Joan Retallack



Acknowledging the gap between reality and representation makes it hard to limn differences among realities and representations. Such difficulties can lead to epistemological despair. This is where poetry comes in.
Dita Fröller, New Old World Marvels


noft there ere rein invent iono trut


counter factuals
the world is full and doesn’t ask for more
I’d like to know better than to claim a song of songs
or the illumination of things by human minds
a late 19th century author wrote
Niagara Falls is nature committing suicide
yes no the quest for a statuesque naturalism
goes far beyond even that
far beyond the German Alpine film
know what I mean
neither a saffron anecdote nor a whispered truth
the didactic impulse can be violent and not so brief
less what it teaches than what it makes you want

oft rut herein einven entiono trut


evidence that everything has some kind of effect
doesn’t solve the problem of why not
the problem of the instability of memory
complicates politics of responsibility
or as luck would have had it had one only known at the time
an evening identical to this already all too familiar
lock-in rate of synchronized swimmers with bony smiles
for many millennia the reinvention of truth
came as a surprise: suppose an inverted triangle
to be gradually dipped in water, wrote CS Peirce
of values in a universe of chance
I confess
I want the fabulist tone to explode in their faces
oft ruth herein the entiono he


a beggar approached saying excuse me sir
that I thought of myself as a woman at the time
may not be the most significant what’s wrong with this picture
or the most disturbing forgery of a sort not heretofore detected
Fred sends his Hi Honey Fran blows a kiss
hey what’s going on
why mention this now
the vanity of the resistance to narrate can seem frivolous
when so many would give their mind’s eye
but then there it is all safely tucked into a grammatical past
your mind: you can be the proud owner of this formidable machine
is it a matter of accuracy alone or something else

(asked to) (sings)


vent io no in io no in trut

it can be startling to hear a sentence begin with we
the place of absence so precisely marked
always the point of departure for something tragic and mistaken
and brutal and catastrophic many times over never farce
in a bright saturation of urgent green urgent orange crackup blue and white
the aforementioned swimmers bob about with bony smiles
can any of this be traced to pleasure v. reality principle debates
or lack thereof in Greek or Roman or Viennese classicisms
in the monster meadow all seemed to disappear in the happy meadow
oh in the happy tears oh the spot of red that snapped the chaos into place
this much can be conjectured now: that Isaac Newton’s world
was more involved with magic than mechanics
may be what made gravity conceivable to him
but where to go from there




vent there no trut ono ein noft her

at any moment the phantom eloquence may begin
what instruments are needed to calibrate the viscosity of this plenum
how to broach a bloated strategy against this shiny interruption
why assume trees and people are controlled by genes
and rivers aren’t and people are
the poet had stopped singing to talk

what if all the poets stop singing to talk
another Kantian c-c-categorical nightmare obliterates the screen
and but I don’t think I really believe
this may not be fun but it’s true
and but can the I that just said that be trusted
might not I or that other I say this only to wangle a better position
to wave down the next empty cliché to get home fast
before the next catastrophe unfolds in the crowded streets


summation #1

this just in on internet
tonsil bliny corrigendum fbi cpa squeaky cretin
presidente cushy brink horrific orifice inflated
shut up and buy a parachute the parachute industry
stands to gain if they gain so do we [T? F?] shut up
buy stock in something something stands to gain
declawed abacus airy temporary dandies exhibit
deadly symptoms stand back


summation #2

cheese burka subordinate screed
relish the net effect
domino dominas dominat
unlust etymology lust on

her en trut re ventiono ere


penultimate folksong nirvana

at one and one and one and the same time
it all adds up
just wait ‘til tomorrow mañana
her Latin dyslexia means
(I need silence to think)
(if I slow down my synaesthesia kicks in)
(all these words are showing their true colors)


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