Witness (The Modern Sublime)

Bin Ramke

What need does matter have to be witnessed by anyone?
Levi Bryant

Like cloudsabovean alternateself in the clouded mirrornot light but vapornot a percentage of watera pure traceevanescentan evaporativeto solve a lifedissolvewispa wavery engagementerosion atlast is vapor as ifsublimed(passage directly from solidto gaseous form = sublimation)to become your own ghostshamble into shadowa happy adulthoodfarcicalin the clattering springand fall flowering cowarda flowing belowa ladderly entrancingform of cloud (rain) formingrivers (dissolving earth) intoa humid forest of selvespopulatingwe do make claims to making:“the Analytical Engine weavesalgebraical patternsjust as the Jacquard-loom weavesflowers and leaves” said Ada Lovelacewhatever lives lives longenough             //late in lifefrom within wherethe hand manipulatesthe dummy mouthcomes sly silence.Speak up like vaporrising from the candlethinning threedimensionally againstblue fromthe window seatall gone ungainlywhen we deplanegrumbling against eachothers’ backs clutchingbaggage.In the large cityat the edge ofthe lake, placidwhere the child watchingand being watcheddoes not sing to himself:My ship my little shipmy shape of ship in waterin air in mist in mind               for Nicolas

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Bin Ramke

Bin Ramke grew up in Texas and Louisiana, and lives now in Colorado with Linda and Nic and Ollie.


This book engages a childhood among rivers, take steps into the river-like world at large, then turns to (hopes for) metamorphosis. Transitions are marked but with primitive signs, such as the visual dimensions of number—a concern that keeps arising as the poems ask how abstractions differ from matter. They also ask how perception turns into memory, and what is lost when this happens. Much of this world wants to remain invisible, but invisibilities interact: light and wind and water engage each other (air plus water equals cloud). Light and transparency figure in every poem in this book, while the book as a whole deals with memory as fluid, transitory, illuminating. An illusion.

“Words are mechanical—they have functions—and sentences are machines. In Light Wind Light Light, Bin Ramke seems intent on transcending the notion of “single use”—his poems expand fractically, rhizomatically, in multiple dimensions and qualities. I have long thought of him as one of those poets working in the lyric mode who mistrusts that tendency of the lyric to tie off all its loose ends; in Ramke’s book the “lyric” is music—its desire is not to fix a position but to echo, to resound. Rather than argument, invitation and engagement are the rhetoric in play.”
—Kazim Ali

“Ardent and indelible, spare as the bones of a bird, these artifacts of an acute sensibility are sparked by the resurgent memories of infancy: forest and bees, river and fish, storm and rain, puddle and sky—all this of no consequence; all this of vital significance.
I was the child there watching.”
—Rikki Ducornet

“These poems contain the curves, ratios, relations, laws, and forces that describe existence and bind thing to thing, the fact of which, we might say, constitutes reality: self to word, law to light or sun or moon, wind to breath, not just physically but also through the furthering force of metaphor. In this world, all surfaces are in intimate communication, inviting us to “[walk] out to be there breathless” amidst its glorious connections. Ramke’s gift, given to the reader again and again, is in how he traces the fragility and glow of living movement, like gold coursing through thought.”
—Eleni Sikelianos

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