188.1: Dan Rosenberg:: It Called Me a Hunger I Believed & Bearing in Teeth My Invitation & My Beloved Is Mine and I Am & But Yes I Have Sir Have Tried Sir I & Angel of the Smoke Machine Angel 188

I live on the LA river. It's where I walk the dog. You may know it from film—Gattaca, Chinatown, the chase scenes in Grease and Terminator 2. The list goes on. It's not really a river, not in the way we think of one, but for most of its twenty-seven miles, it's just a huge cement wash. The portion I live on is earthen however. Below the 5 freeway, mallard and heron preen themselves, catfish pop crayfish from under rock, and brown and black bullhead run. I mention it because it seems a fitting introduction to this week's selection from Dan Rosenberg. The work here is baroque, almost otherworldly, creating a place unto itself. Once we allow ourselves into the meditation Rosenberg's language creates—if we let his wild retake us—he brings us startlingly back to confront the present, the contemporary, the now. It is the river, it is the city. Nik De Dominic

It Called Me a Hunger I Believed


but in the dream my wings tear wildly
from shoulder sockets like plumes     a pair
of smoke machines or ghost mouths whitened
by flirtation with death     they pummel
     the air is their unruly horse it

takes the beatings with a kind of slow
whimpered silence     it holds me above
the people buying selling fucking
the night     a holy commerce orgy

     but it must be a holiday fire
sale of the city to pure wanting
     from up here my vision is reddened
I can see only the contrails left
by human bustle     each body just

the tip of a worm white with purpose
     from up here the slither visible
as I tear higher I find myself
some creature of prey in the updraft

tearing upward my gaze     I see more
creatures like me the wings the talons
dripping and upon us dripping some
greater hunger we are swirling toward
     the still dark center of the heavens




Bearing in Teeth My Invitation


halfway through the sycamore I am
in sight of the red temple aloft
     its blood gables and Star of David
clutch between branches     some new midrash
burbles like sap stabbed into the air

while I grip and hoist the stripping bark
each grope exfoliates     my path is
marked by yellow literate gashes
     what I climb is heavy bearing name

against me     some parasite     am I
within as always leaping distance
but such terrestrial dirt am I
     crawling the vertical respiring
shade     I hear the synagogue settle

for what flightless sacrifice am I
reaching upward to the double gates
     unfurled as if the wings of justice
were for me a thin water feature

I pass through with paper-tasseled fists
     the gnarled rabbis stumble their secret
language into what seems one long name
for a gentle god I can’t buy     not
here     not nameless crawling upward I




My Beloved Is Mine and I Am


still circling the airport like a moth
pivoting toward a false moon I am
unsure of my car     my route     these roads
knotted like a disease I follow
faithfully the signs they say to yield

     it’s what I’m made of yielding and light
with powdered wings always beyond my
eyes’ tangents     while above the hole has
grown ragged with light     is it dawn or

a birth more monstrous still the pilots
all taut and crisp-eyed circle far more
cleanly than my misguided     blindly
misguided but not without a guide
     route I am following the hole in

the heavens have ordered a leaking
upon my upturned face     this sharp rain
filling my convertible while I
twitch lifting toward what drips its lifeblood

into my shoulders     I see two planes
mate among the stars     one fuselage
constricts inside the other’s claw one
red beak strikes down at the beloved
mouth open not to speak     to swallow




But Yes I Have Sir Have Tried Sir I


have burnished have blasphemed have bettered
myself in a stew of pedagogues
for years     have sported the mortar board
beneath my civilian cap     have gone
down long the path of masturbation

through discourse pitched to ears divorced from
blood pump or gut flora or deep brain
lurching in the body’s persistent
     have left behind the body’s ninety

eight point six degrees of mattering
     as Mr Eigen once instructed
in language arts to flay the sentence
and pin its parts upon the worksheet
     have so flayed Mr Eigen have pinned

and come to a self dedicated
to persistent weather and the dead
and what they’ve shed to us     but found
not the shouting throat to match my own

awful shouts     not the half-harmony
have longed for since you Mr Eigen
skipped over but one Holy Sonnet
that outlived the butcher packet     one
too sexed self Donne offered to the lord




Angel of the Smoke Machine Angel


in the crush and mosh of it     the spill
of human frail arrhythmic bouncing
of one fragile blonde beside me     her
hands like French doors in a hurricane
     all together we have summoned this

plinth angles against our chests     it’s perched
on the laser lights the pinions of some
immaterial man preaching through
a microphone of Jesus a bit

but mostly himself     says you won’t find
love in a hole
his wings bleed white from
the twenty-seven incandescents
it takes more than fucking someone you
don’t know to keep warm
he announces

to one hundred fifty-six devout
monogamists     our tongues are slave flesh
hitched to his song     in the afterburn
of not touching each other we are

all fully present in orbits here
beneath the stage     his throat unfurls a
scripture above our dampened heads     he
tests his reach     the angel christens us
animal animal animal