No. 4 & 5


Leonard Schwartz  

The Stream

The stream needs me to be here to run through this meadow and there is no humiliation in being a patch of ground, nor is there dread in the heart of the angel upon realizing his wings are spread in a tar pit.

All these leaves setting up shop on my easel are entirely a matter of my own expectation. Yes, but if you canoe by the right open window, a government will be seen giving itself to someone else, which would explain why this year summer is leaving us out.

Think of it as too much heat, so much sunburn saved. I would have been naked, right?  Haven’t I always been kind of frowning with flame, like all those woods evidently still wintering, still hesitant about getting into the foliage?

OK, I concede that love never outgrows the forest of the maternal, those thickets in which the dunce of language loses himself. 

OK, oranges are gleaming sources.

Nothing will ever wrangle those oranges from the trees, groves and groves of them.

An almost muscular moon suddenly experiences an earthquake, ivory keyboards first picking up a vibration that squishes and rages and rats on us. 

A ray of sunlight picks the moon right from the sky.

I’m just one raspberry falling into the cup.

Summer Vacation

Sand in the waves 
makes the mind immense:

rain catches in the death jar.

It isn’t because of the rain 
that the doe falters.

And as the stupor clears
your mind still crests

remember to cry to the sun 
remember to rise near the sun

without burning 
your Icarus voice

no yellow base to the black strings
of the shiitake mind, 

no golden base 
to the vase.

Let’s grill shrimp 
right up against Helios’s side,

piss in great joyous streams 
against the side of his house.

You in your pinhole aviary, 
I this side of the crystal storeroom

from which we derive our bones,
wrenched from the shiitake womb 

to natural shocks,
the absolute as real as a poker chip.

The fox
encounters his food.

But the waves 
refuse to gift.

The leash leaps.
But the epicenter is already crammed.

Al Fresco

To talk al fresco, to the beat of prior drums, of a past in common, and a ladder. To raise yourself up as your own mitt. A ball thumps down into the now: this catch of words.

Which furnishes us with a common tongue: you only borrow from it to insist upon who is who, I to find out who I am. Both of us turn out to be wrong. That would be why you and I are drawn to these window sills, not to jump but to jabber, and then to glare redly across. Please believe me when I say my intentions were good. I have a clear conscience, like seals, whales and other mammals that also dive.

Our mother tongue even strikes us as odd. Thus I am exceedingly familiar with a cot strewn with my own oddities. To which I add, “I will calmly sip my words out of a language that pools on the high plateau, drinking until the autumn freeze necessitates definition.” But had I not first said, “I did not rob your soul, I robbed a soul for you?” 

Yes, dust forms dust. But what forms form? Some shared genetic material, a revolution or a standing still, a play of light and never-will-be-light, war wounds and wounds you cannot see, the living and the left behind. So dim now, I cannot tell them apart.

To hold hands with contradiction.

Cliff           abyss          open parenthesis


     the house cannot get in
     the house cannot come in
     the house cannot stay out
     the house cannot get out
                  - Rodrigo Toscano

No symphony proves fruitful,
                      or Hebron.
Not theoretical considerations, not physical existence,
                      or Hebron.
To say “information” is not information
but an inkling of intensive form.
But do we, literally, unfathomable?
                        Say “Jenin”, say “Nablus”.
This will not be true of an inessential content
or Gaza.
And for each crutch sat seven without limbs.
             Or Tulkarm, or Ramallah.
In a mode 
forgotten to man, 
a million inmates.
Or Gaza.

All our tumult
tumbles into words,
turning them to windows of salt.
Of cells and sun
falling on the prison cells,
the sharpest rays illuminate
the longest jail blocks,
they will grow in the sunlight
of a special economy.
An original, profoundly superficial,
                or Jenin.
Scores of dead, send in
live doves. Each hoe held in the hand
of a hated rival. Beat their beaks.
Not grasp the birth pangs of a twig.
Say information,  say to a woman
“Gaza, strip.”
Occupied by one’s own gaze,
seeing only what one wants to see.
         Or Bethlehem.

Yes, your visa will expire at the end of this poem.
Yes, you will need a new passport  to exit 
this nightmare, a new genre of passport.
If every veteran of reality rose up and protested
every single case of war mongering…
              or Jenin.
In the prison yard convenes a court
for shooting hoops. Shooting hopes,
all who enter here.
               Or Hebron.
Unlike the words of the original text
orthodox  experiences  remains fire-proof: 
just give me the rock.
Pass me the damn Dome of the Rock
or rebound it, rebind it, ban travel both ways,
         or Bethlehem.
Dribbled away in a mode 
forgotten to free men,
which the Committee against Torture
finds to constitute torture.
Never to liberate the language
imprisoned in the rock.

The Tomb of the Patriarchs, forever and ever.
Oh, he was wed to his wines, cheap as chickens.
And of course he was strung out,
which is his God Given Right.
           Or Qalqiliya.
Slapped buttocks
in explicit jeans
no one dares talk about.
             Or Tulkarm.
Didn’t the river need seven dams to block its waves?
A freshly pierced goat’s heart,
flung into the tracks tank treads leave
in mingled bloods and mud.
These lands of little men. 
In their white frothy bliss,
their ability not to see, 
steak for me and steel for you,
doctors without borders for all those devils 
inconveniently jostled,
kept by curfew from even their cemeteries. 
But the cemetery is our library, 
our archive, our garden!
This is not true of an inessential content,
or Gaza.
This is forever, for forever and ever.
              Or Nablus.

This is forever, for forever and ever.
Trauma irrigates new channels of hate.
                   Or “Hebron”: 
a decisive detail evolving only in language,
a flux substantiating the published,
or Gaza. 
                        Beit Rama, Salfit, Artas,
a liquid spectacle of “facts on the ground”,
forced to strip and march at gunpoint.
                 Or Ramallah.
Unable to grow a single blade of grass
without the Others permission.
Did I mention the moon 
reflected in the silent waters 
of the Dead Sea?
That you thought you had done with crossing
sad tracts of land, those that made of you and your travails 
amazing additions to the constant stone you wearied?
                  Or Jericho.

Dearest Father 
(important listener)
ask that ancient washerwoman
if there is anything left to wash,
anything left to grow.
               Or Ramallah.
Dearest Rumi says that if you are unthankful for the fruit
all the other forms turn ugly too.
                 Or Hebron.
The belt that is the waist about to heal.
Dearest olive groves confiscated by the courts.
The waist that will not heal, freshly belted.
Never felt living beings within you?
Visit this cemetery,
dig into these roots of light,
lose yourself in earth.
Silence capsizes into a glass kingdom,
vast and perceptual, shattering
all your links to the former caravan.

Dearest Mother. 
             Or Hebron.
Sand the color of shattered stone,
in which sits a big part of my past.
Dearest Mother,
calling Gaza.
Dearest Mother, dearest Father.
Land that sobs from its own contractions,
never rid of itself, syntax beyond aching,
never actually giving birth.
Quivering in the wheatfield
from so much female,
too many mounds of remembrance,
too much musk and haunch.
And the sun clasps all of it,
blood-stained and precious,
to its sensors.
Calling Gaza.
Culling Gaza.
Calling Gaza.
            Or Hebron.
To say “information” is not information
but an inkling of intensive form.
Of necessity therefore the demand 
for literalness.
            Or Hebron.



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