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Body of Insomnia (Translations)

Conflicting Desire

Houseboat on the Styx

Rest on the Flight Into Egypt

The Ruined Cottage



For more Poets
A.F. Moritz A.F. Moritz


The summer gathers fire again and breathes
after the choke in the wet heat. You could
all of a sudden drop down dead on your way home
in the midst of your so, your sun-apparent vigor.
You've been evil, never kind, to the ones you know.
Poor, you've hidden from them in your guilt house
of not possessing what you say they want,
when what they wanted was to touch. You'll be kind
immediately, as soon as you can reach them,
tomorrow. But you can't move and they're not here
and in the meantime what to do with this instant,
since in the next one you might drop down dead.
Some are informed, they say, by fear. But to you
it's not clear, it's still not clear, it's never clear.
Maybe believe blind panic is a prayer.

The Background: Mastectomy

Lucky one, the worst injustice you
are victim of, that life hates life
and you have to choose between them. Your breasts
are suddenly the opposite color of human flesh, that tone
called pit, or freedom. Freedom
for which fire became man,
said the sad sage with the smoke signal of his
unconsummated burning. Looking at you I
was understanding that all prayers were for injustice:
Give me a way to work, meaning, Part the crowd.
Part me the crowd in the terminal ward,
in the academy part it,
and at the trough my part,
the part of the whole,
the cylinder of water that walks over the land
undrunk, crystalline, revolving, free,
and by the sheer pure drunken power of synecdoche
creates me the container that cannot exist,
the glass to shape me shapely and forever
let me be seen and see.

Essay on the Guilty

Guilt is continually sponged off
and this is the action, evidence and presence
of God. We think of the infant as clean
and need to know it as cleanliness so satire
can reconceive it as an engine
of shit and mephitis, of soul-destroying
and infinitely nonprogressive undialectical howls.
If satire did not have the infantile cleanness
to break its heart on, the purity ever renewed
despite all stuprafaction, the feckless
body lighter than spirit
despite all vituperation and reduction,
if satire were not perpetually defeated,
she would suicide, despising self
and victory. And then we would be alone
wholly and without satire
how could we live? So guilt
is continually sponged off and this is God's
providence, and the fecal wrung-out water
is the part of it all that chose you, O proclaimer of guilt.

What Glandular City

Nervrose, you're spending life
as you wanted to and still you hate it.
Passing by rare green blades hyphenated in mud,
and children turned out from the university,
their black or golden hair divided by the comb
into twelve elegant flumes as the cataract
is divided by the hydroelectric dam.

The very word is like a curse
to knell me from treetop to sole
with angelus pigeons. Three chronometrically cured oak leaves,
dirty gold, clack together, persistent marching
into April. And my traditional betrayal of the verses of air.
My cool longing to be warm. Also the lithe
young squatting of a dog.

Sole and solar nudity.
Lazy regurgitations of long digested thought.
Tintern Abbey in the cracks.
Groined shadow no campanile casts.
Breeze, reminisce, cold breeze, hot star,
and brow unbent, burnt. What glandular city
throws out and up, mist mask the size of a blink on an azure face,
you founded on tired revolving.


Through the infinite limits of the night in ruins
goes the loud mumbler with only his sound—
his sounds but they're all one. He has a theory

unbeknownst to himself, or a theory has him,
that the production of syllables is a sort of eminence
level with the unbelievably flat terrain, and their disconnect

is gospel. He preaches the whoredom of the cunt and castration
for all the inventors of words and of the chains
that gang them to efficacy along crumbled roads.

He wants to invent all this. He wishes it were still
only a tar pit and a jail of twitching bodies,
to be released cell by cell as a fertile chaos, not living

and undead, too complex and self-repetitive to be
intelligent. The women sniff him suspiciously:
the same old obsessive hatred of their sex,

flattering but lethal. And me too: I smell his loneliness
and feel the winged knife flying this way with two dripping
chunks of flesh in its claws: he wants to bore me

the hole I don't have. How right to shake my head
and it all disappears, I'm wondering again
why dandelions burn so terribly and cool on the ragged slope

with its one wild apple tree. I'm five years old
and soon will acquire pity for the happy processions I hate
at plant gates, on perfect roads. But now it's right

to go back, taking my wife along, to naked five
in the fiery dandelion shade, the unaccountable
child impotence, seed of our present excitement.

Returning from Wallace Stevens

I found a great black beetle on the sidewalk
struggling overturned, and righted it,
and set it in a flowerbed, where it hurried on
blindly from my point of view to further adventure.

And this brief story that seems to be a salvific
meaning recommended, a memorial of a sentiment,
self-exculpation and self-praise, is in reality
a way of mentioning the great black beetle,

the one way the mouth can handle it, which in no other
may be kissed or tasted. It might seem unnecessary
to approach the black sun like this, since it comes near
automatically, and I would have to recall each point

on the way to know if my approximation is pure error
or the more likely dither. Meanwhile, no longer content
with philosophy, others do social research, collecting
opinions from forms, pure spirits, horizons, and omega points,

to determine accurately just exactly what is unknown.
They haven't found if the black beetle finally escaped
any more than I did, but so please mindless spring,
master of coincidences, she and I may meet again.