Monday, November 30, 2009

Robert Mittenthal, "Memory Play" & "Severance"

Robert Mittenthal

Memory Play

1. The withers of cold. Northern Spy or Williams Pride next to Sunshine Blue or muted berry. Like a captive crow with a slight case of experience each improvised sound a phrase written on long walks.

2. To keep the book open the trick is to turn the page, to see what is written. It sits here saying itself all over again. A Phantom Limb on facing pages set to prefer perfection.

3. Betrayal of a bottom no one can stand. So we sat there blood running to purity, a palimpsest whose love handles such things. Magnolia buds in beige infer a distant signal to flower. The essence of liquid primed or newly stretched. Forming white forms islands of grey, driftwood of a slender vocabulary. A mouth open to dwell on lips until collecting weeds its habit.

4. Each adjective stands for a mode of kneeling. Definition of an I that bends. A dominion all propped up. Bright line seeks parallel to conquer its divide. Usefully vicious he sticks it to them. Those who think they see are burnished in the calm of fracture. A forgotten peril whose script reproves us.

5. The new barbarians: they wove themselves bowties of copper & distributed network share.

6. Displaced eyes no longer intersect in courtyards. The open window to a city that once held our attention. Naked to what remains outside, an analog rewinds to play. Its diagrammed hand can’t stand for itself. The store of images magnificent in waiting.

7. The hand as map finally tucks under Mackinaw, bridge to the north that shifts light above Huron. Counting raindrops we lay soft as yellow and yellow as soft. Buttercups below the threshold of feeling. Footprints in sand behind us. As a sleight of hand, thought is reduced to what translates in the eye. Which leaves the other handle on the wall of language.

8. A monk connects a shrine to the threads of chance. 1000 scraps of paper. An abstract mass suddenly in the mouth. A mountain of caramel which both attracts and repels. When the alarm goes off he opens a small carton of chocolate milk. Excuse me, he says, I am very bad. With this, one may take pleasure in his fasting.

9. Cloisters or compartments whose divisions roil us. Logic adrift in the sounds of arrival and departure. We live between poles – each parcel a vast expanse. As ‘it’ goes (so do we) eye to eye thru each perspective – tracking a vision best left uncorrected.

10. A displacement later identified as “the poet” a.k.a. the hardest working noun in no business.

11. Adjacent to myself, surprise left me abeam in the waterway. Submarines reveal what memory displaced. A childhood vision where portals all look the same. A tunnel spilling out to a convenience store. I fired my feet and peeled back the fresh flesh. The dream of motion slowed with the luxury of never stopping.

12. It’s comfort that takes my head and shakes it. Having eaten is beneath. It’s a stately vault contains the body – as if vegetation is carved out of earth. Time as a building compress. A simple frame but stronger, it needs an ambitious prop to say yes to all.


Paid to forget I remember more. Off the rails where we are sentenced. It is time to plead for a simple place to sit. Ultimately replaceable we’re reminded to stop.

This is the network of twitch where memory is bare. It is a brand never new – where one for all inverts itself to take leave or to pay back. It’s a mime that regulates agreement – fat fingering the terms of sale.

This is the system of social assistance, composing sense. Around the corner where we can’t see the sound feel its way home. We made a beeline for it and got lost. Throwing what into whiteness pulls its chain. Purity as a lost seam where a pencil etched the white out. A ball of string thrown into the wind. Unraveled guideline traced to where the negative alights, to where seeds will never fall. These rules focus their imagined sum on the next step – a latticework that amounts to everything we just said.

Robert Mittenthal is the author of Value Unmapped (Nomados), Martyr Economy, Ready Terms (Tsunami Editions), and the forthcoming Wax World (Chax). He lives in Seattle where he has been a curator of the Subtext Reading Series. His new blog Blandiloquent is at http://rmutts.blogspot.com

RECONFIGURATIONS: A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture, http://reconfigurations.blogspot.com/, ISSN: 1938-3592, Volume Three (2009): Immanence/ Imminence

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