M i c h a e l   R o t h e n b e r g

 

E L E P H A N T S 

Within one hour the phone will ring
Begin tomorrow. If we're giving explanations
Then we're hats off
to the Emperors of Professionalism
in a colony of rodents gnawing a rope
hanging from the inside of a gold nipple cupola
hanging from there until the Director
instructs the Poet to give up the habit
and cut the vermin down
So we can all get on with our science
After all, that's what science is meant for

*

Olson was a great talker
Lyrics under-rated
Ponderous Gloucester yammering
Poundian absurdiana amounted
mountains of speed pills, alcohol
When his liver gave out
Whalen said he found himself crying
big tears, unaccountably
Crying there, then finished his pork noodles

*

Sourdough Mountain Lookout still standing in summer snow
Letters between Snyder, Whalen, Kerouac
And path to that Dharma Trail or Poet's Trail

*

They could trace the appearance of asterisks in his work
with the concurrence of elephants bathing
and fortune cookies that promise things
we've always wanted, would be received. Patience
will get us all we want. Ten numbers to bet on
Lotto. There's no money only divine appreciation
of mind moving over plate--
black bean sauce, shrimp and long beans
Tea makes the belly warm, should be kept from women
Beer makes a belly bigger

*

She read a poem over the phone
It skipped around, about diphthongs, abstract
Smattered with paraphernalia, medicines
She massaged her nipples
Nodded on Huckleberry Finn and went to sleep

*

And the phone never rang as the hour
rang out it's drizzling remains. All my fears
unfounded by-product of Jewish
upbringing. I'll be loved like a brother
Adored past complaint by a flame crowned dragon
and my own child will remember me as a good guy

*

That duck wears a hat in the rain
Navy surplus poncho. Cane
down worn granite
steps off curb into channel rushing
Strong enough to climb laces, flood stiff foot
That slow walk up to the second floor took 75 years

*

Most of us live in notebooks alone
Some live and keep record in notebooks
Either way the notebooks are put in storage
We lose the pages, unable to correct punctuation or say
what it was we meant the first time or when we said it

12/17/99

 

 

Michael Rothenberg lives in Pacifica, CA. Michael Rothenberg is a poet,
songwriter and publisher of Big Bridge www.bigbridge.org, and co-editor of
JACK Magazine, www.jackmagazine.com. Editor of Overtime, Selected Poems by
Philip Whalen (Penguin Viking, Inc.), he has published several books of poems including 
Nightmare of the Violins, What the Fish Saw and Favorite Songs. He is also the author of 
the novel Punk Rockwell (Tropical Press). The Paris Journals his new book of poems is
out now from Fish Drum, Inc. http://www.fishdrum.com/news.html.

 


 

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