Pierre Joris


Five Elegies and a Meditation

postmodern elegy

how long before
you cross out
the numbers
of the dead?
they are still & all
in there,
here, mixed
in, unshuffled deck, un-
weeded stack, in-
serted with the live
the quick the soon
to be dead the soon
to move. their names
& numbers
stuck between
friends & foes
by the aleatory
of alphabetic rigor
— yet rechecking
not once do the dead
jostle the dead.
that time too
will come but
not today

not today.


telegrammatica per franco beltrametti

"Caro, son qui: ti scrivo
(I write to tell you
per dirti..."
(two or three things
not bad at all
(all words are borrowed only)
vetri / polvere / rossa
no, I have no Greek theatre in my backyard
"continuazione in (p)rosa"
"a dead poet and one alive"
"una specie"
"can laugh at it all"
(la poesia)
(un matin de neige)
"di filosofia d'azione"
It's our turn. I think so
and the world is becoming
far less elegant
"un trapasso
dal sangue al sasso"
desolation/ we will be here no longer/ not
j'emporte avec moi
a book to be called
Blows Against The Mother Tongue
a cura de
(toi & moi)
(cosi cosi)
vos images
merci, mon ami,




                                     WITH ARMAND IN MIND

the cold from the north straight in my face
the lights the lights!
            do me in light, in mazola oil
do me in heaven
                           do me & do me
   the cold needs to get warmed up
            do me warmed up get
   the lights do me do me the lights
do me in light
                           do me in heaven
do not wait to do me
            in the cold of Aasgard



            toward a poem for Douglas Oliver

finally, though it starts
                           last Calvados tear
                           cried embracing you
                           knowing, knowing
                           this was the
                           long good-bye
            tiers of Calvary
no more dawn on Pont Neuf
the new bridge now the oldest
over a river that is a scene insane
            as I run
                           as I hold
the last
of Calva, poured out
            now on Paris ground,
                           sop for some imaginary big dog
& yet, Lady Lethe didn’t get it all

as “dark switches on the light” title
            of the last poem, Feb 10, 2000

“snow lying like a private drift of death”

“my interest is in the form that death gives to our lives”
“a public heart” he was, in John Donne’s phrase quoted by Denise Riley

and the master of a most demanding poetics: “How shall I write this?
By living it; that rule has not changed. You have children. Lose yourself in them.”

even now, when
“death, our richest humour, fills with lights.”

            a stress               born in time
                           stands outside
a minor, eternal present, a
                           trembling instant
partly resisting                the flow
            the line                 creates it
its very great fascination.

arrived at this . at that
            bouche d’ombre
the descent beckons
                           into memory’s hollows &
gulphs — metropolitan or -tain
            through it rebirth of sorts, e-
merge elsewhere, come up
for breath, even if
myth your identity not safe
            above or under-ground
the grind, the grind
            I groan in dejection
                           poor Calvados
pour calm vademecum dose
            pour Calvary
go with me
calamitous vagrant ryme
            we sat & smoked Cuba
                           sighed Africa
            sited America
vaude-willed Haiti
wept the Maghreb
set the world neither aright nor afire nor akimbo
recrossed Pont Neuf
had coffee & croissants at Le Petit Bar
embraced at metro gate
shot up the veins of another new morning
will meet again just there
I mean here



Jim Morrison
rock idol,
now you.
Help him
break through
to this, that
or any side
(you are
the better
poet if not
the better
man) I
played you
once what I
wish you now:
happy trails —
you too a
ride on &
you’ll find
your chicano fretboard,
you’ll open the sand
you’ll deck the asteroid.
Drift on
through the tripe,
the liquid overdrive
you could not escape
is sour grapes now.
Here there’s snow
or a slow
in the bathtub
where a fine
is as crinkly
as your heart’s
I still don’t know
what a gamboge
stair is.
The yellow brick road
all the way
to heaven?
Death taught
us nothing.
Barry, meet Jim.
The quicksilver
cut we liked
so much was
Who do you love?
a live suite or
hand we still follow
or hold.
Whose hand?
Or the shed noose
of our dreams.
Shared. Go on,
there’ll be trailers
for sale. Don’t
settle there
or for anything



6:30 am on terrace of the French Hotel in
Berkeley, reading the New York Times
obituary for Octavio Paz while

across the street just
to the right of Chez Panisse
a pale watery sun

sits locked in-
to the criss-cross webbing
of a tall dark fir —

as if his going had
for a moment stopped
Sol in it’s tracks —

the world a bit colder
after the heat of Paz,
a bit older, less bold,

his ashes raining
now over
Mexican earth.

A light wind shifts
twigs, the sun it
seems to

move in-
crementally higher —
it all does go on

while you now sit with Benito
Juarez & Pancho Villa
& introduce them

to some yankee poetas
Blackburn, say, and Olson still
mumbling “the wheels of the sun

must be unstuck”
& you argue for a

of the imagination &
we say, Octavio,
gracias for

releasing that sun!