“Homeboy Nomad” by Stephen Kessler

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


Stephen Kessler: “Pierre and I were student poets together at Bard in the late 1960s and our paths had crossed just once since then when we met again last fall in Las Vegas as translator colleagues at ALTA where he gave me a copy of his book A Nomad Poetics, to which ‘Homeboy Nomad’ is my response.” (web)

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