Gillian Conoley



Every Epoch



Peace does not appear so distant as it did.
Nor legs so long


as if to ask,
is this a marriage or an allegory?


Enter do you want
            a Negro woman for a slave
            or a wife?


“I could just leave her alone.”


War next     next/next
over in less than a week, sure thing most excellent
chief, high hat with no man in, death close-walking—


Enter Captain Lilac
brought the enemy


                      a laughingstock, the green states,
who once had his
“persuasion, kind, unassuming persuasion.”




One spiritualist, two spiritualists, three spiritualists,




dust off   black topcoat of history,
lilacs, lilacs, you and me,
we always got the histamine.


Sparrows nest
near the eyes, flee bearded Death,
concrete example:
“I am not reading.  I am studying law.”


Enter   “a specious and fantastic
            arrangement of words,
            by which a man can prove
            a horse chestnut to be
            a chestnut horse.”




Money to make beautiful sound
in school children’s pockets,


money to know all their addresses, ordinary terrors
to keep under one’s hat, muy tired.


Does poetry matter? 


A cloud clearly seen is stranger than country, mystic chords and patriot graves, ’copter guard.


If Colossus could have sat down, I bet he would have.



Free verse is “Ladies and Gentlemen:   I appear before you merely for the purpose of 
                    greeting you, saying a few words and bidding you farewell.


                    I have no speech
                    to make, and no sufficient time to make one if I
had; nor have I the strength


                    to repeat a speech, at all the places at which I
stop. I have come to see you

                    and allow you to see me (Applause)



Enter the lawn from the rear, grey/green, windless, eerie.
Unsifted birds layered low


lift to the oracle’s ear, whippoorwill intoning over
rio.  ( Head above crowd,    
brow  in the cirrus,  that’s you,   


spoken man)   
Imagination to state:


over the dead, piled-high.
the country makes the scene
a wonder.


                     and now I believe I have really made my speech and am
                     ready to bid you farewell when the cars move on.”


Every Epoch


dreams it has been destroyed by catastrophe.

                                          a mass ego only properly exists in earthquakes
and catastrophes,
                                          a mass ego as in music,

the one song everyone loves.
but the violence one has to incorporate is great,

                                          the joy is mighty,

                                          the one song everyone loves, loved.

every epoch dreams time is a water garden in a weedy churchyard.

no Hell in your draft

there are other terrors.

                                          I sleep
                                          You sleep
                                          He she it sleeps
                                          You sleep they sleep we sleep.

the incomparable moon chapter, over mine enemy.

                                          strong leader dozes off in horizon’s dank corridor

                                          calm nights along sensorium’s riverbank.

objects freed of their utility completely unmoored.

                                          an epoch dreams and one follows any adversary on land,

                                          any adversary

                                          in the bottom of the brain,

                                          an enemy sitting across from a lover,

                                          calmly editing a lover,

                                          her salad a mirage.

a real world could come back to us as an epoch,

                                          similar to a short while and a further example.

                                          ecstatic child leaning over a pickle barrel.

                                          a time bruise on the pickle barrel.


a few master pieces droop, an epoch

                                          dreams in the ruinous thereof.

                                          every epoch dreams, and one follows.

                                          every epoch dreams, one follows

                                          as a figment in one setting beyond this earth even.


Bio: Gillian Conoley’s most recent publication is Lovers in the Used World (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2001). She is the founding editor of Volt and lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

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