Thursday, December 27, 2012

Born 102 Years Ago Today


Charles Olson

I come back to the geography of it,
the land falling off to the left
where my father shot his scabby golf
and the rest of us played baseball
into the summer darkness until no flies
could be seen and we came home
to our various piazzas where the women

To the left the land fell to the city,
is of a tent spread to feed lobsters
to Rexall conventioneers, and my father,
a man for kicks, came out of the tent roaring
with a bread-knife in his teeth to take care of
a druggist they'd told him had made a pass at
my mother, she laughing, so sure, as round
as her face, Hines pink and apple,
under one of those frame hats women then

This, is no bare incoming
of abstract form, this

is no welter or the forms
of those events, this,

Greeks, is the stopping
of the battle

          It is the imposing
of all those antecedent predecessions, the precessions

of me, the generation of those facts
which are my words, it is coming

from all that I no longer am, yet am,
the slow westward motion of

more than I am

There is no strict personal order

for my inheritance.

               No Greek will be able

to discriminate by body.

                    An American

is a complex of occasions,

themselves a geometry

of spatial nature.

          I have this sense,

that I am one

with my skin

               Plus this - plus this:

that forever the geography

which leans in

on me I compel

backwards I compel Gloucester

to yield, to



is this

It's been 25 years since I read The Maximus Poems. A friend has been badgering me to revisit Olson, especially since I've been posting Black Mountain occasionally the past year; The Library's beaten, pencil-marked and high-lighted copy has been on my desk since last week when I grabbed it from a pile of discharged books; I stumble upon his birthday today; I've giftcards to Amazon in my wallet: 2013 to be  The Year I Reread The Maximus Poems, expect lots of his poems here.


on ground level
up on top of the world
the Bulgar and his sons
in the eye of ice
over the left shoulder
North North East
on a line extending
directly half way distance
between the left neck
and the ridge above
the road which passes over
the top of the world
constituted of color
divided among them
the Throne the Kingdom the Power