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Authors: Ann Lauterbach

Tags: #Poetry, #American, #General

Under the Sign (8 page)

BOOK: Under the Sign
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City of words

rotunda and desert wanderer

         climb the absence

               follow this simple curve into the footprint

                       or find indifference   a shelter

     as if lost within a cave


                     within the merry leafy compost

city of words

           ideal translation and misfortune

                   to hesitate at the sequel to traipse backward onto the


             stunted underfoot to wait until the sugar dissolves

                             until the rat's nose upends a leaf

                                       seeing as the windows are shut

                         the heads are mounted on rose hips and thorns

                                       prayer is spoken into the dark

city of words

bring the ruin to its proper place among nouns

open its mouth   peer into the rosy throat

                     surely not a new day


her name is common

           she walks along the fibrous tissues and sticks

               recalls the fictive cause to save to go back to align

to dwell among first attributes of space

but what are these?

Hasty dim angels.

Are they above, below?

Beautiful plural sloping toward duration.



Restive valley/lucidity non-Olympic
squalor of the mundane

ushered, foiled, never golden/blessings un-
told/missed under the standing muscular artifact

she invoked/did not remain the studio scold
lover in negative shield

fled volition's study if to lie down if to hear
eyes assaulted so to sting

mouth on top of mouth in the hinged vernacular
thought's respite or

arrested in flight. Tact and the cradle jammed
an indecipherable setting across ligatures

of care. Patience and the cloth elbow of a monk
scribe to the half-life of angels/quick

fluidity of names/incantation waits for veracity
if to be sure is to be otherwise among stones

everything undone/inertial tread along
a patriotic map of stars. Voice into hole.

Voice stares not into anything seen but lifts
harmonic for glue in the dark

hot chapel under the patterned glass
and came here with a root in mind.


Came flustered with concision, mother's
child face in copied blue her

skeptical smile out of hearing out
of hearing in view or Stacy's

inner ear stares into Lucretius:
atoms for Venus, roses for the lascivious

Miss Stein. Mother at the side of the
carriage/sister Alice

within earshot, smiling infant, smiling
love of the one smiling

back and Will said something about love
and I eyed his mouth and he said

what's the use? Mother
may have asked the question within

earshot like that dog. I like the middle voice.
The gesture could be simple

not exhausted not vestigial not a painter's
despair in the purple cowl of the monk's robe

in the elegant gallery shoes leaving shortly
for vacation in a small town in France

to read Edward Said writing on Genet
missing voice among many these voices

what is possible/to be
belated among the last ditch

of experience as sound among thieves
restless articulations of this time.

“Noises from the depths,” Deleuze remarks,
“become voices when they find in certain

perforated surfaces (the mouth) the
conditions of their articulation.”


I like the cast of the crisscrossed fence pattern
on the driveway. Shadows belong to footage.

Everything belongs to something else.
The gesture/although I wish I were walking uphill

is to open the hand. I repeat:
open your hand.
This to indicate, to sign, suggest

you are willing to give up holding on
or keeping or really in any way

imagining that you possess
anything. There's light on the wires.

The green is heavily green. August adds
weight to green. Walking uphill

with a friend I said
opening the hand
, in response

asking the degree to which
to interfere with or keep kempt

nature in relation to the path
we were following, the surrounding field.

Ann Hamilton and I made a video
when I was in Columbus, Ohio,

visiting/a video of my hand
enacting or rather accompanying

a reading taken from Emerson's essay
“Circles,” in which, it seemed to me,

is a frequently repeated
soundscape. I don't think

but then I don't know
if Emerson thought about these

s, but
I felt or feel sure that

writers, some writers, respond
to different registers

of sense possibility. Perhaps this
observation goes without saying

but having said it
I will let it stand not exactly as

a statue or statute, but as a bringing
forth into the space of hearing

obvious or given acknowledgment
that sound conjures itself into

or while seeing what you say.
Here reminded of Lisa Robertson's

essay, in her book
called “Lastingness,” in which she

cites Jean Starobinski's citing Saussure's
idea of a “phonic matrix” in classical Latin

poems, finding “mannekins,” isolated
“theme-words whose uttered sounds were

hidden, and sometimes scrambled, beneath
the overt textual semantics—a material substrata

of encoded sound.” I don't think finding
repeated O sounds in Emerson's “Circles”

qualifies but it might be a vestigial
trace of this complex arena of sound sense

which I think in the new technological
dispensation is falling away from our shared

calling. “Let's listen to music,” one girl says
to another, in affectlessness. Vacuity

or vestige of the gesture
caught between Venus and Hercules,

promise of the black elision, so to assert
a search that is made

through art-making does not have the
clarity of an ideogram
unquote, a problem of

naming in relation to image
in the landscape or space, horizon erased

or transposed onto disembodied geometry's
bright techno-superstructure, so to ask

What is it?
only a positive sign of lack
in the architecture's ultimate

immobility, the inertia of the material
So then to desire

a general unframing, passage into the arc
of the kite, to get beyond the finality of

presets, to caress the air, as the difference
between material effects and material meanings.

All the singular figures
in motion, not touching, a pattern of trust

away from the broken authority
of the hierarchical, away from the one.

to Michael Ives




forms             nowhere


                          of forms.

One of now

admits of being outdone.


no end in nature

a lower opens the moral fact

of the around.


                  Our globe holds


left in cold


for all that is old.

An old planet of the forgoing

                                                    the old roads.

You admire this tower, so

being narrowly lost

a gold mine or

more of the crop.

Moons are no more

bounds he obeys, be reformed


commands his own

                  evolving circle

from a ring             larger circles, of circles,

will go       on the force

of the individual soul.

For having formed

a circular wave of a local usage, if the soul

                                                                  over orbit


also outward a vast force

                                                  to disclose itself.

There is no outside, no inclosing

                                        how lo!

                  on the other

a circle around the circle


To draw a circle outside


as prophecies of its innocency

on the divine soul, otherwise.

The last closet was never opened: a residuum unknown.

Our moods do not       other

                                                          a vast flow!

                                Choirs of his friends

game of idolatry       I know and worth

noble but


We sell the thrones

a great hope, found his shores, found it a pond, Plato going


opinions we can never go

a conflagration has broken out, and no

man knows.


the power of self-recovery       so as

the magnet once a toy.



efflux of goodness so         conversation

is a game of circles             conversation

bound the common of

stooping under the old

the cloven

flame glows on our walls

oppression, to oppress, to recover our

O         only

in orbs, the announcement

in common hours, society sits cold

knowing but prose and trivial toys


loomed so large in the fog's proportions

no words would be necessary no

a point outside

our hodiernal       circle

in Roman houses

diameter of the earth's orbit

the poet

in the encyclopedia           or the     or the   body

my old steps, and reform.

Ariosto writes me an ode arouses

tones my whole

open to the sides of all the solid old

lumber of the world

from a boat in the pond

against the dogmatism of bigots with this

word out of the book

of concentric circles   dislocations

manifold           other words explored

gravity of atoms

or the goods

gravitate to you   also

omnipresence       of the soul behooves

he devotes a winged chariot

draws on his boots to go through the woods lowest

to the verge of our orbit.

The poor and the low           be nothing

O broker no

though slower notes

does he owe

to be postponed

no virtue virtues of society.

The terror of reform

grosser moments that they abolish our           also

no longer reckon lost time no longer

poorly these moments


nothing of

O circular philosopher by beholding

into every hole

left open, my own and obey.

No facts

                      no Past progression

the soul of circles       knowledge     contains all circles

no sleep, no pause

abhors the old and old age

only it by many forms of old age no

grow old, but grow to know

their hope organs of the Holy Ghost with hope

and this old age

the coming       only is sacred.

No love can be bound by oath

or covenant

no truth so.                                       People only

                                  any hope for them

total growths of the soul

I can know can have no guess for

so the sole

of so to know

the new position the powers of the old

moment all my once

hoarded knowledge to know—we do not know

the old and trodden round

a new road and better goals overpowering             or early cloud of so

of our propriety, without knowing

                                             how or of opium

                                                                                oracular of the heart.

Ann Lauterbach was born and grew up in Manhattan, where she studied painting at the High School of Music and Art. She received her B.A. (English) from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and went on to graduate work at Columbia University on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. She lived in London for seven years, working as an editor, teacher, and curator of literary events at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Returning to New York, Lauterbach worked in art galleries for several years. She has taught in the writing programs at Brooklyn College, Columbia, Iowa, City College, and the Graduate Center of CUNY. Lauterbach has had residences at Yaddo, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), the Wexner Museum (Columbus), and the Atlantic Center for the Arts (Orlando). She was a resident critic at the Anderson Ranch in Aspen and, from 2007 to 2011, was a visiting Core Critic (Sculpture) at the Yale School of Art. In 2013 she was named Distinguished Sherry Poet-in-Residence at the University of Chicago. Lauterbach has written essays on artists Joe Brainard, Ann Hamilton, Michael Gregory, and Cheyney Thompson and for the exhibition “Whole Fragment” at the Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery in Reno, Nevada.

Lauterbach has received fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Her 2009 collection,
Or to Begin Again
, was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has been, since 1990, co-chair of Writing in the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts and, since 1997, David and Ruth Schwab Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College. She lives in Germantown, New York.

BOOK: Under the Sign
10.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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