Eliot Cardinaux

Poet/Pianist

Fallimpend — New Poetry by Eliot Cardinaux

unnamed


Artwork by Jeffrey Lipsky

“Xollapse”

Pastel and Inks on 16 x 20 inch Paper

www.facebook.com/jliparts


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

.

Thanks to Pierre Joris for his encouragement, especially 

in elucidating and making Celan’s influence more explicit.

.

Thanks to Jeffrey Lipsky for allowing me to use his piece, 

and for his generosity, always, in sharing his work with others.

.

Thanks to Sean Ali, whose own paintings have cleared the gap 

between me and my work so effectively that you — and I, and 

we — can better inhabit it.

.

Thanks to Mary Fairbanks for her active participation

in the continuing struggle that forced these words

into perceptible form.

.

And to Jade Wollin, for an unwavering foundation of love,

which finally allowed these poems to exist.

.


INTRODUCTION

.

My last poetic endeavor, The Scaffold in the Raina collaboration with Sean Ali, used his paintings as a structure around which to hang my words. Watching them, reading, decay around his images — words that became the scaffold under which the work itself is felt to rise up — brought to mind a gothic steeple, which Osip Mandelstam described in his manifesto “The Morning of Acmeism,” as stabbing the sky in outrage, because it is empty.

As Notre Dame burned this year in a Western uproar, a parallel silence was made clear in the face of otherness and — by apparent comparison — its seemingly quaint variety of suffering: the image of a Palestinian woman, grieving, embracing and guarding an olive tree, whom settlers intended to uproot; the inconvenient use of the term concentration camp to describe Trump’s immigrant-internment facilities along the U.S.-Mexican border; Walmart’s removal of violent-video-game displays, while automatic weapons remained on sale a few aisles away; and the astonishing number of species, not untold, but overwhelmingly unnoticed, gone extinct due to human consumption, waste, and neglect in the past half-century.

The speechless interruption of the existence of these — allowed-to-go-unspoken-for indifferently-by-human — beings — in contrast to the outcry afforded the Western cultural symbol of Christianity that is Notre Dame — was called to mind to me by Jerome Rothenberg’s poetic account of his visit to Treblinka, which he documented in his 1987 masterpiece Khurbn — an empty field with a few picnickers, in which the stones were rowed — in its own stark contrast to his experience of the tourists flooding Auschwitz during his visit there. It spoke of all that goes unspoken, unnoticed, and forgotten in dailyness..

To Paul Celan, poetry existed solely in relation to the time when it was written, rather than in general relation to a feeling of Time. This todayness — its Meridian, its dated-ness — Celan spoke of alongside another aspect of poetry: its essential darkness.

Mandelstam — whom Celan thought of as a brother, even though they never met — called for a greater love of the existence of a thing over the thing itself. It was the survival of the word toward which he sacrificed his own life; the continued existence of his poetry.

My poems do not attempt to recreate the poetic sentiments of these two great masters; rather, they pay homage to those interconnected poetics, by virtue of their todayness, situated as events. 

These are my events, for better or worse. If a poem withstands the voice, I have succeeded. If one can pick up the flayed branch and examine it, after the way has been cleared by machete, then the poem has an afterlife. If there is a poise with which these words unfold, it is toward the unknowable: breakable, brittle, bare.

Eliot Cardinaux
May 31, 2019

.


CONTENTS

.
  1. Borderlands
  2. After Celan XI
  3. After Celan XII
  4. After Celan XIII
  5. After Celan XIV
  6. After Celan XV
  7. For Osip Mandelstam III
  8. Inflicted
  9. The Ants
  10. Two Worlds
  11. Note
  12. The Sky Rings with Deafness
  13. Reckoning
  14. A Wishing-Well

 


FALLIMPEND


BORDERLANDS

.

For Ingeborg Bachmann

.

Life swirls in concealment.

Memory, cradled in absence

cannot hide

a sepulchral catharsis

triggered in the neutral sky.

.

A camp behind the eyelids,

the flame has turned 

from the wick,

and the water in our eardrums pressed the dead

who outnumber the living.

.

But the answer is numb, now,

rises like a funnel of air,

a night whistle

tattooed there, black as the sun,

where no lash resides.

.

And ash rims the soil 

of the country of your soul;

exile tore down the heaven

toward which it opened:

a poet’s borderland.

.


AFTER CELAN

.

XI

.

My memory is two rooms away,

her crocus, greycouched.

Bitter stems are drinking

salt water from Palestine’s eyes.

.

There are those whom I mourn

and that which I remember,

but this is what I stole:

.

that honey that the bees

made of your body, 

sitting here, just now.

.


.

XII

.

Remittal,

coin of the unexplored,

you fell upon a mute,

immobile mouth.

.

The glass erupted,

finger-grazed,

of a dime 

of darkness.

.


.

XIII

.

Trauma,

that blindness, that

lavender metal,

.

innocence

crouched like a wound

and its hollowed-out 

.

double,

everthinking

mindbramblestorm.

.

Look, the way it

holds still.

.


.

XIV

.

How can this leaf

belong to you, mother,

when all the morning sigils 

moneychoke

that birthindebtedness;

when the airthorn

tore your voice.

.


..

XV

.

Defenseless,

you 

.

carve into 

silence

.

the root-

taken

husk,

your

.

king-under

threat,

.

fall-silent.

.


FOR OSIP MANDELSTAM

.

III

.

As my shadow reminds me,

.

I surrender like a flag

until the fall 

.

stripped of its colors

from the state

.

decides to drop its leaf.

.

I have heard they change 

the subject

.

when it’s said:

.

I know a poet-thief.

.

When a dog steps on his shadow

it’s said

.

he shivers.

.


INFLICTED

.

Summer has risen

above my neck,

your eyes, so young,

in cataracts.

.

Your footprints

pepper the asphalt

like a sunflower.

.

May the clip-clop 

in the lobby of their heels 

like horses move enough to strip

the smooth interior 

.

of my nostalgic heart,

so skilled a fool am I.

.


THE ANTS

.

They are just like us.

Our sky is their sky;

we are just as small.

.

They also burn 

when you magnify

the light against them.

.

(The pressure of the light.)

.


TWO WORLDS

.

Sister,

from whence do you climb,

in thickets

sickled

like honeysuckle.

.

Moving across a field

with horizons and walls

to keep you small:

.

this metal ring

that pinches

the breast of summer.

.


NOTE

.

For Gary Fieldman 

.

I dig your digging under, 

digging out uplifting,

pulling the black plough.

.

That thing about the trees,

it can be anywhere.

.

I saw a tree that

swallowed it, and questioned

how to construct

a thing that is.

.


THE SKY RINGS WITH DEAFNESS

.

For Ilya Kaminsky

.

The sky rings with metal,

another tomorrow’s sky.

Where are the people?

What are the events?

.

What matters most now

is the sun in the sky.

They’re hiding it,

.

like the moon,

like trees.

.

I remember that day, now.

The light was so bright;

otherworldly.

.

All this experience,

and life, no drama,

flits across a second

sky, made out of two flags.

.

No birds.

.

The bristling pine stands a flagpole

for other wanderers to go by.

.

Another tomorrow’s sky.

.


RECKONING

.

With you

I’m deaf to everything.

Even the piano

deafens in my ear.

.

An illness is not

a raided nest,

and snakes do not fly

without the veins in my arms

.

you were afraid of:

a ridge of black mountains,

flaring in the heat.

.

Unrest is the sober, painful

“and” that a sentence 

finally begins with.

.

Always the one song you need,

but you’d rather 

it wasn’t there.

.


A WISHING-WELL

.

Chimera,

your chimera

dies;

.

your clock

no longer has hands

to move around.

.

Each poem breaks

the same cage

brewing underground

.

the same

perfect artifact

reaching its

.

like-perfect stasis.

Censors unseen

wanting to say:

.

I hope you miss me;

wanting to write:

this self-fulfilling

.

prophecy 

I’ve written

will 

.

miss you;

I hope you’re wading 

into shore.

.


.

All Poetry by Eliot Cardinaux

All Rights Reserved

© 2019

Advertisements

Four Poems from “Guide to Torment”

These poems were written as part of my early chapbook, Guide to Torment. Inspired by the memoir End to Torment, which H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), the Imagist poet, wrote about her friend, one-time lover, and fellow poet Ezra Pound, this series deals with the problem of latent (at the time when I wrote it; winter 2014-15), and sadly, the rise of fascism in the United States. H.D. wrote the memoir around the time Pound was released from hospital care at St. Elizabeth’s in Washington, D.C., where he was held for insanity. Read the rest of this entry »

2 Poems on the theme of “Borderlands”

The difficulty in making use of metaphor surrounding the holocaust, for myself, as a non-Jewish person (Ingeborg Bachmann (see below), however, was the non-Jewish daughter of an Austrian Nazi, only 18 years old when the war ended), is very contentious, because, what we have happening in certain parts of the country (along the border in particular…) and in parts of the world, including, I know especially, for example, Palestine, is comparable, if not in scope than in deed, and, in the case of Trump’s detention centers, at the very imperative dialectical least, in glaring potential. I think it is the very difficulty in writing about such things, as Pierre Joris once wrote to me, similarly, about his own work translating the holocaust poet Paul Celan (who was also a great love of Bachmann, both in their lives and work), that makes it so rewarding.


BORDERLANDS

.

    For Ingeborg Bachmann

.

Life swirls in concealment.

Memory, cradled in absence

cannot hide

a sepulchral catharsis

triggered in the neutral sky.

.

A camp behind the eyelids,

the flame has turned

from the wick,

and the water in our eardrums pressed the dead

who outnumber the living.

.

But the answer is numb, now,

rises like a funnel of air,

a night whistle

tattooed there, black as the sun,

where no lash resides.

.

And ash rims the soil

of the country of your soul;

exile tore down the heaven

toward which it opened:

a poet’s borderland.

.


AFTER CELAN

.

XVI

.

Sky-

artifice

in jagged

greys;

.

nostalgia,

scouring

the resonant

rock-

known no-

threshold,

.

look along

the borderland:

.

the guestless,

heaven-known

reminder-child-

small, yet

here-again

face.

.


 

DREADSUMMER — New Poems by Eliot Cardinaux

Temple of the Priest Kings


.

Artwork by Jeffrey Lipsky

“Temple of the Priest Kings”

Acrylic and Graphite on 3 x 3 ft Canvas

https://www.facebook.com/JLipArts

.


DREADSUMMER


SIGIL

(For Sean Ali)

.

Shadows of

sunset under eyelids

hover over sleep.

I grieve my splinter out.

.

The wind made a lap 

in the heart. In the iris 

a reel flaps with bright 

white birdsong.

.


AFTER CELAN

.

VI

.

The thrice-flayed,

thrice-frayed leaf

in the mantle

of the stem

.

clearquestions

the ground-

gap;

.

that shrieking,

idiot 

glory,

when 

.

will it speak?

Tomorrow-

after.

.


.

VII

.

Crocus:

drinking,

the salt-weed

stems

behind

you,

ever-through.

.

Existence,

tipped

by the threshold

greys

.

a

darkness

of dried bees.

.


.

VIII

.

Lacquer,

your stoneway, 

stamen, arch

.

your tongue a wound’s

and the body corroding

.

rushes

infecting the poppy

with ivory wrists

.

of that white-red,

light-black 

.

leaf in the window,

has no face.

.

Ellipsis of a crown

grown paler, 

thrown-shadowed

revolt, 

where my stem is buried.

.


.

IX

.

They arrive,

but not train-grey

bespoke through

thought-brambles,

pigeon-red.

.

Charred metal,

candles’ — of 

a heat, their

fallimpendant

trace, 

ellipses us:

.

a scaffold

stabbing a lost vowel.

.


.

X

.

One day I too will write you,

no letter to say,

this one,

true thing:

.

to rotate 

beyond, behind

the eyefilm,

.

mantlebranched:

your word.

.


FOR OSIP MANDELSTAM

.

II

.

I remember you caught me

looking up at the blossoms.

They fell like skirts on my thighs,

and I still see the color

violet, burning through my chest.

.

I carry my history blind, like a shame.

I drag it like a weapon behind me.

.

I lay these things down for the first time

in a grave beside your image,

saying these things out loud.

.


ELIJAH

.

Left, wine-red

at the trunk of summer,

an offering of names

grown into poppies

.

folds into 

compass-points,

quivering Southwest.

.

Those ditched in the blood

now leave the door open.

The fence’s frost

heaves over.

.

Never among the dead.

.


INACTION

.

Here, you improvise the earth

and the broken tracks smile.

.

From a borrowed 

rib,

evolves: 

eternity.

.

The threadbare eye

into my unknowing 

closes, and factories

sleep in the grass.

.

This dream is my mosquito,

the dark our blood,

and the lenses of our eyes

float like trees on a river of air.

.

Black spotlights,

the whips of wakefulness

flutter like a broken drum

and talk of monotones.

.


THE WISH

.

To the walking reflection 

made one by Pygmalion’s prayer

belongs the cunning, empty shard

.

unfurling,

in a temple of hands that swing like music 

from the bars of the brain,

the story of a three-pieced single god.

.

Toward a sky of clear veins —

vanished prison, 

your laughter breached a cloud,

rains upward 

into black lands.

.

To words 

in the voice of wounds

you speak now, remove my lips

from a dream

which towers over danger.

.

And my multifold angers —

the roots of an oak

drenched in peace,

will snarl and light up a prayer.

.


ELEGY 

.

Above the ruins,

echo of a pale orange flame,

a young girl billows

rosewindowing the edge,

a skeleton that men can climb

to build a steeple out of chaos.

.

When dawn is another sky

you can see it from broad white day.

I have learned it from the laughter of schoolgirls:

how to kill, and veered 

like a kestrel above a warship

into blue from another blue

to camouflage a sky.

.


WHEELRUTS

.

As a landscape 

rolls off my back

I glimpse an open road.

.

The hollow and the dirt

make blue music on my brow

and the green uprooted days, discarded,

water a tree in my lungs.

.

No man escapes

the tracks he’s on until tomorrow

in a blur of high grasses

sinks into thunder

and the shock of his life wears off.

.


PROCESSION

.

When I lost you I wrote of sleep.

The dark lit a magnitude of rain.

Your breathing broke across the bow.

.

A dream is a broken sentence,

a poem directing me strangely

toward an abyss.

.

I walk with my nostrils down 

the crowded road and through the hum

I remember that basement desert

of damp nothing.

.

You are found on the road of the grave of God,

your last line lifting a heavy spade.

.


ANALYSIS

.

Receding from the questions of my figure

I become the other, and then I become the same.

.

But I always wait with corrosive stars by my side.

.

I melt with the snow of humidity

and my heart does not beat;

.

I follow.

.

I write in a language of dead ruins

with nowhere to go

and the ribs of my myth carry lungs that are spoken for.

.

I build out of dust a character

who plays your part.

.


MARKET

.

I lay my oasis down

like a carpet of stars

and I am alone.

.

A fragment: it catches 

on the breeze

.

the distance between

a desert and the road. 

.


PRAYER

.

With blackness I light up the sun.

A dampening cell in a shower of oil begging 

one end of a battery.

.

I cup in my hands the wound

of that unimaginability

.

and aching with actions

a distant grey heart

filtered through the factory.

.


ALLEGORY

.

A snake was charmed

on the eve of possession,

a spider whose every thread 

.

is a bridge whose attentions are trophies,

watery torso 

.

of a lover’s last poem

whose head witnessed everything at once.

.

Their escape is the smoke 

from a flame that erases

.

everything but absence 

for your rage to fill:

.

black water

under the light of migraines,

a bullet 

brought weak death two scales.

.


THE VOICE AND ITS ECHO

.

I stand in the fire between us,

void of a sun that waters

roadways on your cheeks

to flood a desert. 

.

The harvest gave birth to a sky

as black as cradles

and white as your name,

so I remove the mirror.

.

And the Earth stands before us,

weeping like a rose

that has grown there, 

burning like a prophecy.

.

Until the logic of that dream,

sucked up through black tunnels

fuels what we know to be,

we are nameless: the voice and its echo.

.


ASSIMILATION

.

It is constantly changing.

One week folds into another

and our calendars cannot keep up.

.

It is two violins from the east

come to grips with the west,

the CD skipping 

in an ambient 

click of the heart.

.

But the desert is not a road,

an oasis from which all roads diverge

like the notes of a scale

as we wake from heaven.

.


TALE

.

An oriole of the ear, 

his viola a lever 

of unchosen names

frightened rain into a coffin.

.

Dipped into a wound

to paint with color

the sun and the sky

had behaved so badly.

.

A spider

I am feeding —

flies on a web,

to the book of dreaming.

.


A PRESENT HISTORY OF AIR

(For Adonis)

.

As her rest unfolds

her decision to sleep

lifts up the mountains

scoring the jagged air.

.

As she can breathe

she places her limbs

in a row like seedlings

and it begins to rain.

.

As it is questioned

the air becomes poems

reaching out beyond

this time of ashes.

.

In a storm each will 

sever itself on a thorn

from the poet erasing

himself and herself

.

as the rose grows deep

in the azure, keeping

one thought for itself,

that the present is history.

.


ALL POETRY BY ELIOT CARDINAUX

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© 2019

.

DISSENTSPRING — New Poems by Eliot Cardinaux


.

Artwork by Jeffrey Lipsky

“Demon of Thieves”

Mixed media on 3 x 3 ft. canvas

www.facebook.com/jliparts

.


Read the rest of this entry »

New Release: Magpie: Six Feet on Solid Ground

Magpie album cover

Cover artwork by Zoe Christiansen

Magpie (DK/US)

Six Feet on Solid Ground

Eliot Cardinaux – piano, voice, poetry

Asger Thomsen – bass, objects

Jeppe Høi Justesen – drums, percussion, cymbals

Read the rest of this entry »

New Release: Winter Poems

Winter Poems (cover image)

Artwork by Zoe Christiansen (Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík, Iceland)

As some of you know, in November of last year I began composing a series of Winter Poems. These were originally spurred by a trip to Reykjavík, Iceland, where I performed solo, at a small venue called Mengi. They have grown from there into a chapbook that I am happy to announce the release of. First of all, thank you to Skúli Sverisson and Ólöf Arnalds for hosting and inspiring me in Iceland, and to my partner Jade Wollin, and my father Robert Cardinaux, who have both been a marvelous help in fine-tuning these bits of verse. The book is dedicated to Skúli and Ólöf, both musicians whose music helped lay the foundation for the poetry within. Winter Poems is also dedicated in part to the memory of Olle Kruijt, a friend who commissioned a poem last year whom I found out passed away suddenly, before I could send it.

The chapbook releases officially on February 11th through my press and label, The Bodily Press, and will be available then to order online through my Bandcamp page in physical format only.

 

Notes on the Inner Life of Piano

In 2016 I was living in Boston after graduating New England Conservatory. The world I believed I belonged to was like American English, in that it only accounted for that within earshot, and although I listened, I could never hear the sound of bells that rang outside its walls – that which was too far to hear unless there was a breeze. Hence, I felt guarded against all that was in my periphery. And so I naturally knew to become just that: the sidelong glance of a thief, a strand of poetry abandoned by a world leader after it became too much to wrestle with. I hid like the outline of writing on the layer of paper underneath the page that is torn off the pad. All it would take was to rub the flat end of a pencil across my spirit to reveal me. Nonetheless, I focused my intention like the eye-patch of a horse that is all but blind, and I waited for silence: a particular silence, accompanied by the sound that is left in one’s ears as someone hangs up the phone having been the bearer of bad news. Read the rest of this entry »

New Book Release: By the Hand

By the Hand.jpgCover artwork by Zoe Christiansen

Read the rest of this entry »

New Release: Sweet Beyond Witness

As some of you know, I have decided to pack my bags, and take leave of the city of Boston, where I have lived for the past four years. As I prepare to move out to the rural countryside of Western Massacusetts, again, I am finally gaining some much needed perspective on my life during my time here. There is evidence of that fact.

Read the rest of this entry »