Friday, April 25, 2008

Poem of the Week: Last will & testament by Jose Kozer

Last will & testament

The truth is I only care about words, not every word (I don't care for
the word word, if truth be told) snow isn't a word I
care for (I don't care to be cold, and snow--I mean to
say lyric snow--has become so commonplace) one
less word now: and for the letter n there are others.
A multitude. Nabob, an exotic word--not the least
chance to use it, a sonorous word, but there's an over-
abundance of sonorous words, we can discard it:
what's left? The fugitive image of any word, lack-
ing an image leaves a concept (leaping inside us) it
crumbles: in truth I care not at all for the word noth-
ing, abstractions leave me limp with boredom, tepid
tepid abstractions: I want to see and touch (above
all touch); I want to sniff the spoor of the word buck-
wheat, my god, how many combinations: the words
are mill-stones turning; whatever word a mill vane
broken into syllables; and at the edge the dying,
what does it say. Marah, marah: is that what it says?
I listen closely, nothing but interference; and I taste,
I crush a stem of purslane against my palate, but it
clarifies or tells me nothing now: here on the edge,
manna, masquerade are the remaining words, back-
ward, or forward to this place, at the edge: what, to
what to speak with words: listen to me, the bread
that I've put on the table parts, down to the center
of its husk, brings forth ash (ants brought forth once
more): and then, what. Things are obscured by so
much thought, classification and description, de-
scription doesn't bring the chameleon back to the
chameleon, doesn't bring back the mother, doesn't
bring anything back to us, let's clear the way for the
jacaranda of this life, I am homet (the lizard): noth-
ing. A green thing that lost its tail. The masquerade
of her whose veil is dropped, see the face's skull,
the body's bones, skin of golgotha peeled away now:
the donnybrook I was once, now I sit down and slide
inwards: outside a lovely day. Euphrates. Much dis-
tance. A god of nickle or zinc can't cope with people,
nitrogen has been enough to keep me alive. Spuri-
ous, but alive. With some or another word but not
with every word. The word capuli tells me nothing,
it has nothing to do with me; dying, for instance, I
can't adjust to its destiny: nor, finally, to the dictio-
nary--too vast. At the final moment any word will
do; linen, for instance, at that moment: the ark on
one's shoulder, bread on the table, hand on head,
and at the head's point of transcendence, be it the
word wheatfield that I hear, for instance, in the yel-
low crossing of axles: or be it bread, by omission.
And might I see made whole all crumbled things.

from Stet, selected poems by Jose Kozer, translated by Mark Weiss, Junction Press

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