On scraps of paper and in
were numbers of busses
in widely spaced cities:
“best—63 or 83” scribbled,
National Museum of This and That
but in what city? And
“179. Connects at Pioneer.”
Nothing personal. On the front,
end-of-the-line street names.
Flash of a window, another life,
tremulous perspective on
an as yet unnamed
as the repository of her wanderings,
she wants something tremendous
from any notebook. So this one
is just trash. Nothing. Wants
every memory linked to its locale.
Every mark with a plausible rationale.
As if accretion and details, one next
to the other, could ever evoke
the oceanic quotidian. That’s why
a diario extime appealed to me.
“Exterior diary.” No intimacy.
No description. Just fact.
Now I want to ask some questions.
Is our privilege painful; or do you think
we can make good use of it—
Better than others would?
Have you ever mixed your own glue?
Did it stick? for how long?
Then ask: what do I want.
Because it’s always doubled or more.
Every page—it’s a monoprint but done
in series, each varied, slightly altered.
Are you sure that’s a monoprint?
Are you sure you know what you’re talking about?
Is your resistance to norms a real choice
or just a chi-chi genre paradox?
Remembering one thing that was
the thing I thought
I wanted, when or
whenever I had set these
things aside to “look at later”
forces me to the side of the road.
It was never the right time.
This is ridiculous.
So when is later,
I have to ask you,
is it now, cannot
get any later than this, right?
Truth to tell
it could get even later, but
even the question’s problematic,
no time to reflect
no time now to make
what I might want:
Which is pure Alterity—
a poem like nothing ever seen
or heard in the realm of poems.
Now it’s I haven’t practiced enough.
Now I set too much aside.
Now it’s gone dead, compromised.
The sorrows intercut
and time itself, the concept and the fact,
are baffling; today’s already shut.
3. Never Written
Why must you run before you walk
always? And be tripping over
these confusions, like extra legs.
Can’t you be content
with a stable graded surface
on which to take a nicely spandex-ed jog?
When they said “Break a Leg!”
you didn’t figure how that
No, you have to want what’s
damagingly impossible–what’s your point?
An extended page, some quotes cut from newspapers
in which trailers of other lives, straggles
of string, or ripped fabric
half used paper
half-readable notes, public debris
envelopes written on the backs of
tie to other trashed pages
picked up in a flurry
for a phone number, a shopping list, a diagnosis,
a world-evoking color,
a word collage including bits and bots—what
are you actually trying for?
Is this some mode
you think is manageable?
And after all those years, to learn so little?
Why can’t you simply be content?
Rachel Blau DuPlessis, poet, critic, collagist, is the author of the multi-volume long poem Drafts (1986-2012) and the collage-poem NUMBERS (2018). Her newest project is a multi-book long poem called Traces, with Days. These are Days and Works (Ahsahta, 2017), Late Work, forthcoming 2020 from Black Square Editions, Around the Day in 80 Worlds (BlazeVOX, 2018), and the book from which “Diaries” comes, Poetic Realism (in circulation).