Menu.gif (11003 bytes)

Michael Rothenberg


           Hear my prayer, O Lord, and
                    give ear unto my cry:
                    Keep not silence at my tears
                    For I am a stranger with Thee,
                    A sojourner, as all my fathers
                         Book Of Psalms, XXXIX, l.13     


"Stop, Pilgrim, your journey has ended!"
A cup of instant coffee mid-afternoon when
the chalice ain't so inviting. . .

Joy, relief from spiritual pain
     Heal lumbago
          transgressions, atoned!

"Be careful for what you ask, you might get it"

Semi-conscious going round and round
     tilting at windmills
          lance dragging a circular path

on violet ground
      coming upon my shadow

"Hurry, there's a city to cross
               destiny manifest!"

I'm going to meet the poet on Hartford St.
Look over his works
Compile them into a book of how many hours
     I don't know, but patience leads
                         I follow. . .


Patience: solitaire
     trials and pains without complaint
     (refraining from enforcement of
                    something that is due)

Saint Patience
     she lives with hidden desires

Pots and pans make a racket
                    on kitchen tiles
Crayon glyphs
      on shower stall door and teak furniture

Bath time, sleep time, work time

     Vodka to keep ghosts

"Joy and high finance. The police ran out
gross philosophical denial"
                    <Philip Whalen>
"It glows in the dark
               Like the willow tree hangs

NIRVANA = "bathing"
Specifically the bathing of elephants" <Ingalls>

               The symbol of the state
Elephant fording a river"<Legge>


Buddhist abbott cloistered in hospice

Let's drink tea
     watch barbecue in garden
               smouldering with carcinogens

          listen to the poet hum Bach
     despise Schumann and Schubert

Nearly blind
with an irrascible kindness


Don't strain, there's time
twenty four years of breathing
                          to read

     patience, boy, or leave
               We'll work two days a week


When you're stoned
      be careful
          of stepping on inspiration
     posting bills, metered parking, speeding
          handguns & condoms


A slice of Mexican sugar-coated guava
Manuscript on clumsy card table

Fat man in t-shirt and loose trousers
Red, purple and blue scrolls hang on walls
Jasper found at beach

Letter from Donald Allen about Kerouac

"Do you mind if I tape this?" I ask
     "Yes, I would not be comfortable"
He began recollections with "Three Satires"
Stopped in 1960 where these poems begin
Some published in "The Kindness Of Strangers"
Some in broadsides, little mags, ignored


Todd says boycott Taiwan
               trafficking in lion's bones

     "Save The Turtles"

          Two marine biologists raped
on Yucatan
     for blowing whistle on poachers

A song comes in the mail from New York

"Good work Mike. Talk to you soon!"

"Give me all of your love
Give me all of your soul
Tell me all there is to know
Tell me ohhhhh
Give me all of your soul"


Dripolator, Silex, Percolator

Miss Manners
      relics of New York

Foolishness, guidelines, instructions
On child-rearing

          rain, rain

Divisiveness in Politics
Voice mail jail

               Access Denied

Back door to system

          "rain & wind so nasty"

Marlene Dietrich
     siste viator
           Duke Ellington
Boring lists

How to take bath in Japan

Roshi says,
          one's breathing manipulates a group


Enter voice mail jail
          choose course in labyrinth

     You are my Icarus!
               But never get to fly

     deep sigh, deep breath, eyes closed
     look up at heaven, ohhh
     there you go, just ease out of your body
     ease out of flabby body
     float up above       floating through garden

     Over purple flowers horning up

And the man who looks like William Burroughs
And the man in black leather and sunglasses

     San Francisco, Chinatown
     Me and Michael McClure
               at tow-yard bailing out my car

               in moment of mutual generosity

                         Inhaling rain

A toast to the ascending spirit!


Melodies, nucleic acids, genetically altered

     linked beauty
     takes an honored seat
          I hear noises
      they are what I think they are

          I don't need to record them

I'm sitting and writing, it's the same sound
     except for the wind, and a few

          this room a maze of ideas

     Nabokov's translations of Onegin
           ribbon-flash flap and whip

     flap, flash
                     the infinite


Visit #3, Zenshin's Garden

          echium, or tower of jewels, agapanthus
          roses, bamboo escaping, ginko tree

     Look back at amethyst crystal cluster as I go out

"I shouldn't go without my cane"
          on uneven brickpath to plum harvest

Orange, ripe, sweet, ready, we go out

          Sunny walk to lunch

     Eggplant and ground pork
Long beans and chicken in black bean sauce
                         Steamed rice


"It has nothing to do with poetry" McClure says
                         "Fuck you! Fuck you!"

     (because I called to ask what he thought about my new book)

"You should have told me it was a big, huge
                    piece of work, massive work!"

                              (as if I didn't ask first)
"You just call out of nowhere, want to know what I think!"

     (maybe I should've sent a letter telling you I was going to call)


     Poetry, sacred art of Fox Turds
                         Duplicitous poets
               worm around like they own
the world

          They own nothing

                         IT'S IN THE WORK!

     Neither shaman nor guru
can save me from this

          crud out of whack in dismay

                                   I'll find myself in ashes

     Save your patience for the head man


Lew Welch,

          lost half the time, worrying
     about his mother's furniture, his inheritance
     the right, fair play, freezers
          on front and back porch
                                freezer inside
          full of frozen foods, pointless waste

She gave him $150 sportscoat
                when he'd rather have the money
           wild energy

          insane disappearance in the woods
loaded and mythic

               . . .it's the way they saw
     the poem, a mythic entity with

                         powerful associations

word-sculpture in great galleries of
           Greece, Russia, Paris
                          and New York

Why do they tell me stories about you, Lewie?
Were you the child they wept for when the world burned?


     So I learn their approach
          sit with them, read their syntax
                         write my own poems

What's my syntax?
          What's the perfect Michael Rothenberg poem

     look like, taste like
               smell like, feel like?

           when you don't use your senses
               you just know


His poems don't have an ending
                just take you somewhere, give you

                    MENTAL WHIPLASH!