Issue 1: Noah Eli Gordon
The Laughing Alphabet
A FACT CUTS ITSELF IN TWO on the landing below the Book of Dreams. Becomes part flowering muscle, half a piece standing in for the Queen. But what of the magistrate up in arms & waving from the margins where there is endless commerce & an amaranth on the sill? & the window itself? Its hypotheses & electronics? The white wires will stand for science, lines in the author’s poker face taken on faith. Betraying the historical underpinnings, a pin pulled outside of Alexandria.
HOW MANY WAYS can one conjugate the word cargo, asks the genius in the light bulb. Asks the thorn in the sentence’s foot that is not grammar but the poem turning inward, tearing along an infinite plane of current. A cue to place the pencil down & wait for the refrain to repeat itself: muted hieroglyphics, mud tracked from the Woman of Many Dinner Guests & the history of meals past horrid-eyed prison ships & the holding of radiation.
I'M WRITING WITH MY ARMS RAISED. A lion noise at the burning of the library that is not Courage saying: look at my thin wrists, a particular curtain in a certain light, an illustration of the uninformed child, the fool, the wicked man & the sage. One’s wearing the Laughing Alphabet. One’s singing to a blue fox at forest’s edge. One chews his pencil to gray mush. One grinds her thumbs to powder. & the view from the window—a smaller window, someone staring out.
THOUGH YOU IMAGINE A PERPETUAL FLAME only to collect ash from a wooden spoon, this is neither an allegory nor a click track taken out of the final cut. A wooden rocker on the Isle of Small Wonders stands for itself. An instantaneous account of purported events for solvent history. A jacket that may or may not establish dignity when the hour flickers out. But enough swaying back & forth. There is the lateness of a buried river to attend to, a photograph of its misshapen bed.
TELEPROMPTERS SPIRAL to an undescendible stair. The curtain coming down as a single point of light in the center of the screen, a perpetual exit to a staged response painted on the backdrop the sun flares into. I was born at 1515 Echo Lane. Such was life in the house of latent immobility, Night-ness & Day-ness an indifference to public affairs. Inside, the argument made more heat than light. & upstream, water & green rocks, glistening bells whose hands like hooks hover a moment & release their catch.
AT THE EMPTY HOUSE on an endless runway, a landing overlooks the possibility of birds & the forest goes blue with ice. Remember the bullet’s marked decomposition, the general, the infantry, endless amounts of iron? A generalization beginning with the half-life one asks of age? The lace bug & the ash-gray leaf bug, the ambush bug & the assassin bug, the water scorpion & the European earwig, the true katydid, the Jerusalem cricket asking, asking where will I put my money when they come to re-panel the walls? How can I lean into birds without knees?
THE FOOL WORKED MORNINGS on his forgery, a blue crayon & a voice played back on a handheld recorder, its regional drawl recounting a dream of the other nothing. One sets time against itself & the key fits but it won’t turn to the left or the right but it fits & that makes you happy if only for a few seconds. There were plastic bags in the highest branches. Ribbons of smoke above the river. A house on the hill stretching its wax wings. Was it a consolation prize or purely original silence?
A FACT CUTS ITSELF IN TWO on the landing
From an abstract intimacy comes a stunted acceleration
One dragonfly empting itself into another mid-flight
& I’ll play a warden in flowered dress
Noah Eli Gordon is the author of six collections, including Novel Pictorial Noise (selected by John Ashbery for the National Poetry Series). His chapbook Acoustic Experience is now available from Pavement Saw Press (http://www.pavementsaw.org).]