Don’t focus, ju…


Don’t focus, just click dear Kodak,
The eye is a lens in a bird at a banquet
And not a piece of glass. More light and shade!
More! More!
The retina is hungry

Osip Mandelstam


Cento – a literary mix tape

For those who don’t know, a cento is a sort of mix tape. A compiling of lines from one poet or various poets put together. Traditionally centos rhyme, but since a) I don’t really rhyme much of the time (ha) and b) I don’t read poets who rhyme, mine don’t. So here is the first of them. This is from the works of Osip Mandelstam:

This life is terrifying for the two of us:

The villager’s horse stumbles,

A familiar hello thunders at the door,

An oppressive darkness gargles,

The night has swallowed up the spiny sticklebacks.

Now Zeus with the golden fingers

Has gone a little hoarse.

It seems that he was shy of dying

For the swollen lips, and for the tight embrace

The painter has portrayed for us:

The dishevelment of space,

The meaning of light.

You lie far over the mountain,

Unknown to anyone,

Holding octagonal honeycombs in your hands.

An inexpressible sadness

Stirs from long sleep across the rough haycocks.

The centuries surround me with fire,

Sounds, tears and toil,

Dresses and blouses of butterfly

And the sensible purple inks

I see before me.

Editing poetry: the pillow book

she is naked
except for a red ribbon
twirled around her wrist
and ink
in circles

around her ankles
Rilke spirals
she arches into the umlaut
l e n g t h e n s and tenses
like the swan’s anxious letting himself down
the brush relaxes against flesh

Carson crosses her uncovered arms
curved calligraphy
soothing the hard lines
she angles her head
to read
the roses were on fire
her dark hair
tied into droplets
splashing against her shoulders

on the stomach’s soft palette
Cohen and Plath
sear black into colour
force out small breaths
she curls her back
the words writhe, contort
need the PLEASURE in my spine

Borges and Neruda
duel for her hips’
pale meander
complete and radiant,
sealed by fire

a dark warmth like opium

filling the gaps between lines
crosses one cheek
he whines like a shutter
the retina is hungry
and her eyes are the darkness of Voronezh
along her spine
tightly lettered
spaced by her motion
He . looks . thro.  ugh .   the .   exqu.    isite .   binoc.  ulars .of

he is tracing the meaning
of the word circuitous
on her flesh
with one finger
like lazy jazz
saving his own words
sparing her thighs any brushstroke
because some words
are simply ribbons