Mouth is a sound. Voice is
a sound. Molding of mouth
is a sound. Molding of voices is a sound and
not response – because
who bays under the vowels
rings to infinity.
A day is a day is a room is a shadow
is a woman is a dog is a bed is a lamp
is even you. (“PRESENTING ROBERT CREELEY,” Jean Daive, trans. Norma Cole)
I am disappointed to hear that the third issue (2017) of Pallaksch, Pallaksch is the final [see my review of the first issue here], a trade volume of poetry edited by Elizabeth Robinson and Steven Seidenberg and produced through Instance Press. Deliberately including hefty sections by each author, this new issue features work by George Albon, Oana Avasilichioaei, Kate Colby, Jean Daive (trans. Norma Cole), Moyna Pam Dick, Steve Dickison, Ossian Foley, William Fox, Peter Gurnis, Carrie Hunter, Rodney Koeneke, Marie Larson, Pattie McCarthy, Rachel Moritz, Beth Murray, Frances Richard, James Sherry, B.J. Soloy and Craig Watson. Frustratingly (for me, at least), this is a journal that exists without bios (but at least I have google). I was quite taken with the work by French poet Jean Daive, translated by Canadian expat (and active translator) Norma Cole. This is not the first time Cole has translated Daive’s work, as she has translated a handful of volumes of his work into English, most recently A Woman with Several Lives (La Presse, 2012)and White Decimal (Omnidawn, 2017) [see my essay here in which I speak to Cole directly about one of her translations]. I’m fascinated by the blend of precise language and abstract thought in this sequence. As Daive writes, via Cole: “You seemed like – an unfolded alphabet // baying // with this idea that still shakes.”
I drank, and I turned into a liquid, and I spilled onto the ground, and people stepped into me. And they slipped.
My holes frighten me. Today there are twenty-three of them. Some moist, some dry and rough. One or two so small only an ant could enter them.
Yesterday I was impenetrable. A glass marble with a blue wave or ribbon inside it. Today I am being punished.
It’s best when I am a marble that is also opaque.
For instance, white with an orange swirl.
Then God wishes to win me.
Instead, something is running up and down inside my body. it’s trampling my nerves.
The townspeople speak of a dybbuk. But my mama never wanted to be near me, much less inside of me. And my papa is still living.
Perhaps it’s my own future spirit. So misanthropic that it can bear to haunt only me, thus it must get started early.
Or else it is a stranger who could be cherished. A young religious man, an artistic French girl, an old grocer, a spinster who bites her nails, a Chinese poet. (“from I AM WRITING YOU FROM AFAR,” Moyna Pam Dick)
What really allows the work in Pallaksch, Pallaksch to shine is the journal’s openness to longer sections, allowing each author to stretch out, whether with an array of shorter pieces, or longer poems and/or excerpts that might not be possible in other journals. Pattie McCarthy’s section includes a healthy selection of poems from her QWEYNE WIFTHING (see my recent review of such here), and Oana Avasilichioaei’s excerpt from “TRACKING ANIMAL (A SURVIVAL)” stretches and pulls apart description, tracking and providing a sequence of small points: “If already / the others instinct the auto of my animal, / an i bios.” And I appreciate being reminded of the work of the late Beth Murray, her logical disconnects that somehow highlights far deeper connections, as she writes in her poem “FULL BELLIES”:
now there is never a wood, only ridge-tops
but the mountain underneath is writing it differently
and the conifer-people often empty in their bellies,
when firest take the inner pith and xylem,
bark and cambium lining it survive
do you know what pulls water up the trunk?
pressure in roots less than soil draws in liquid
evaporating water from leaves creates surface tension
pulls liquid up
root pressure is highest in the morning before stomata in leaves opens
stomata are the mouths that expel mist of breath
we are used to being humans who like full bellies
belly tells us when it wants food
The pieces in Pallaksch, Pallaksch are very much engaged with the minutae of language, with an overlap of concerns seen in another late, lamented journal, 6x6, produced by Brooklyn’s Ugly Duckling Presse [see my review of their final issue here]. There is a great deal of impressive work in this issue by a multitude of authors. Despite mourning the loss of this journal, I will keep my eye out for whatever the editors might decide to do next.
the world is less and less abiogenetic. aphids spring from the dew that collects on leaves, flies from putrid waste, mice from the hayloft, crocodiles from fallen trees at the bottom of a river
a mouse and snake jumped into a boat
the boat turned into my stomach
I think I’m dying (“FROM AN UNTITLED POEM,” Marie Larson)