The Brooklyn Rail

MARCH 2022

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MARCH 2022 Issue


"Ask me not of moons..."

Ask me not of moons
unless you can hand me Jupiter on a salver
It’s a matter of size and gravity
Earth, one moon, fittingly so;
Jupiter, my god the size of it!
7 moons; figures, eh what?

If you wish it
you can tell me about Alpha Centauri;
(Proxima Centauri) I guess that planet
as well as Beta Centauri, are planets
that belong to our closest galaxy
Andromeda…You know it:
It’s an angled spiral with two big stars by it –
I don’t care how big and plentiful
the megagalaxy is, the entire cosmos;
it’s still finite –
In the Absolute all that isn’t is infinite –
There’s always more of that which isn’t
than that which is –

It will come what came before
Though nothing of it shall return
Replacements of the masters are masked
The Anti ones are the true ones
Beware the mask beneath the face
Smiles have nothing to do with sincerity
Sincerity is a most untrustworthy word –
Like: What are you sincere about?

Hope fills the flagon of the Future
The Celt Man Of Years drank his fill

The torc’d man was Dorian man
His was Greece & Magna Græcia

Etruria man was Eastern man
His was Rome; Britannia was his return home

Time passes in its arrival
Anchored to the Present

Space expands in its departure
Vacuuming the Past with anticipation



piercing my side

twisting rib of adam


showing itself to be a horror

of glazed spirit

in purest sullied form

overlarge orb

yellowed about the pupil

blinking rhythmic devil swell

spitefully rifle-eyeing

mewing beasts w/ souls


"Forces of Nature that destroy man..."

Forces of Nature that destroy man

Avalanches, tornadoes, hurricane, earthquakes;

frenzied fire, squalls, el niño, cyclones—

novas, supernovas, black holes, quasars;

cosmos, mega-cosmos, all that exists in outer space,

are but finite—

All that opposes this finity is infinite;

there is more that is not than what is—

were the cosmos megagalactic wholly,

there’d be no room for expansion,

and the universe is ever expanding

My friends who have recently died

in dreams I see again

I know they will witness the foul air, the scum waters,

the toxic air— earth ill, moribund, dead,

left to rot; the place of repair, burned down—

the rottage in time and sloth

will leave the blue globe dusty like a mummy;

volcanoes will vomit no longer but excrete—

The Mediterranean will return to the Mediterranean Basin;

The great savannahs of the Pacific and Atlantic—

Gone the whale, larger than any dinosaur—

Gone human kind, the lemur too—

Then as before in the great infinite void

a finite dot of life shall explode

Don’t ever ever tell me

“get with it”

I, your eye opener—

Keep your eye dead center;

breathe my breath

I gave you a fire

you’ve yet to understand—

That’s why you’re all dying

after years of berating me as a know-nothing

at long last you learned I knew too damned well—

It’s frightening, I held my hands in prayer up to you!

The smart lumpen took your words

and you died on the donkey herds—

"prepare for a dismissal of sorts..."

prepare for a dismissal of sorts
missaled & hymned
through all my books
& personal phantom pages
coffee stained
herbal eyed
fallow for the new thing
I am pushed far enough
coldly striped enough
nails long
beard be song
never knew the ease of the end
like this could be
enough of a gag to all along smoke
cinder stint—
blighted eyes gagged


"There it was sitting across from me..."

There it was sitting across from me

on the edge of the bed

its feet never touching the floor

I never questioned it; just stared at it;

that’s all, just stared—

Whose room it was I had no idea

Must have belonged to it

because as an orphan

I never had my own room—

Nor did it speak to me,

it sat there, like me;

staring, saying nothing—

It has hands, eyes, a face,

body, and all, don’t know about brain;

I mean I can dangle a puppet before it,

its eyes follow, but doesn’t reach out—

Someday I’ll speak, but I see no ears;

maybe it plays on vibrations—

Everything it wears is green;

One day I dangled a green thing at it

…behold! It grabbed it—

It didn’t give it back; instead it ate it—

Songs hit hard as icy snowballs

Big dreams are living proof of broken hearts

Love and survival run through hospital halls

like blithe departures of death marking the charts

In time the face you’ll get all at once

shall example the Talmud’s Sibylline words of old

—Not until your 40th year of wisdom shall the dunce

flip off his cap and see the face ere its mold


Gregory Corso

Gregory Corso (1930-2001) was a founding member of the Beat Generation, and for over fifty years one of America's most popular and beloved poets. He was the author of over a dozen books of poetry and one novel, in addition to posthumously published collections of plays, interviews, and correspondence. These unpublished poems will appear later this year in The Golden Dot: Last Poems, 1997-2000, edited by Raymond Foye and George Scrivani, published by Lithic Press.


The Brooklyn Rail

MARCH 2022

All Issues