The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2019

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MAR 2019 Issue

The Birds of Marseilles


(Marseilles / Aix En Provence) 10/13-17/17)


1. des danaides > eau non potable

the young girls
 surrounded by fresh cut flowers
pour water into the well   /   the core: a broken heart
  leaks like appetite   stolen watches
 leaning away from the port / his gargoyle face
     a homage to war >
  traduction | margin | signature

seeking old postcards on a brightening afternoon
 lugging AGE around in an old suitcase of flesh
this is like society:
like chickenville > a laboratory for CREDIT villains
 pouring water into a bottomless well
 a superior school for professional EDUCATION \ ambition
   a wide open crowded saturday blvd /
FDR breathes everywhere > the women of the GRAND HOTEL
 carrying camels elephants & dragons
     their nipples hardened against the bright sun
 the flying paddle fish on louvre de la PAIX
  this grandeur now a clothing store for the working class

his grey beard as wrinkled as his pants
 the beggar becomes a money transfer machine
     OPTIQUE > i love you sweet decay


ole Pagnol drank here at BAR LA MARINE
    wrote his stories near by made his films
 we are all lovers of stone
   & tourist trains that toot around the port
  piles of rotting tires salvaged from the depths
     rusted shopping carts & bikes
    & pudgy divers pulling off their suits
   after a brave day’s work
     we are all lovers of anchored ships
& cafes that face the sea
  & soldiers in camouflage with their BIG GUNS
    that uncomfortably do not blend in
 the well losing its contents as fast as it is filled
 the bird i whistle to each morning as it sits
precariously on the ledge…

   we are all beggars & lunatics
   diving for debris
   lost in the slow motion spectacle
  of drowning

    yawning beggars & lunatics
     bored with their own ambitions
      & obsessions
a dispersal of disappearing poets   emptying into bottomless wells
       & back yards.

3. AIX (for Kamel & Emanuelle)

 EVADE / X / Cezanne is not loved here
  his father’s house in shambles
his studio nearly destroyed until ironically it is saved
   by the germans and americans
Mt. St. Victoire a big  ^ of many colors
 in many seasons -   time’s chiseled statuary
  the AIRE of Provence present everywhere
   angular conception of an old wreck
still life the painter can be indoors & out
  a solitary creat(or)ure

we swim in its yellow on the highway like lost christians
 from the long distant past / poles between extremes
 encumbrance / he says it’s the line Cezanne > sharp edged
  eliminated the line >
birthed cubism  but they did not understand his intent
  he said many things while she translated
& all our spirits were  full & kindred
     Cezanne removed the contour
 if we close our eyes we see only the touch
  we pluck out the eyes of birds
 to make them sing MORE > obscure LUMIERE
 color totally becomes the form
the line is the source of conflict > looking is a point of view
    one who looks @ ME is looking @ GOD
 distillation of faith > 3 skulls & the humbleness of space
   the books the bowls of fruit the mirror
 bar lot maintenant snack billiard NOW to hold near NOW
the experience of the present is by the HAND not the MIND
the great relationship between painting & blindness
  in aging male painters
(their tension & shattered nerves) le hutoire envoy  avoy
    bruits de monde
one’s memory hidden behind one’s eyes
 his last painting dark his bible open to the story
      of ABRAHAM
   kill the father kill the son
we change our names to our fathers’ & sacrifice ourselves in their name(s)
 the changing stone the barrage of scenery
   the interior of the inheritor it is all there
the foundation of the complete
 & life is stronger than death & death is a part of life
   not the other way around
& the last refuge is this valley surrounding picasso’s castle
 where the mt’s whiteness covers our shoes
 the way lines are broken down into dust
  the way dust contains all that is life
   the way all of life contains death

when i see them look up   i too want to look up
   at the fabrique of stuff
as the vehicle moves on like the last bearded ghost pauper

& we are still here now where we reside within the arrogance of self
   & picasso was the last person in france
      to be buried in his garden
    his back to Mt. St. Victoire

i step away from the balcony
as the sun sets in a window
bright red sun & beautiful soft light
 that  it casts
   & the circling birds stop
 then quietly come to rest on the antennas of AIX
     as the window in Cezanne’s luminous skull
       slowly  darkens.

 4. children of the new revolution (Marseilles)

 fort st. jean > a fortress of stone > a museum
   built of stone > surrounded by rocks
where the sea meets the port >   a view of LE VIEUX PORT
 clear sky   late afternoon
  perfect weather perfect light  LOUIS XIV
where the pigeon shadows its young
 & young lovers are swept away

i make an issue out of things & then things begin to further fall apart
 i fall apart > my heritage is a heavy heart of sickness & suffering
    i am a water tight technical manual
        a freighted soul
  a manufactured dialect to fit into all conversations
& children of the new revolution take on their fathers’ names
   drug dealers replaced by peanut venders
  squeezing the life out of their offspring
squeezing the life out of themselves
  for the sake of freedom or
a handsome boyfriend
 flag’s of faces faces of freedom freedom’s face

      the flags & posters & t-shirts say >
slogans: freedom seems always reduced to slogans
     here asleep on rue de PRISON


she misreads his t-shirt:
    “it’s hand” – tell her over couscous with prunes

i whistle to the bird this last morning
    as it sits
precariously on the ledge        &

the young girls pour water into the well not realizing that it can never be filled.

       - marseilles & aix en provence 10/17


Steve Dalachinsky

Poet/collagist STEVE DALACHINSKY was a long time contributor to the Rail. His book The Final Nite & Other Poems (Ugly Duckling Presse - 2006) won the PEN Oakland National Book Award. His latest CDs are The Fallout of Dreams with Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach (Roguart, 2014), and the book/CD Pretty in the Morning with the French art rock group the Snobs (Bisou Records, 2019). He was a 2014 recipient of a Chevalier de l Ordre des Arts et Lettres. His most recent books include Frozen Heatwave, a collaboration with Yuko Otomo (Luna Bissonte Prods, 2017) and where night and day become one—the french poems (great weather for MEDIA, 2018) which received a 2019 IBPA award in poetry.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2019

All Issues