Provisional Measures gnomon press COPYRIGHT © 1966 BY CHARLES STEIN ——— Some of these poems have appeared in The Columbia Review, IO, gnomon, and Angel Hair. for Josie I Reading Basil Valentine in a Mountain Cabin The clogged air. The mountain rises in it as if only through the foggy morning to aither, higher, clearer air above it, clouds only — that simple. Sewage passes under the cabin, I hear at 5 a.m., earliest and quietest time I am up passing it seems from right under the mountain. The fog-brained alchemist says, sees this too: for the earth is nourished with stinking dung and precious fruits are produced thereby. The pine light starts breath of gods collected over the mountain, the wind and the sun now in it make the mist by 9 skim the water slide over the cold surface of it, the sunrise burning tips of the water mist have seen the Bride cleansed of all impurity in the fiery bath which enables her to lie in the bridal bed with her chosen spouse as honey, he says, comes indirectly from the ordure of beasts but in another place, by “feces” it is clear he means any precipitate and the light remains uncertain. Shit stays shit then. or does it? I am constantly manufactured, constantly changed by fashioned to what hands, the woods, “our art” am I the mage, the doctor, or as it seems my body, the patient I am in turning the light in its variety through the branches • The Bride is the soul and she waits in her chamber, the body, the woods for the spiritual word, her Bridegroom to take her up to take her veils off, the mists, say, from the water even the thick of these words, these woods have “soul” in them, made right for the spirit, something from outside a light appearing a distant character infused made ready by affinity and repulsion of opposite natures. He offers an experiment: Place a live spider inside a circle formed by the strip of the skin of an unicorn and you will observe that the spider will not be able to pass. gives little encouragement— o courageous who pass into the ring-pass-not The water, the Bride, then, the sun, whose warm morning takes the mist up off of it, Christ the Bridegroom. I still have trouble with the wording and who exactly these characters are, what shit’s supposed to be why the flushings of all these mountain toilets put in since last year come running it seems from out of the mountain just when I get up to breathe— my air is stopped through which I cannot pass but hold to the light that invisibly abounds in it as any hunter II Classical Studies The Rake held off. But the men arrived with truck loads of cocoanuts. They came from neighboring islands and from friends across the ocean with local interests. The edges of matter swarm. Atomoi swarm. Plumed with palm fronds the soldiers come out of the trees. Sophocles was the general there. by reason of merit. Oedipus the Tyrant. by reason of merit. Orpheus lived in a cave humbling monsters charming the powers of death. Kuniskos hounded at Zeus. But having a body is like having a big dog. You wash it muzzle it keep it from the bitches stuff it full of food. therapeuon ta onta The philosopher doesn’t want something to eat. The poet bakes sweet cakes. The powers of death hum in the muscles like bees. ———— Agricola in agro est They tend the grass. The grass grows brown under so much snow. I never did write that poem about the cows or how much we do not resemble ourselves. Demand a more functional existence. what the sun does not reveal (to) us what however we prejudice ourselves to the moon what we no longer learn from the ocean. Who can see clear enough to make use of the momentum pushes our days? If any god spoke to the mayor. It is no use to make interesting constructions of no use to turn in on our rhetoric the god displays. winter. are cows in the fields? or go on praising ourselves in the old manner. a possible further beneficence a use for human beings ——— She puts her hands in her pockets and walks out smiling, home. the pockets of air. derided by night-jackets. jack-knives for the moment folded. the air waits. one light. war rages. But in the restaurant visited nightly seizing an orange. the snow of the air. oppressed by crocuses, roses. The Kore, in a field. a list of familiar flowers. His hand rising out of the earth disguised with one hundred blooms. pomegranate. the year changes. How many, in how many places putting coats on their bodies going home. each woman at the sun's altar. altering the seasons, turning the wind. what did I do wrong? he said. the air waits. it is as if someone were watching. only the sun saw. ——— The mythology was too grave. Who could live in a house of constant satisfaction, clarity and motion a walking through trees in the sun. Hear bells in the air, hear stars threatening the false pulse, the traffic, the systems which inadequately interlock, threaten with a grave mythology, a set of images. We do not choose this place of closed air. the posture of our poems beyond us. the river which is also the substance of granite flowing. the flatness which is also the depths we do not feel. ——— III Four Part Passage I a field down a long hill. And two men approached each other for no reason. And he said you have no reason why do you do this? And Death said you do not know the right reason and Death departed from the company and the man was with him at the bottom of the hill. They went off in a pale light. And we who were left told each other what would happen. Two men approached each other with guns from the distant ends of a field down a long hill. 2 Jewels. encased near the eye. A wall of lights. This was death. She was young in a corner of the gymnasium How many girls I ask you it was too late the mothers died in child birth you were laughing? laughing. This was death. I am trembling but I kissed your lips you would be my passage, young though you were, through the wall close to my eye of jewels light of themselves and dark with no source. 3 You can buy a book in a drug store in this century it will detail. remembrance will be terrible then will they tell you? Aeons and aeons of what cannot be time. But you can buy a book in any drug store will they tell you? The dream said the seeking of form does not end you are granted a certain clarity then. Can you buy in any drug store the usable rubrics But the time is almost with us. The dream said. We can no longer distinguish the dead from the living, psychopomp from psychotic leading us living through sleep fields of a dry light a plastic clarity. The distance seems short you are almost home. Those of us who are alive hold the dead in our arms longing for home. There are guns we have to use them. Death said but this is not bad for you. She was young and she trembled will they tell you I woke with her lips on my lips she was a passage 4 There are so many dreams in my body the triangular face of the magus I close my eyes wore dark rings and fiery clothes. I have a sword he said death enters your language dance as if to the fire I call up. You have no sword he said there is a fire I call up into the world of the living but you shall not see it so lost you are in the rhetoric of your concern. In my body was a deep sea the mourners watch. Know you your fear he said Outside the ring and the circle the sea rolls. IV Provisional Measures He erects magic squares on yellow cards. He shines blue lights in a closed room on her. He cures a common cold. In order to cut ahead he leads his followers back one hundred years and leaves them there. They do not resurface in this lifetime. His followers die from methadrine or become leaders of antiquated orders or devisive abandon the System. No one follows what they mean by this. The details of an organism examined differently. Ideas are everywhere and used by everyone for old purposes. He denies God or the social system or finds God. Light flashed off tin-foil under grape-vines. between the bunches. botruos. Some become lions and deny their orthodox humanity. Some become bigger than life and ‘transcend their bestial nature.’ Human beings. might say galactic mass. Packed in. Tighter than anything. Everything is true in its own habitation. We cannot evaluate the effects of his operation. Magic squares. An adolescent concern with order and dissipation. A magical language abstracted from the most common of phonemes, in effect, to hold his body together. He draws concentric oblongs on a page. Paint our rooms blue. Invent our eyes. He asks of them ultimate questions. Through a film of stars on the fringes of our galaxy another galaxy and the unanswered denseness of its interior. He knows what that he is and smiles showing black teeth. abandons the System. is expelled from the Order. He assembles his admirers and orders their lives. He won't let them into his house. sunlight electric on the top of blue wine, moving. light on many rivers. eats no beans. Provisional measures. meters. humanitas. anthropos. Brachyo-cephalic the better to hold bags on their heads. of water. Leads his people and dies at the edge of the desert. Reappears and fathers bastards. Receives bribes from beneficent abortionists and comforts young women. Invents a pill to alter nucleic acids. Faces the wall for nine years, knows, until his legs fall off. Is left behind with the Arabs and dies in a sand pit under the sun. His camels reach Cairo with gold. True in its own habitation, he lives in hideous houses. Those who stand still, know of his need for power. Some define the pathos. Some stand still so long they arrive at the center of the earth. In the next room might say galactic mass next possible place. He follows the others into the elevator and does not know where he is. Gets out. His friend who has been in the room ushers the others away and slowly reads the ordered pages of a certain book to him. He notes the water the steam coming up in the pipes, the blood coming up in his body, his breath and is near to the electric of his system. might say galactic mass. chalk-marks in the media of consciousness. lights across the sky. Printed in an edition limited to 500 copies by Graham Mackintosh, June, 1966, for gnomon press, 1171 Alabama Street, San Francisco, California 94110.