Spine To Spin, Spoke To Speak

Editor’s Note: To celebrate National Poetry Month, we are sampling some of the wonderful work published by small presses that focus on poetry. Each week throughout April, we’ll feature poems from a different press. This week, we offer selections from City Lights. Founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti not long after the famed San Francisco bookstore City Lights Books opened in 1953, City Lights Publishing has made a tradition of celebrating new and emerging voices -- and has always maintained a special bond with readers of poetry (perhaps their most widely read volume is their Pocket Poets edition of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl), and cherished its roots among Beats and other champions of the counterculture.

 

We begin the week with Andrew Joron's "Spine To Spin, Spoke To Speak," from Trance Archive: New & Selected Poems, released this month from City Lights.

 

Next week, we’ll be presenting suites of poems from Graywolf Press.

 

 

 

Spine To Spin, Spoke To Speak

 

 

The pilot alone knows

That the plot is missing its

Eye.

 

Why isn’t this "ominous science"

   itself afraid, a frayed

Identity?

 

Pray, protagonist —

Prey to this series of staggered instants.

 

Here the optic

Paints its hole, its self-consuming moment.

It is speech, dispelled, that

   begs to begin to ache.

 

So that wind accelerates to wound, a dead sound

   enlivened by the visitation of owls.

 

As pallid as parallel, the cry

Of the negative is not the negative

   of the cry — an irreparable blessing —

 

A green world’s

   "sibilant shadows" where

The syllables of your name are growing younger.

 

As involuntary as involuted, "who"  

   returns its noun

   to each tender branch

That noon breaks into no one.

 

Point of view

Hovers, a circular cloud, over evacuated

Time.

 

That heard its herd bellow below

   the terraced cities, the milled millions

 

   as sold as unsouled, ghost-cargos.

 

A symptom of the Maddening —

Woman undressed of her flesh.

Man’s address

   to Thou, & the flag of Thou.

 

How the fallen state

Meets the starry horizon, veil

   against witness, hunger against void.

 

O, oldest

   outermost Other —

 

Ageing mask

Of the transparent Earth. Unspeculated

   image

Streaked with mirror & stricken words.

 

You are neither the torn, nor the thorn.

 

You are the many-petalled

   melting point of repeating decimals. . .

 

Receiver, river

Has been burned into voice, a day-dark ribbon.

 

All signal is this

Single.

 

 

Andrew Joron, "Spine To Spin, Spoke To Speak" from Trance Archive: New & Selected Poems © 2010 by Andrew Joron. Reprinted with the permission of City Lights Books, San Francisco, California. www.citylights.com

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.