WORD/ FOR WORD: Volume One

Richard Deming

Rooms (1)

Choose this place, its dogged vacancies
                                             and when someone walks in, here begins:
the distance pressed, the minute before grew an inch,
now closer in--arms and legs shoot out so
                                             the body is an x, a beckoning.
                                 How's that for sincerity? That welcome sotto voce which
yearns from
                                             resolutions while (at the same
time desperately) avoiding
                                             radiance. Nostalgia darkens

a woman's eyes. Don't look now,
                       the obvious, its reckless breech
                                  of the surrounded        illuminates

still and yet and this
whole room hurtles towards
daybreak. Reply hazy: choose "choose again."







Rooms (2)

Love, forgive these dumb, these luckless fingers.
Wish them something else-a horse's mane, stiffened with mud.
The old knot, then: being blooms names like purple asters
And if one thing's to hold, then another doesn't.
Suppose a lion with two heads walked
                                                                   into the self-
                                                                                          same room, what would you
                                                                       do? Why
                                                    cleave it in two! Add the rest up
in the calculus of the fleshly. Such daisies, such exigencies of--see?
             There's no way to say any of this. Will you try,
                                                               try again?
                                                                                                        To make any of it real the
room must be            small, must be backed by an ocean filled window--what                you've
                                      known all along -- the terrace green and iron wrought.  In a birch tree,
                                         elsewhere, words (all tufts and red breasts) nest and wait a turn and
                                                                                                         you never know where it
                                                                                                                           is they die to.







Rooms (3)

Begin the arrangement, the ordering tendencies,

                     tasting/now grazing/
                                                                         "No, end the gerunds--pretty
                              --blew/felt-skin separates--the whorl and yaw
and blood and this yell. O,
finitude's last--read what?--past even that now.
                                                   Heard this one?--
                                          Caught, dropped wayward side,
harbored slope--or slip--no, sloop--yes
again--whitecaps, choppy water. Remember his brown skin?
                                                       Whose? The deck hand. "Open sez me."

Petals: violet: bruise. Still,
                                  n't you glad?
Gather ye leafy asphodels while ye may.
The green. The greed. The thumb's perplex.
            Item: owning + identity < indigo.
                                             Could you phrase such
                                                                                                                                desire as
a question? "Hmmm, pretty. Please?"
            Tongue = pink + hope. Like this.







Five Views from the Ticket Taker's Window

     The line teases out its own symmetries: the little window, the place where what a
       glance defines is choice and coins plunk and lurch from sweaty palm to sweaty palm.
A man at the end shifts from foot to foot , then hovers in midair. Breathlessly she
composes herself behind the bars, framed by its fallible and relentless grid.

    The lights from the computer monitor shine about her face. She doesn't understand
poetry because all similes are suspicious:
You could, you know, count the words.
--the what?--
...the change you could count the...

And in the gloaming O, the click and hitch of sliding towards spring. Shit. And my god
      how memory unsays this place. Assassination unblinkingly brings the curtain
      down--a Ford's Theater of the mind.

    And so he painted the inside of the sky. He painted gray and cave shaped, some
      times the obvious is what calls out, the chiaroscuro of the self evident. In the cracks
      at the edges an ash tree bloomed trapezoids, and for a moment the leaves decided not
      to speak out but to point towards the East.

The place of:
      A. Once more the glass fractures
      B. The bureau agents hide along the banks of the
      C. If you can read this you're too
      D. None of the above

I will read to you, read to you from this book of forthcoming/this text in variations/index/
ask of what you meant to answer but then was gone as if you think only in thought.
Before there was any of this there was you (See figure X.ii).







J.'s Nipple Ring

How do bodies
            in pleasure, writerly
or otherwise,
a secretive tear--

enact a refusal


to comply?

                          wave, particle,

           silver hoop held fast and hurtling

           Could I look without owning,
I'd offer the price of this
          hidden architecture

its erect elaboration
what comes between

Fleshy tuck and cleft, ontology, fingernails

Held here,
The stammering of the cheek,
            Eyebrows, dissolution

What thing here suggests, persuades


             hums its secret,
across the sternum--such inscription
                      --who'd ever tell?--
             pierces nerve endings
with a pain that claims its sources.

And if grace, as it can, comes inaudibly,

                                  let the the nipple's dark            mouth be
                                                      its own unrelenting

[contributors' notes]
[back to Volume 1]