small poems in prose [alejandra pizarnik]

The sun closed, the sense of the sun closed, the sense of the closing was illuminated.

*

A day arrives in which poetry is made without language, day in which the great and small desires scattered in the verses are called together, suddenly gathered in two eyes, the same ones I praised so much in the frantic absence of the blank page.

*

In love with the words that create small nights in the uncreated part of day and its fierce emptiness.

 

[Alejandra Pizarnik, Texts of Shadow and Last Poems (1982)]

(The Unstoppable Myth of Alejandra Pizarnik by Enrique Vila-Matas)

when spirits decide

the planchette inscribed
ovals on the board

stay or go
we had asked

a reply of stay
led to a why

ovals came back
first spelled out
then drawn
over and over and over.

spatial divide

Black sky of crows crowns mornings, bookends to nights of ferocious dream violence

[can an empty space feel occupiedbe occupiedwith no bodies present]

Jackal fear circles, breathing hidden threat-breath, by unknown summons

[can shadows of bodies, once (they have) / left, still linger, filling space once occupied]

Inside, a wavy line descends, evens out, climbs a steep peakteetersdeclines again

[two containersone infinite, one finitehold space—connecting valves open and shut to control in/voluntary flow—allowance for expansion / contraction]

Outside, surrounding spaceunbrokenlimbs recede at the height of uncertainty

(11-12.14 / 7.17)

Moment death–
each day a thousandfold.
From atop the promontory:
Ahoy! The headwind wakes.

Connections cleave–
backwind pushes us.
I cannot stop it.
I cannot step into it.

Clinging tendrils,
even unthought-of,
gulliver us
to the not-now.

Tripartite refuge limps
on weakened limbs.
Ever-widening eyes
Astigmatized.

strange sea creatures

Strange Sea Creatures

Erased from “Strange Sea Creatures,” in Pleasant Ways in Science, by Richard A. Proctor. New York: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1905. Courtesy of Project Gutenberg. [click to enlarge]

so-called fabulous animals
the merman, zoologically possible, of course,
the unicorn, the dragon, the centaur,
the minotaur, the winged horse,
recognized as known forms.

the sea has been misunderstood,
land cannot long escape.
the most powerful and ferocious beasts struggle.
savage man must be killed
and the true appearance of the animal determined.

powerful winged animals remain mysterious,
a mighty bird might swoop down and disappear.
from time to time the strange winged monster
would be seen hovering.

savage races of man, animals now extinct.
power of the winged enemy,
sea creatures monstrous.
we remain ignorant.

hidden beneath the waves
creatures of the deep sea expose themselves,
men counter-attack.
great sea creatures, monsters of the deep
seen only for a few moments,
sinking back into the depths, a mystery.

repetition of the story
the creature, its true nature recognized.
understand then the fabulous creatures,
remarkable, the monsters of the deep sea,
understand the truth.

ghost cats of Delverne

ghost cats of Delverne
from their hilly perches stare
white sentries above

excerpt from alejandra pizarnik’s diary

Empty happiness. I spent the day reading poems. Trying to learn the technique, in a miserly and premeditated manner. Sometimes it makes me nostalgic to think of children, for whom every action is play. For me, to read poems is work, a great effort. To manage to focus my attention on other people’s words and feelings is a battle against myself. I made two poems. And yesterday another two. I think I won’t ever be able to make a novel, because I’ve nothing to tell in many pages, and even if I had something to tell, but no, I’ve nothing to tell.

Read more at Music & Literature (found via The Blog of Disquiet)

See also: Extracting the Stone of Madness, Pizarnik’s first full-length collection of poetry in English, which was just published this week by New Directions.

a man of riverbanks

I am a man of riverbanks—excavation and inflammation—since it isn’t always possible to be a man of torrents.

René Char, Leaves of Hypnos

always red and black

i returned
to the rocks
where i picked
one up to find
a snake coiled
in red and black

(sleeping it was
as i am now)

up above i flew
circled around
where from the air
i saw the snake
wake and slither off

the next night
i found tiny snakes
wrapped around my wrist
and as i pulled them off
they inserted fangs
beneath the skin

the pain was great
but i kept at it
as did they
until i’m not sure
if i blacked out

the wing of sleep by roger gilbert-lecomte*

The Wing of Sleep

He waded all the way back up life’s stream
And came out the other side
Lost where others wander not yet born

He dreamt he was dreaming
Changing planets
Sleeping only to awake over and over
To the block of blood ticking in his head

Plunging in an ever deeper sleep

Awaking in depths of light unmeasured
Yet closer to that blaze
Plunged in the mortal deep of shadow

His bed a sumptuous cradle whose plumed head
Rocked him
Then froze into the lintel
Of a tomb

His dead eyes the wing of the enchanter sleep
Brushed to glittering life
Then rubbed out

Into so total a revulsion
Their lids
Squinched up like spleen-envenomed lips

He felt himself expand becoming the sky
Making fair weather and foul while dispensing rainbows

As the mills of space crushed
And flattened him like a shadow…

(to be continued)

*tr. David Rattray

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