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Poetry

from you are everything you are not

From—
Dialogue XL

a wandering word

 

*



they love the tree & hate the fruit,
or they love the fruit & hate its tree.
the found noun become a sovereign,
this beginning born into remembering
& forgetting.



*



figures of syllables & parable
pause between words.



*



thanks, man.



*



characters of speech traipse
in cups of wine
& loaves of bread.



*



what you find is not a ghost but a blooded
song.

—now we too have passed thru the place they paused in the book.



*



each has to tell of their own
birth & death.

—an island that once harbored us before we began.



*



482 A.D.
the general tells a story of a temple’s
burning over 1500 years ago. among deaf trees
a boy squinting
one-eyed, the elders all merging in our vanishing.
the lines on a piece of paper.

(until he eyed her by the circus master’s grave.)
until we meet again, yes.



*



still, quiet sky, waves, still,
remembering of water as it
remembers itself.



*



not knowing a small wave in the middle of seeing.



*



i want to learn something from you,
the girl says:
why did you become a monk anyway?
were you just bored?



*



i am not afraid of your death, she says.
you are now written here.



*



when you were dead these were fragments
of bird & word left from the sky,
the boy tells her.



*



small sufi village near where
the mute one lived as a child now

ashore
by byzantine ruins & lycian burial grounds.

pointing his nose out behind a rock face,

the circus man begins to talk.



*



how to live—
all eyes on all things inside messenger fields.



*



and so the story goes on and leaves you.
i see no one or one thing, she says.



*



the slow growth & change of rite & religious dogma—
& shade of a homeless
man squatting under bridge over there
surrounded by motorcycles & rickshaws.

these fires burning in rice &
the end of the question of birth & death,
a language of the unspoken,
black water eddies along shore.



*



that’s manjushri, the girl salutes, hand
over hand over mouth over hand,
an alphabet without desire.



*



that you are living in a question brought the shadow grass, my diary & all lost in war,
awaiting a flurry of epistles,
in fishing nets cast over shore.



*


Contributor

John High

JOHN HIGH is the author of numerous books. His poems have most recently appeared in Poems by Sunday, Poetry Northwest, Brooklyn Paramount, and New American Writing; his translations of Osip Mandelstam have appeared in The Nation, Denver Quarterly, Pen America, and Poetry, among others. The poems printed here are from a new collection from Talisman House, you are everything you are not (the third book in a trilogy). He teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program at LIU, Brooklyn.

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The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2014

All Issues