Fallimpend — New Poetry by Eliot Cardinaux
by Eliot Cardinaux
Artwork by Jeffrey Lipsky
Pastel and Inks on 16 x 20 inch Paper
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.
My last poetic endeavor, The Scaffold in the Rain, a 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.
May 31, 2019
- After Celan XI
- After Celan XII
- After Celan XIII
- After Celan XIV
- After Celan XV
- For Osip Mandelstam III
- The Ants
- Two Worlds
- The Sky Rings with Deafness
- A Wishing-Well