October 3, 2010

Stephen Kessler

                for Pierre Joris

Sometimes I feel
                like a motherless
                                tongue, an untongue-
tied motherfucker un-
                able to lick the but-
                                ton of my love mere-
ly monolingually but
                must multiply my
                                moves to include all
the landscapes my
                restless lips have tra-
                                versed in the course of
roaming so many worlds
                I can’t recall, record,
                                remember, recount or re-
collect them all, a
                long blur in my back-
                                ground which obscures
my ever questionable
                origins because after
                                all where was I any-
way when speech first
                struck me like a lash
                                across my voracious,
my insatiable mouth, my
                mind, my maw that
                                sucks in everything
in sight only to trans-
                late it later into un-
                                speakably conceptual
yet loud sounds, like air-
                craft landing on far-
                                flung runways or air
conditioners humming
                in the depths of hotels
                                where multilingual
scholars & miscellaneous
                scoundrels rendezvous
                                in momentarily shared
weltanschauungs to sip
                martinis and hope
                                to seduce each other
while exchanging recipes
                for revelation, as if
                                the sudden sight of
ancient schoolmates
                were not enough to set
                                poems homelessly in
motion in pursuit of
                what was missed in the
                                interim, attempting to
trace that unmistakable
                outline of aged profiles
                                whose uncommon ambitions
have branched like
                the lines on old maps,
                                rivers & roads that
changed as they flowed
                & unrolled into worlds
                                their respective travelers
scarcely foresaw when
                they set out but now,
                                in turned-back time,
have ripened &
                dropped like sweet
                                fruit into the mouths
of eloquent orphans
                who savor every last

from Rattle #24, Winter 2005

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