«Lake Forest College Press Lake Forest First published 2012 by &NOW Books, an imprint of Lake Forest College Press. Directors Associate Director ...»
Jose Perez Beduya
Lake Forest College Press
First published 2012 by &NOW Books, an imprint of Lake Forest College Press.
Directors Associate Director
Robert Archambeau Joshua Corey
Lake Forest College
555 N. Sheridan Road Lake Forest, IL 60045 lakeforest.edu/andnow © 2012 Jose Perez Beduya Cover photos by Lake Forest College Press, based at Chicago’s National Liberal Arts College, publishes in the broad spaces of Chicago studies. Our imprint, &NOW Books, publishes innovative and conceptual literaturea nd serves as the publishing arm of the &NOW writers’ conference and organization.
ISBN: 978-0-9823156-7-5 ISSN: 0-9823156-7-8 Book design by Vasiliki Gerentes Printed in the United States BOOKS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI am indebted to the editors of the following journals in which some of the poems in this collection have appeared, sometimes in different versions: Boston Review: “The Fold”;
Colorado Review: “Flowers of Glass”; Fence: “Advances,” “Breathing Exercises,” “Sea of Tears”; High Chair: “Divider,” “Hospitalism,” “State of Emergency,” “The Search Party,” “Trace Evidence”; Lana Turner: “Book X,” “Glory”; Ploughshares: “The Reunification of the Body”; and Toad Suck Review: “Focus Group,” “Restoration,” “The Architects,” “Saturday Group,” “Tone/Shock.” For my parents and for Jessica
CONTENTSThe Kingdom 47 The Search Party 1 Bardo 48 Book X 2 Morrow 49 Autumn Evening 3 Advances 50 Morrow 4 Inside the Bright Wheel 51 Parts 5 Altar Piece 52 Inside the Bright Wheel 6 Restoration 53 Stations 7 Morrow 54 Breathing Exercises 8 The State of the State 55 The Architects 11 Ever 56 The Reunification of the Body 12 Weather Patterns 13 Inside the Bright Wheel 58 The Fold 14 The Fuse 59 Inside the Bright Wheel 15 Morrow 60 Voyager 16 One Thousand 61 Arm & Tether
In the fields We were boys And girls finding debris Gathering notes With nothing to report A people very inside ourselves We found each other Through a system of ropes and smells Our long, stumbling days Began and ended With ballad versions of the prayers We were taught in different tongues Flashes and rustling From copying machines replaced Our voices when they failed The images we’ve tucked under rocks Scattered with the wind That moves all merchandise Guarding against numbness We started small fires Everywhere we went Only when we buried Our hands in the hard soil Of the valley Did the throbbing surrounding Hills become a part of us
Taking pictures Less and less We dream with a train Behind our heads And light leaking everywhere Undefeated The news is gray From the labyrinth And when the neon fog crawls in We remember our place By the sound of our neighbor’s Children coughing In this grid Where one weak Lullaby ends Is where another Galloping away begins Day aches but Sleep also aches Across the sky unfolds A diagram of pure thinking It is as far away as it is fast And coming to save us We christen it Beautiful Insect We kill it with our eyelids
Who can keep meat the longest In his mouth without laughing Or weeping wins a prize Who slows the video down enough Watches bricks smudge The sides of heads Who leaves The train at the border Arrives at the same moment Via bullet wound Who lives alone Will be surrounded by armless angels And when she lies down For a long time in the field Attempting to decipher The temperamental night sky Sees the long swords Of flashlights approaching Who looks on calmly at the conflagration Thinks of the city from a shrine
With each of us Paired lifelong To an object we perfected After countless Precise repeats We misplaced the meaning Of what we did But discovered a new cleanliness And let empty rooms Rush over us Sometimes our hands Were their own people In the squares Tearing bread Holding and letting Go of flocks We kept drinking The medicine of another day Imagining the sunlight Were gloved hands reaching down Through a hole in the century To anesthetize us Although we were very Far away in our thoughts We always came back To our neighbors Their wives And our landlords We felt the spirit to be Near but also displaced Waiting in dreams Watching spit freeze 4 PARTS Alone in a night garden saying
Are warm and scented breezes But we soon discover The skin and knotted hair of strangers
INSIDE THE BRIGHT WHEELIs a looped reel of the founding Of our island nation Intercuttings of protests And political sermons
INSIDE THE BRIGHT WHEELWe tremble and kiss We lie down in riot fields
INSIDE THE BRIGHT WHEELShivering you sit At one end of a see-saw While the vast and buzzing Night A factory And all-seeing God sit opposite 6 STATIONS The blinding of the masters After the showing of the instruments.
Cut to a piano from an oval Window being played.
And then I test my throat In the gated community.
Segue to a change Of person but exactly The same scenery.
On helmet cam The night twittering And its saddest guards.
Summer ghost, When I stand behind your dress I see deeply inside my face.
These arms live Separately and far away.
They feed Words back to my house Where my plaster torso waits All day at the writing desk Inside a hospital gown While the radio announces Under a snow Of stadium seats the police Is finally married to the crowds.
No sleep No standing against The horizon line No harm No knees No coming to an end No quickness No razor wire No little boy Digging with a spoon to open An ocean this far into the shore No bitter sap No horde of fiber-glass shells culled From the data stream No entering No mania or the calm After mania No face in the fields Seen only from a great height No bringer of grief No flesh and the sound of flesh Pleased with itself No conditionals No illness or sex No notes in mud And mist In war 8 No trace showing The quickest way back No light caught In the hair of the void No predication No as an answer to an impossible cure No leading to a staircase Leading to a staircase No delicate shape of the ear No walking among us We who are perplexed No depth charge No mineral ore No subjunctive No mother crossing The lake on stilts No angel Of death whose wings are salt No scattering of perspective No horses on fire No statues built after them No water for the open-heart surgery No abandonment No longer missing No intentions No contrariness
No hypothetical states of affairs No forgiveness No echoes and echoes Through the architraves 10
THE ARCHITECTSWe pried doors open To blue domed Rooms when we were tiny We remember Much rejoicing in beer gardens The leadership Floating above us A big loud sun machine Over sheep meadows Now with glass and steel We toy with our reflections Mirroring our internal divisions We collect and leave Brochures in rooms for the rain And run to the woods With our prayer partners After the unspeakable We designed A transparent, ringing carapace To descend over our citizens Glassing in the city So our laughter Will always bounce back down to us Everyday we siphon Hymns from each other Where we could not let go Of the faces we have lost There leaks heaven
Stay down beside your confirmation number And be someone’s garden The orders of magnitude will mount And thunder past us This is the part
WEATHER PATTERNSMud comes next After the parade and party The skins and surfaces we know Are the flag’s Color secretions We attempt to defenestrate Ourselves of ourselves But only pass Blindfolded through many Clocks and membranes of lights We always arrive years late and stand As brittle twigs in resin So quiet Pages turn above us Barking signals our homecoming The offspring Of mongers of mongers We are so close to our surroundings We are field-like We feed the parks
God was Horses before the barn burned down.
Expired lights at night.
A pile of books in the clearing.
Bodies the next day.
I’m on my hands and knees Again in the scalp Of the wheat, looking for a fold In the fields.
The scent of heavenly spheres On the back of the wind-borne blight.
This living hides the seam of an ingrown Other time.
Where buildings don’t collapse.
The people there Rising from their desks Throwing Confetti out of windows, Waving and smiling down at us.
INSIDE THE BRIGHT WHEELA lesser vehicle
INSIDE THE BRIGHT WHEELThe city streets are long and straight But our faces could only Point sideways
INSIDE THE BRIGHT WHEELMulti-part questions remain
INSIDE THE BRIGHT WHEELUpon arrival A hundred machinic embraces
For want of an exterior While the fields And the caves of our country Grew inverted We kept digging Our faces slid over our faces Shuffled by a wild And vivid rain We abandoned The huts and subdivisions of getting married What was closest at hand Rolled away With a thunder In our heads Until distance Made the immense sky Convex A more metallic Sky against the skull of our new condition Clawing land Having filled our chests With the old, encyclopedic breezes We began coughing daylight We dwindled Large strangers came They fed us And they fed us 16 ARM & TETHER The city extracted from the coals.
Side by side Steam and white walls rose.
We began as daggers Later made neutral Later made cogs And yet sometimes the vehement coil Inside the chest catches And cars are overturned.
The distance fills With black smoke again.
Naked we would bite each other’s mouths.
The palm of day pressing Down over tin rooftops.
The combined weight of dealerships Upon the heart.
Even laughter ages on the disc And on my chest a many-headed Body emerges I reach deep inside Myself and extract People now living in tents There is no end to them They want to talk to our houses Their wounds form a pattern Seen from the air When the beasts descend They tie themselves To the ground And let their bodies be eaten 18 NTH SCENE Dusk after dusk Unknown unknowns Indelible increase In the folds Of the eyelids An actual and virtual Homelessness An opening Onto an everFecund limit Discounts in another climate A river A national day Of lethargy A clamp advertised As putting calm voices inside heads Oblivion of the jetty Reddish salt Upon the jetty Cuts and asymmetries Varying states Of wine Wolves Within wolves All the way into the atom Bare life Mosaic virus Blasts of spiral
A body Of water not site-specific Wounds of the mouth Wounds of the tongue Self-immolations Blocks of doubt And difficult time A hypnotic Rhythm of protests In the pre-dawn hours Stoppages and flows My fellow somnambulists 20 POST Sleep in your new name Sing a little To loosen the rope Fix your eyes to formal Joy before the disc skips Have you left Instructions for when the sea breeze visits you Now break your gaze The night is not completely blind Your anger swift And married to a man This is no longer the Babylon You remember, love, and gag on How rude is the sun Its trumpets blaring down While citizens speed along On motorcycles made of ash The wind will undo the rest of us Our gangs of dust obsessed With the backs of our own heads Where do the graveyards begin How long and elastic Is the century’s atrocities’ leash Blessed forgetting be and sincerely Your angel with the face of a machine
An image of our mother Athletically drying her hair Fades though we attend to the image In three dimensions
INSIDE THE BRIGHT WHEELAre marks on a body consistent With a struggle and a long fall
INSIDE THE BRIGHT WHEELBearded prophets side by side Snoozing
INSIDE THE BRIGHT WHEELRotundas as panopticons Where sure Rapid movement Is a kind of uniform 22 DIVIDER How moving Away from pure sound We fade into our ox and plow Such a fever in our new And perplexing life The roads And our lungs are bad Finitude splices Each of us to each of us In the many shops All closing at this hour Tomorrow will be discounted And another translucent Layer will be revealed To be viewed From different towers And yet will we finally lose our edges In rows we are still Suspended by our cameras The background runs through us We speak To our photo-objects We must mass-produce Mirrors to stay what we are
One hand did glissandos While the other Skinned the pulsating cosmos And shoved our heads Back beneath veils To escape and breathe Clear air Some of us grew beards We let out call-notes Whose crescendos the glass-and-steel Arcades threw down crumpled Our eidolons mongered Random wars while our flesh Did household chores The decade leapt Through curtains of wet newsprint Squatted down Over our pink tonsures And expelled A child-dictator in debris fields It was then we freed The archives before we became Recorders for the rain For all tents we provided Backwards guitars Inoculations coming and going In places of worship We made space for aleatory Sub-committees Asking officials not what 24 Boxes are for But what boxes Are about We swapped out Faces for facializations In a swarm our closest friends Were oblique And everywhere in approaching