Friday, February 06, 2009


...I drank wine
of immoral bouquet: sea foam,
midday drizzle, ash of poppies, copperas,
mustard. Then I stopped arriving
and the eye-burn
stopped happening.
--from "Immigrant"

Diamond brilliance is measured by Return of Light.... Return of light is the amount of light returned through the top of the diamond and directed at the beholder.
--Leo Schachter

When I published Barry Schwabsky's first book OPERA: POEMS 1981-2002, I always knew that OPERA was just an opening. Publishing OPERA was a unique experience -- without diminishing its marvels, I concede that I felt releasing OPERA was also a condition precedent for keying open the door into something else: I thought Barry had a certain future book in him and I wanted to see it. That it has happened ("Praise the Lord!") and, viz Brooklyn Rail/Black Square Editions, it is

book left open in the rain

It is early February and I suspect this will be one of my favorite reads of the year. Probably, ever. The poems are so breathtakingly beautiful it hurts to feel them (suddenly, as the banal-ridden poet proffers, It hurts to feel). From "DIARY OF A POEM",
she loves the sound of breaking chains

as in this excerpt from "ways to make a man feel like an unemployed hearse driver who had had a little trouble with the higher powers" (first published by Kevin Killian's/Dodie Bellamy's Mirage#4 Period(ical)), with John Williams' "Cavatina" from Warning Guitar the perfect background for typing:

Fertility and other stories told
in once-contracted eyes now dilate

in the shadows of a shadow
where closer music listens in

to strangely muddled colors
wet a page left intentionally blank

with something half past endless.
Pleasure? To be continued:

Cut. The trouble with being
is not wanting to until

we hear the children listen hard
to stuttered music. A face breaks

into private laughter. Ask my
bones if they can please you.


Behind brushed hair catch a whiff
of possible futures. Belly yours.

Again. Mouth open sky.
Again. Wet fingers wet corners

of a page left intentionally blank.
Is this your body? Membrane

soaked with almosts. Delicious
blood or an eye unstuck. Begin

generic shadow weather,
Mrs. Blue Skies -- translationese

for music pushed through blown
speakers. Slow-burning when I do you

this ode to distraction, invisible
and certified real as the day.


Once, I lived for a year in a penthouse apartment in New York City. Each night, the views out of the windows presented city lights. Miles' Seven Steps to Heaven emanating from the computer speakers encourage me to recall how I could feel hands lengthen to penetrate glass and start plucking from the city skyline to form a diamond necklace. Barry Schwabsky's book left open in the rain is that same necklace -- to wear it is to feel ice burn flesh; with no reservations, I wear it. These poems should lie (pun intended) attached to unarmored skin.

Withdrawn like a god fed on lilies
crossing over into myself
in breath stained with images
I'll take time to tell the truth

that day scatters, night collects
crickets creak like used-up thoughts
between facing
mirrors light spreads wings


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