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Rotation


1
I was going to praise the transpersonality of print over the individuality of
     handwriting
I was going to praise the viewer constructed by monochromy
I was going to describe the remarkable comeback intention is making in new music
     and praise that
Desire for accessibility flaring up inside me as I praise the fantasy of corporate
     personhood

In the brief window between takeoff and the use of approved electronic devices I
     believe great change is possible
I believe it while banking hard to the east to find smoother air
When I can't tell if a person is joking I believe in the power of poetic modality, to
     hear this as music,
to see this as an experiment in the collectivization of feeling, no matter if failed

Red glow of the clock tower visible from our window and red glow of the alarm
     clock beside the window
collaborate on a claim about color and synchrony until the former loses minutes in
     high wind
Then the claim devolves into a sigh acknowledging the futility of administration, a
     fallacy
I praise for its mutability and enlist

2
I cannot express in the language of logical entailment my love for you, the second
     person plural
on the perennial verge of existence, like color almost becoming surface
I reach for a verb that isn't there but experience its shape, then back-form a
     phantom subject
with whom I identify, walking through the park at night

There is nothing more beautiful than a vulnerable grid
glowing in late empire, which is how I think of you, street lights flickering
I think of you as a friend who continues to speak to me, not realizing the call was
     dropped, or as
my denied freedom returning in the form of atonality

not when breaking glass wakes me, but when it enters the dream as orchestral
     innovation
I guess I'm waiting for you to read this back to me in a voice I can entrain into the
     actual, tiny wings
brushing the lips, beginning to make sense, oceanic
tone suspended undecidably between exuberance and flatness

3
I have almost none of the characteristics of the well-made man Walt Whitman
     enumerates
All I have is a kind of supersensitivity to harbor lights and skylines, which come at
     me hard
It's like smoking with the patch on for me to be in time, like waving to someone
who was waving to someone behind me for us to correspond

But we do correspond, like a crisis in easel painting and a dirty war
Soft glow of the Kindle when the train enters a tunnel, I would probably reach more
     readers
if I went on tour, but I'm dead and busy with teaching
I'm standing before a kind of allover abstraction the placard says I'm part of,

unprimed ground returning as figure, figure coming at me hard
I carry its afterimage into the park and lay it down like a lily where a falling branch
     struck a child
While I wait to be reanimated briefly by an as yet only hypothesized force,
I keep my practice virtual

4
And there are real forces at work in the popular, I acknowledge that now, I am
     seeking out forms
of acknowledgment, this is one, let me know if it counts for you, brother
That's a great word, like "bread" or "death," let's add it to the list of things to recover
     for the noncommercial
floating city I'm building out of trash and hair, the car alarms that follow thunder,

out of rain and thunder and bread and sex, this is a model, not sure if it scales
Like the princess in Sans Soleil, I am making a list of things that quicken the heart,
     and you can be on it
I am having a frank conversation regarding the permissibility of violence during the
     long transition
to re-enchantment, and you can leave comments

Out of the bright, perpetual midnight of the truck stop, I saw a man emerge barefoot
Out of the empirical fact of contingency I saw a relation of great delicacy grow,
     trellis and vine
and thunder and work, I acknowledge that now
I acknowledge that dark and light as modeling tools must cede to warm and cool

5
I just learned their screens don't glow, they depend, like moons, on an external light
     source
I had known, but forgotten, that the moon is slowing the Earth's rotation, minutely
     lengthening the day
Learning some facts feels like remembering, as they fit into a place other facts have
     prepared for them
We can carry the shape of a fact we don't know around like a photograph

of a missing loved one, though any isolated fact is useless
The steady stream of isolated facts we call information distracts us from a basic fact
     whose shape we carry
This shape has a volume and we try to fill it with colloids, smoke and foam
When we encounter this missing fact, we will for the first time experience integrity,
     which will feel

like remembering, reemerging from a tunnel into rain, I know
I read somewhere in the dark that a transpersonal subject capable of ending the
     permanent war
is the still unconstituted whole, the poem
its figure in slow rotation, and each of us carries a volume

6
This is the short transitional phase between organic imagery and a mature
     vocabulary
of great rectilinear severity, the sun gone cadmium among ambient particulates
This is the brief window in which the beautiful etymologies return, when you can
     intuit a future usage
in a slur, vinho verde on the roof, skeletonized foliage where we saw those
     iridescent beetles mate

A kind of mock vampirism is spreading fast among America's teens and we must
     support it,
their desire to be marked and live forever, their refusal to reflect, salt on the neck
     maybe the best salt there is
I am willing to stand with any experimental form of sociality grounded in twilight,
     and it is a ground
You can sift a handful, see flakes of mica sparkle

in the moment before the acrylic dries, before it's recuperated into the white walls
     of medium specificity
Because of expanding underwater plumes, a desperate pluralism has obtained, and
     you can say anything
in loose hexameters, help me gather these
quickly, before the night work on the bridge begins


Ben Lerner

American Poetry Review

January / February 2012


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