Sunday, February 3, 2008

Bubbles and Butterflies

You caress the bubble but it doesn't burst.
You squeeze it. It cannot burst. So you eat it

And as it passes out there's a world in there.

Not some New York skyline with snowflakes
But a man, yourself, as he should have been.

He is taller than you, stronger than you,
He is warmer, kinder, more generous

He has a keener intellect, a finer humour.
He laughs at himself and accepts his foibles.

He is the you you should've been but aren't

So you flush him. But he finds his way out
Of the pipes and into the river where he bubbles up

With millions of other bubbles he heads for the falls.

He falls and stays intact. He wanders up and down
And through all the earth, this homunculus who will outlast you,

Capable of every thing but one:
He cannot free himself from the bubble.

You stand in your living room and a butterfly
Puts his wings between your fingertips

And your feet leave the ground.

At first you laugh but, as your head passes through the ceiling
And you wonder if you're air or plaster, awake or asleep

(You fear to let go but you're curious to go on)

You rise up above the clouds, above the stars even
To the untouched waters over heaven

And you find yourself in a pink spiral

A tunnel. How strange. Above the space, you thought,
There would be more and more space, ever more freedom

But it's a tunnel, and it's narrowing.

The tunnel gets dark and you're afraid to let go
So many miles from home and then you smell the stink.

The stench is appalling but you think it will pass.

It gets worse. You can't let go now. You can only hope
Things will get better. But it gets worse. And it gets hot.

Surely it can't last and if I let go I'll die here

In this heat and this stink, alone. At least I have
Someone with me, the butterfly. But who is this butterfly?

It puts its wings between my finger. It wanted to take me here.
But I have nothing else and fear to die alone.

So you hold on. The heat gets more intense. It is searing
And then it gets twice as hot. You can't breathe.

Now it's so hot it's beyond heat. You feel ice cold.

The butterfly is letting you down into a burning lake.
The lake is silver, like mercury. Like a volcano

It bubbles. Perfectly round solid bubbles and you see
Either reflected on the outside or inside it (you cannot tell)

A man resting peacefully, each under his own fig tree.
He drops you.

You feel your feet hit something solid, your knees buckle
And instinct makes you reach with both hands to break the fall.

You let go of the butterfly.

You are on your feet, crouching, in the centre of
Your living room. You know, for the first time

The fear and love of God.

© Dan Goorevitch, 2001

A Poem for Paul Smith

Overhead the flickering bulb
buzzes, pops and hisses;
the clock-hands move:
three petty tyrants,
unhurried, self-assured.

What is this pressure
at the base of the ear? Silence
in the muddle—the middle
of the stream, crossing
to the other bank?
What paralysis grips?
What agency demands this
vacant stare?

You ask me to write a poem
in answer to a question I ask again:
“What can I do for you?”

Looking back and looking forward,
the present consumed by seemingly
inconsequential things which, taken together
mount to matters of great weight and urgency:
a huge library to dispose of,
the question of who gets what,
the agony of weighing the value of a friendship—
more presence than you bargained for;
less time for reflection than assumed—
strange that!

And they say time flies!
It doesn’t. It creeps. It steals.

And now the wet expanse shows no sign
where a child, stick in hand, wrote his name:
the grey clay cleft has nearly closed completely
as if some wondrous maiden—some mud—some mudder
of millions, suddenly, miraculously:— a virgin again!

Three four, six, nine
skips across the water,
lapping, at the nearer
and the farther shore,

our names, my friend,
in water or in sand—

only a moment more.

© Dan Goorevitch, 2005


With a crushing weight on my chest
I enter the crematorium.

Faint moans and screams,
Gaunt women in threadbare cotton shifts,

Long diaphanous hair streaming behind
And a young blond man in full Nazi regalia giving chase.

Mouth open, drooling, his cold blue eyes sparkle.
Entranced! Bewitched! In love!

How do I even know you're here?
Here is a door but no other side

No grass, no birds
No kind or comforting words

Just cell phones and a mean looking mother—
His long legs privatizing the aisle.

A girl, about twenty-six months
Looks from face to face

Picking up the world they see—lonely—
On a bus full of people!

She looks; he won't return her gaze.
She pleads

and in her eyes now grows
His look of utter hate returned to him.

He looks for the door
But finds no other side.

With half a laugh to whom it may concern
Her mother laughs and says

"She's so intense!"
Hoping he isn't offended.

He isn't.
He's broken.

He wobbles to the exit
his heart like her heart

a chamber
with a door

and a world
inside it struggling

as the rest of us.

© Dan Goorevitch, 2001

The Dark Ages

to Patty

In the dark ages
—I read it in a book—
there was very little art.

In that book,
an illustration:
A broad necklet

made of some
milky substance
and from it

a golden pendant
with twin stones
of sapphire shone.

here you stand
to go

In your white
leather coat,
your hair

—and your eyes—
out of a dun night

© Dan Goorevitch, 2001

For The Sake Of Argument

For the sake of argument let's say you have no identity.
For the sake of argument let's say you're an image
you make and remake, a lump of clay, thrown on a wheel,
hollowed out as it rises until its walls, too brittle,
crumble, or if not, sustain an astounding grace
but disappoint after the glazing, or if not, enthrall,
delight and excite until you drop it in your reverie.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you are a masterpiece
sitting in the British Museum until, like Sumer, like Egypt,
your museums are destroyed and you,
like all the masterpieces that surround you,
are desecrated by barbarian hordes who, living in poverty,
watching your television shows, their envy and malice
feeding their power and violence, put an end to you.

Let's say, for the sake of argument
you are an insect caught in amber
and it is only the wind that seems
to make your dry limbs shudder.

© Dan Goorevitch, 2003

God exists for secrets such as this

to Maral

Shave the fur from the purring beast
and see the skin and veins beneath,
the musculature and its armature,
the indwelling city:

skyscraper, sewer, roadway and market, telephone, electric plant.
All the world is full of dreams and dreamers dreaming, loth to wake.

We have ourselves as dreams to dream
and sleep and wake, and never know the difference.

God exists for secrets such as this
to take a battered arm to kiss,
to bind and dress these wounds of ours,
to bathe them in these pregnant hours
we blind with that cannulating light
that beats in us as pure delight.

© Dan Goorevitch, 2001


I've touched the silky lining of death's cunt.
She's cold but her hole is hot.

This hand-me-down I call my self—
even this—even this is a rental.
They'll take the blood out of my body
and they'll wash it and wash it
and return it to me clean.

and some fool on a motorcycle
will leave me something in his will,
one of his two laundries.

I'll buy a Harley
—pick up a fat broad

—fuck her drunk—dead drunk—
She'll be my motorcycle mamma
—I'll be her daddy—big daddy—
—big daddy with the beefy cock.

or I’ll write poetry about mortality instead
and be frustrated by unrequited love
and my benefactor's remains will be kept quiet
by daily anti-rejection medication
until something else fails
and this rental falls due to the next tenants.

Maybe some part of me will remain
to be passed on to someone patient.
Maybe by then they'll be able to pass on
my hard drive with all its subdirectories and files
and he'll write poetry about mortality
and be frustrated by unrequited love

but i hope he buys a harley.

© Dan Goorevitch, 2000


There's this nurse—her name is Zeny
—face as bright as a newborn penny!

Zeny, Zeny, dialysis nurse!
you'll bust a gut riding in your hearse!

No one departs for the great hereafter
on her shift 'less he dies of laughter!

Not a few—not all—but many
cry Ze...ny! Ze...ny!...Ze...ny!...Ze...ny!

© Dan Goorevitch, 2001

Who Will Bury The Dolls?

A people have been hacked, hewed,
shaped, chiselled, filed, sharpened
kept cocked in the chamber
between hammer and flash;
Dolls of the line, Kali-like
children’s toys,
her girdle of cut-off hands,
her bracelet of skulls
now a handsome set of grenades.

Between the boot and the mounds of carcasses
bloated with gas stomps the goodly peasant
tramping down what the supervisor insists
be called no name but “dolls”
and the ships carrying desperate threads
to port after port and back to the scissors.
No port to land, no land to settle. What irony!

The reason why there’s a day of solidarity
is because there is none (couldn’t you guess?)
Not with those who look the other way
Not with those who preen and weigh their golden hair
—superpersons to the rescue (moralswise)—
burnishing their bona fides like drunks and their stories
stomping nothing but audience:
the peace- and warfulness that passeth underCanading.
Primitive nations at war? need the latest technology? Candu!

Similarly, the humiliation. Embarassment:
No place so no peace for the weary travellers
and our little dolls all grown up now.
Vegetables and bitter herbs all blown to bits
Raisins and virgins raining all day up in heaven.
We should hardly be surprised
—The objects were created to specifications
to finish the job.

But who will bury the dolls?
Will it be he who wanders
up and down and through
all the earth, the ungrateful one?
I see him now, two-faced and two-sided.
On one side hangs the figure,
the pièta, crowned by thorns, his cross
dug deep into the earth. In that earth,
rooted on the other side
upward begins to twist the trunk
of a hornéd gloating goat,
his eyes gleaming with satisfaction
as saint after saint
writhes against the ropes on their wrists
the piercing arrows of love and hate
and the wooden stakes that rend them.

Purple and yellow of bruises,
branches and needles banging,
the sky a dull ruddy anti-glow.

Eerily calm, Medea stalks the stage
a child under each arm
their shirts soaked in blood.

Son enters stage left


“Where have you been?”


“Fuck off!”


Why can’t you be like your brother?

Like Job?

Like Israel?


The News

under the streetlamp
—you live til the moment you die!

© Dan Goorevitch, 2001

Angels and Devils

to Andrea Jarmai

Beneath the hackneyed prose of the petition
you sent me I sensed a vague stirring
which in some circles passes for thought.

According to the author the ravening wolves,
the multinational pimps,
would halve the rainforest to chips.

At the risk of tainting our messages further
I posed a question:
What is the price of chips to the price of planks?

I’d rather err on the side of the angels you wrote
and it only takes a second to err
which surprised me

that you should let your seconds spill from your pockets
piling up in years indifferently devoted to correct
or erroneous efforts. This is not the poet I heard.

I responded with undisguised fatigue:
One hardly knows these days, Ms. Jarmai
the angels from the devils.

Mr. Goorevitch, your chided, you are using a euphemism
I told you I have three little ones at home
and you woke them when you called.

Next I responded by telling you
I am unread uneducated and illiterate;
my triplet sister reads and writes for me.

You had no answer, not for quite a while.
I was working on a letter at the time
on behalf of my mentor’s widow.

I see now that he was a “native artist”
something he never referred to
in the fifteen years I knew him.

I didn’t have a bedtime, he said,
We’d run around wherever we pleased
and come home when we got tired or hungry...

All artists have this in common:
A perfect childhood
suddenly cut short…

The young person dreams a better world than he lives in
then he learns to bring it out
That's his art.

When I became involved in politics he feared
there would be one less voice calling for a different world
made from the inside out.

Why must you rage against the despoiler
When you yourself are able
To recover your innocence?

© Dan Goorevitch, 2004

The Fire Bell

Someone should put a rope around his neck
next time he's on a ladder, just
kick it out.

This is what the devil really looks like
not some pointy-eared,
hairless, smiling

flamed engulfed Power, but
this tiny unhappy man

with shifty eyes.
He places the bell touching my wall
so it will clang but not ring.

Active, he
takes advantage of opportunity
to exercise his pathetic misanthropy.

We all know the song:
"If I had my way
"I would tear this "building down"

and so would I
sanction Amalek - root and branch,
run for mayor, get elected

set up a hook in Nathan Phillip Square,
impale the litterers.
I'd take the vote away from women too!

Somewhere out there a house painter
is leaving paint on panes of glass on purpose.
Somewhere out there

some poet saying "Jehovah" sent her
to tell us "El Shaddai" rejects
"the stiff-necked"

for rejecting Jesus.
In the afterlife,
so many editors

of small literary magazines
will burn in her quarries crammed
with flaming rejection slips,

hewing monuments and new tablets,
their whole bodies so many pitched thumbs
throbbing after the hammer strikes the bell.

© Dan Goorevitch, 2003


One day you find yourself in a lazy-boy recliner
green vinyl edition

and an obese bull dyke with a condescending smile says
"I'm your kidney doctor."

You've been suicidal and she helps you
by snapping when you complain the room is drafty.

"What are you telling me for?"
concern for her patient's comfort being beneath her.

Suddenly you have a reason to live:
to dance on her fucking grave.

© Dan Goorevitch, 2001

Saturday, February 2, 2008

In Częstochowa

to Grazina

Once upon a time
When the river Warta
Ran thru the town of Częstochowa

a woman stood on the tips of her toes
alone in a vast room
meticulously arranging her medical supplies.

There are things one remembers from childhood—
a picture of a Scotch Terrier (on a writing pad)
a yellow-haired girl sweeping a hearth (in a book)

or (a photograph): a toddler (me) pulling a violin out of a tin can—
more real than what we say “actually happened”
and so it was that, reaching above the dialysis machine,

silence was her accompanist, and she, rising and falling
betwen moon and undertow, turning
in her banks, over rocks, measure after measure—

Listen you—
You in the powder blue—
Cinderella, laughing,

bringing the waters of the Warta
here intact from Częstochowa
Dei gratia nova:

© Dan Goorevitch, 2003

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Parts

The parts of a busted doll
Strewn on a table
No longer strain to integrate the greater self.

The makers who passionately made her parts
No longer feel the urge to dash her brains
Against the nearest wall but, with shaking hands

Ascend with the patient corpse
Through skylight to midnight's electric storm, chanting:

There is a picture of poor mad Ivan
Holding his broken son, the eyes
Bulging, searching, vacant...

Gilt frames the edges of the family photograph.
Wake up at seven—the alarm clock will help you
To glue the shattered shards to make a cup

Of coffee

Dash out the house
The little plastic pieces
Trailing in your train.

Some get trapped in the door and
One weeping like a lost child
Roams the house alone to find

A tiny purple flower on the nervosa,
Showers of wicker; a solid orange column
Breaking between blue windows.

A latch, painted in place,
Amazingly works
Like a real object,

The doorknob an image
Is solidly felt
And really turns

The image is dim.
An old man.
Walking in a daze.

© Dan Goorevitch, 2001