word for/word
issue 6: summer 2004
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Juliet Patterson






Poetry, to have greatest reason for existing, must be illogical. I am interested in the phenomena of memory. An idea, a rumination such as more or less constantly roams the mind, meets external object or situation with quite illogical association. Poet Lorine Neidecker said this another way: "In my own experience sentences have appeared full-blown in the first moments of waking from sleep. It is a system of thought replacements, the most remote the most significant or irrational; a thousand variations of the basic tension; an attempt at not hard clear images but absorption of these."






Disguised as what may be surprise
over the raised stem,

the ray is all the eye's
own stirring. Light snarled, snap,

bare. Eye wide open
to form, an apology

in the seat of the armchair:
bouquet of earth,

sunflowers. Ten heads
heaved to heart-height

& what is a beautiful woman

(her face bleeding outside
the flower's line)

& what remains?

As if you still can hear me.
As if I still loved you.




Off Berneray


The sea reflected in the glass
of the book-

cases. The rural sea.
The last page stranded, turns,

seems to unravel her interrupted sentence.
A sea of torpid memory.

Smell of vetiver in an unfamiliar room.
Smell of the orris-root in the little closet.

Smell of her bedspread.
Further nicknames.

Blue tits in the blossoming apple
tree, gulls floating on the sea like water lilies.

The body is white.
The sleeves, too, white.

Death does not make any great difference.
A glass of water on a green notebook,

only a few phrases left, the filthiest,
& the taste of fingernails in my mouth.

Then winter, snow & the lashes
striking faster & faster.


Two hands where a train stops
in the middle of the countryside.

The body is white. The sleeves
white, too, pushing

a bicycle. The simplest act
remains immured

as within a thousand sealed
vessels in the blue volutes

of the morning sea, the rural
sea. A pink congelation of sunshine

& cold, a little simpering
laugh. I'm standing on ocean

strand, written in half.
A book is a huge cemetery

against the lemon fragrance
of guelder-roses,

the last page turning.




Hand Inside

For instance, the ear of a snail.
Is that a koan? Or the canal
of a chili pepper? Or the ear of Vincent Van Gogh
covered in a kerchief & meant as gift.
Terrible was his love, thou sayest.
Or beautiful.
What does thou sayest?
Do you hear a siren?
I hear a siren.
My lips start moving, but say
nothing. Is that a moan?
Or the roof of a convertible open to a sky
tossing plums?
Mourning doves pecking in the gutter.
Sounds like More! More!
Am I wrong in this?
In the world there are innumerable disturbances!
Bird song & whistle spit; green cords
threaded through trickling thunder.
The snail doesn't dream!
Inside the snail
is a snail, brains to fire.
Who needs an ear?
My hand inside
your mouth. The perfume is flowers
among crushed white





Juliet Patterson's poems have recently appeared, or are forthcoming, in ache, Conduit, Diagram, Poetry Miscellany, WaterStone & Verse.

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