Friday, December 27, 2013

It Is Undone Business I Speak Of, This Morning, or: Born 103 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

I posted this and the two poems and photo last year on Olson's birthday:
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 this 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 got Amazon gift cards in my wallet: 2013 to be the year I reread The Maximus Poems, expect lots of poems here.

UPDATE! 2013 was also supposed to be the year of Proust, that didn't work out, but it WAS! the year of The Maximus Poems, not every day - on purpose, the first time since the last time until the next time that's worked - but in sequence, the first half of 2014 (at least) will be year I finish rereading The Maximus poems. As for lots here, my favorite ones are hard to find to copy and paste, ridiculously hard if not impossible to type, and I didn't think anyone would mind.


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


  • The Bettie Serveert song is Theme Song Four because it makes me stupidly happy, I daydream I could someday be that happy, but when I change bloglook like I compulsively need to every time since the last until the next it's the Theme Song I don't think is ceremoniously necessary on the first day, the only one necessary on the second.
  • The Surface.
  • Today's Maqroll precept:
A knife in the body of a sleeping man. The bare lips of a wound that does not bleed. Vertigo, the death rattle, the final stillness. Like certain truths that life fires at us - insoluble, unerring, erratic, indifferent life.


Charles Olson

I have had to learn the simplest things
last. Which made for difficulties.
Even at sea I was slow, to get the hand out, or to cross   
a wet deck.
               The sea was not, finally, my trade.
But even my trade, at it, I stood estranged
from that which was most familiar. Was delayed,
and not content with the man’s argument
that such postponement   
is now the nature of
               that we are all late
               in a slow time,
               that we grow up many
               And the single   
               is not easily

It could be, though the sharpness (the achiote)   
I note in others,
makes more sense
than my own distances. The agilities

               they show daily
               who do the world’s   
               And who do nature’s   
               as I have no sense   
               I have done either

I have made dialogues,
have discussed ancient texts,
have thrown what light I could, offered   
what pleasures
doceat allows
               But the known?
This, I have had to be given,
a life, love, and from one man   
the world.
               But sitting here
               I look out as a wind   
               and water man, testing   
               And missing
               some proof

I know the quarters
of the weather, where it comes from,   
where it goes. But the stem of me,   
this I took from their welcome,
or their rejection, of me

               And my arrogance
               was neither diminished   
               nor increased,
               by the communication


It is undone business
I speak of, this morning,   
with the sea
stretching out
from my feet