Issue 3: Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Draft 97: Rubrics


the red streak of honey in the mouth

If that rush,

fathoming up in fullness,                


if the welling of sound, the englobed


thickens, resistant

            to flow yet flowing,

            despite we are in time            

                                    whose henna dark touch

                        smears with plenitude and echo;

If there is speaking song,                                               

                                     Multiple exposure to the bright debris

enters it

            rose-fish  fish-rose  faint in the tent of yellow smear

                                    opens to it, the day will,                                   

            the light will, be striking it;

                                    THEN in the sweetness of the place,

THIS be Honey trying to speak.

            And riddle by riddle, notch to notch, petal and deep

bright words WILL fall,  twisting and drizzling,

                        a-gleam with orange emanation (erudition) (elision)

and scattered into a red-gold light.

Red circled holes Red rover red Red squares

on cardboard rover stepped corner to corner

for stitching under and over supremacist principles

This first page is a primer

                        letters in orange blossom honey,

TRACE                           suck them

clean from the finger. The house, the bee, the river, the door.

                                                                        RED OCHRE

                                    words to be read, yet blurred,

smeared on the ghostly page, WORDS

muddied with clay, scraped with road rock

                                                            code letters of a security check.

            The paper said “you are at a crossroads”             


            and blew away, down the valley where the wind goes

gusting and twisting. Clouds, rose heart, straight to the airport,

                                    Rotting leaves. Take-off.  Ear pressure.

All this could,

                        with steaming lumps of compost

                                    outline time.

This letter is life, iota iota                humus humming             it is an encyclopedia

luminous in every gray-brown account.

            Luminous even in the depths of the newspaper.

                        Spike password twist:  what will allow MORE?     


What will honor

            dialectical (diacritical) (diasporic)

resonance. Make the sign.

                        A RAYED-OUT ROSE

Have you accepted?

            To sound each overtone petal while

                        swirling, davening, loosened

                                    so far beyond vagaries of

                                                suspicion as were willingly indentured

on selvedge and borderland, willing

            to work by the pollen light of day

            and watch the teardrop planet

                        golden in the night

                                     druped above

                        a sprawling blue florescence. 

                                    This flickering little

                                    yellow powder, dot and grain,

                                    IS TRANSFORMED.

The world hangs here, honey off a spoon, a drizzled

thread. The brightness twists in lines-- and then it falls.

                        Blood oranges, their marble paper peel--

            THIS LIST of things, this next least

                         globule of cellular joy

                                    is enough to stop one dead. Dead!

                                    IT IS ALL RUBRIC,

                                    given all is red.

Writing A to Z Brick edges

on rainbow stencilled bloopy edged brick

ribbon N mountains mortared

a black rosette and Y mindful at angles for

for garland fishing triangle friezes

Make the sign.

Signs from impingement (impediment) (implosion).            

                                    And the cardinal sang in the redbud tree, who could


this would happen but it did, RED pip PIP, piercing suffusions of magenta.       


      Not without vertigo, not without the vertiginous,

  not without antic radicalism. It reverberated color as sound.

            The gong struck at every step, A black O blue, desire Violet.

                                                                        YELLOW STAIN

                                                POOL OF PINK

    always layers of matter, the matted mast of alphabet

        rotting and steaming, filled with red-tipped worms.

  O dizzy dizziness, there’s no rest here;

      At the heart

 of the delectable comes floating. At the borders

    of debatable comes zoning. At delight,

  whitening mists in which turns of anxiousness--

  the blur of a car: is this the road? is this the moment? Is this poisonous?

is this the premise (the promise) (the prefix)

                        so broken and yet still marked by streaks of light?

                                    Where is this and what are we?

Beaded angel Turquoise Vegetable harp

pluck-dark chalice with green shadow

in-blood sound lotus narrative wingly. Cloud berry

The hoopoes The butterfly yellow, memory

came back year papyrus color alembic. Rosy ribbon

after year, here landed on her lapis remember-red

                                                Secret crypts within the colors

                                                dust us.

Amber is honey reversed.


                        There was a line of coral, a puncture of

BLOOD as, from a needle where was stuck

that fingertip, and then suck, taking your blood

or the blood of a child into

your mouth.              


            Such astonishment seeing TIME move, bled

into such a tiny pinprick of the universe,

             as temporality hit matter

and set us smashed and shattered

                                    upon the ground of our own wonder.    

                                                                        January-March 2009

Draft 81:  Gap

Day of Silence, with newspapers.

Pitch. Of silence.

Can one understand it?

            No one knows why.

Aren’t there many reasons?

            Yes, but finally.

Can one turn it inside out?

            It is probably irreducible.

            It is impossible in large, and unbelievable in little.

Couldn’t those terms also be reversed—

            unbelievable in large and impossible in little?

            But that’s not changing any impact.

We had packed the night before because we were due to leave so early.

It was cold where we were going, and we were a little unprepared.

That saying the name is dangerous and forbidden.

That saying the name is allowed, encouraged. Blessed be the name.

These models will help understanding.

These models are derisory.

As I fell asleep, I bit myself.

Therefore I woke up.

But then I dreamed of missing him and her

At the train. So must have been asleep.

We had been planning this journey for a long time or rather

It had come to us and demanded that we take it.

The what is-ness of it.

The nothing is-ness of it.

To understand something, to understand little,

To understand nothing

Can have parallel outcomes.

I asked my friend for some names of people where we were going

But she never responded.

There are opposites but no choices.

I thought I could not eat,

But I did have some honey.

We rose much too early.

We made small comments about the road while traveling.

For one, it did not seem in very good repair.

Black smoke poured out of the truck exhaust pipe.

“I’m surprised they allow that.”

On the abandoned concrete hut, the graffito RATS

Writ in a brutalist style, last leg of the trip.

What is seen cannot be registered fully

Though it can be placed.

Or perhaps it can be placed

But it cannot be registered fully.

The poisons level off; time erodes something

But not very much.

It seemed normal in an abnormal way.

But that’s only because it really happened.

Maybe “normalized” or “normative” is what I mean.

Meaning loses meaning,

But must still be kept in mind.

No one could invent this.

But someone had to, and others entered their premise.

The door was open, triumphant, trenchant,

With acts, specifications, and deeds,

With tortuous articulations of

intricate and particular events.

Stripped stuff in categories,

            And a serious attempt to blow up the evidence.

It is a wall in consciousness of dead air and concrete

            That reads out as fenced acreage.

A box of black for everything.

            What is everything; what is nothing?

The word is a strange word, but now it is bound to you.

Let the word be bound to you, thongs bind the word

Right between your eyes.

This language uses many letters that are underused

In the Anglophone context.

Z and J and W and K. Plus Y. And C.

Wyz could begin a word;

Zczy could be in the middle.

Therefore it looks strange.

One must be careful of certain feelings.

And we didn’t pack carefully enough.

It changed to threatening. Very unstable.

What do you find the most unbearable?

This is unanswerable.

People take pictures with digital cameras

So little flashes of light pop out of the dimness.

All the rest were unnumbered, uncounted, innumerable.

Zakaz Wchadzenia Na Ruiny.

Keep Off the Ruins.

People stood in small groups

In wonder. Everything was blank.

But slightly inhabited.

            ø  ø  ø 

Back in town, at the cemetery,

So many pebbles had been put on headstones

That it looked like the graves were piled with rubble.

                                                                        June 2006-June 2007

[Non-chronological order of the poems is at author's request]

[Rachel Blau DuPlessis is an American poet-critic, whose on-going long poem project, begun in 1986, has been collected by Salt in 2007 in Torques: Drafts 58-76, as well as in Drafts 1-38, Toll (Wesleyan U.P., 2001) and Drafts 39-57, Pledge, with Draft unnnumbered: Precis (Salt Publishing, 2004). Pitch: Drafts 77- 95 is coming out with Salt early in 2010. DuPlessis was awarded a residency at Bellagio in 2007; she was the recipient of a Pew Fellowship for Artists and of the Roy Harvey Pearce/ Archive for New Poetry Prize, both in 2002.]

Copyright © 2009 by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.