there that which is still?

And for this reason we find ourselves thoroughly discouraged. Oh, Passaic—what is all this spreading out? Standing in the spray of your mouth, trudging through the sand and the slop of the city, wading into the whole and rippling present. The present! This is no gift! This is where we come to wear away and break and crumble for our own first time over and over again, dissolving into new stories for not only new and different verse, but, what’s worse, a whole new chorus.

And each time we hope for a monument, that for once what we seek will not be fixed in decay, and will not spread out into the brackish waters and rust away. It seemed so solid, once, this history.

We had carefully cut new pieces with a dull and rusty blade to fill in those missing from our jigsaw puzzle memories, a box mostly empty but from which we were compelled to use all that’s there. Oh, you God damned Passaic and I mean God damned Passaic we shuffled along your floor, scooping your muck and molding it and squeezing it flat, holding it out in our hands, cutting palms to shreds with these wretched old blades, and carefully—so carefully—carving new puzzle pieces from your bed that fit perfectly—so perfectly—with the old ones.

This thing, this thing, it is the only thing. We will not find, at the end of our days a monument or memory, but instead this thing, floating briefly, just visible in the current, one among so many, dissolving quickly in the sticky film at the ocean’s surface. What has moved? What has moved us, lost, but to the memory which too is lost.

Do not pull us apart, oh, Passaic! Let us fill! Stay the bursting! Together, we will find the others, we will borrow their pieces, the brackish waters can heal our hands and we will touch, we will lock our fingers together, Swedenborg’s angels will have nothing!—no nothing!—on us! Light will burst from our hands, a glowing ball of healing palms pressed together, blood will flow through the wounds and our hands, locked together as the young couple looking for a place with a little privacy lock theirs together, and our skin will heal, our skin will heal our skin will heal and our skin will lock our hands together and we will let our fingers free and twist them about but our palms—our palms—will remain fused and forever aglow.

But here, our present, we’re tossed out to sea and our work, our careful work, is destroyed, ripped apart in a spiral of Passaic and Atlantic, and we somersault out onto the shore, weeping anew our hands are healed but separated from the others and the sea is sleeping a tired mother and we are weeping and hungry and we drag ourselves away from it all only to find we are young and full of energy and so tired and our slates are wiped clean except for all these used puzzle pieces and we strive and strive for the more that we can have the more monuments we can make the rot that will not rot the drivel that will grow into the monument that we can flow through and in and live on and on without the pain of our own birth, shredded and squeezed from the ocean.

To be one—to simply, perfectly, be one, is all we’ve asked, oh Passaic. Our verse and song, let it be one, just one, our hands on fire.

A thousand choruses. Spreading out, a thousand verses. At once, a thousand voices, a thousand more.

An iron bridge stands over the Great Falls of the Passaic River in Paterson, New Jersey. From here we dive, gloriously, Olympian, into the muddy foam.

Paterson: Book Four, Chapter III, p. 199

*adult content disclaimer*

Seeds, or Ideas Spilled by the River Into the Sea

You want to talk about seeds? How’s this:

Two nights ago, rain fell in the middle of the Paterson, New Jersey night for just over an hour and a half. After it funneled down defunct gutters and cascaded over the twist-torn corners of tar-flat roofs, it splattered down on brown-grey piles of week-old frozen winter shit and knocked loose bled-grey newspapers, fast-food bags, crushed packs of cigarettes, and a used condom caked in the crease between sidewalk and storefront and carried them in a flash-flood stream to the park adjacent to the S.U.M. building. There, in the dying-dead carcass of Hamilton’s America, three dry-cold weeks of detritus slipped into the crawling current of the long-spoiled Passaic and made their way, soggy and broken, to an estuary on the Hudson and out to the Sea. If you want poetry, look at the condom: coagulated, left-over semen in a flimsy-yellow bit of latex sank in the current and rolled hesitantly across the riverbed, sending over the course of an hour its contents in sporadic pollen-bursts of wasted spunk into the filth of that long-named River in this yet-named night.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Paterson: Book Four, Chapter III, p. 193

The Memory of the River

Is it absurd to believe the bottom
is reachable to hands desperately
stretched and seeking it? To see in the strain
grains of soft sand wet and clinging downwardly
to current- and finger-traced lines of a body
unmoved (unmoving) in motions passing
on and through the stilled silence of its whole?
To reach for this ever, albeit now
more exhaustedly? To float still, silent,
inverted yet over the quiet floor,
holding against for a moment the flow
of all that is pressing, urgent, spoken ---
So much water passes, spreads out, in waves
while so little catches, in fingers, and stays.