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RON SILLIMAN

Ron Silliman has written and edited 26 books to date, most recently Under Albany. Between 1979 and 2004, he wrote a single poem, entitled The Alphabet. In addition to Woundwood, a part of VOG, volumes published thus far from that project have included ABC, Demo to Ink, Jones, Lit, Manifest, N/O, Paradise, (R), Toner, What and Xing. He has now begun writing a new poem entitled Universe.


In the 1970s, he was associated with the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry group that also included Charles Bernstein, Bruce Andrews, Lyn Hejinian, Bob Perlman and Susan Howe.

He was a 2003 Literary fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a 2002 Fellow of the Pennsylvania Arts Council as well as a Pew Fellow in the Arts in 1998. He lives in
Chester County , Pennsylvania , with his wife and two sons, and works as a market analyst in the computer industry. 

 

 

 

 

From ZYXT

 

 

A DREAM BEFORE DAWN

 

 

 

Tra il dire e il fare

c'è di mezzo il mare

— Mario Savio

 

For Lyn & Leslie

 

 

 

                      A dream just before dawn is different
                             What I thought at first literally to have been a chicken crossing the road proved, upon 

examination, to be a spruce goose
                             The border between reverie and sleep, razor thin
                             He walked into the music store while I waited, but when he failed to re-emerge I entered 
only to find him gone


                            
A tall girl, quite beautiful but for the buck teeth & receding chin
                             The eros of adrenalin and vice versa
                             Your ashes, no larger than a loaf of bread but several times the weight
                             When setting across Dogtown Commons, take a compass and tell someone your plans


                             Eight months may yield only a handful of pages but just possibly the right ones
                             Three enter the restaurant, taking care to set their black laptop cases down next to the wall 
away from the passing diners, table angled into a diamond configuration to seat four – the lone empty chair 

facing the aisle as the trio struggles to tip their oversized menus just right to catch the light
                       Cut strawberry stain upon the napkin, image of the tiniest kiss

 

CMON PUMPKIN BUTT

 

                         C’mon pumpkin butt
                         X described as Charzard-like
                         Draft of a draft
                         Are we squirming in our seats yet?
                         Revolutionette


                          Lets E
                          You are here
                          The perfect mother, Patty Hearst
                          Wiping the socket that has no eye
                          I sit cross-legged in a corner of the gallery, barely able to see Mei-mei’s head between the 

rows of chairs, no height to the podium (which I know is there only by its lamp’s soft glare spreading across 

her green brown & white shirt), her voice soft, hushed, audible only through its amplification (behind me, 

out the floor-to-ceiling windows [doors really, tho opening to no balcony] traffic on bumpy Second Street  

forms its own punctuation)


                            By the time he awoke, her carefully made bed appeared a storm of sundered blankets – one 

barely saw her own smaller figure asleep beneath the crumpled pile
                            Pre-apologize
                            Hushed, stage-whispered reading yields too worshipful a listening
                            Neither alpha nor beta male, but rather Charlie or delta
                            You don’t realize how dull the razor’s gotten until you change the blade
                            Woman with a bruised thumbnail sits silent on the bench, the other hand clenched tight 

about a Kleenex. 


                          In American Beauty, the daughter, played by actress Thora Burch, who at the time of filming 

was “only 16,” has a scene in which she removes blouse & bra, filmed as seen from across the way from her

bedroom window by neighbor videotaping drug dealer boy friend, his screen projected / reflected up against 

his own bedroom window, the complex shot construction enabling the use of body double Marina Freeman
 
                        Terse verse

 

 

FLUSH HARD

 

                           Flush hard – it’s a long way to the food truck
                           Wondering if this chair will survive the reading
                           Hold the pen absolutely perpendicular to the page
                           Spring Fling, Fall Pall
                           One rolls the hula hoop down the hill while the other, with a giant orange 

“Blaster,” attempts to shoot ping pong balls through it as it passes
                           Moment when the sun no longer illumines and the street lamps have yet to take 

hold – child alone sitting before the giant concrete wall beside the rack of locked bikes
                           Mercedes Benzine
                           From server to serve (as ever I swerve)
                           Here is a ridden art that achieve a rap sure wooly now & gorges
                           The first page is so seldom numbered 1
                           Man walks into the bookstore holding a bicycle helmet in one hand
                           You hear the hiss of an aerosol can in the next room & you wonder to what 

purpose
                           Now the mockingbird mimics the squirrel


                            Ferrous wheels
                            Taller than any of these oaks is that old poplar
                            The golfers were using their clubs as tho it were hockey
                            Those wonderful curls where the ear spirals down into the skull
                             A place in the shade (in a few hours this heat will prove unbearable)
                            The slightest light breeze vibrates the crime scene tape
                             Prosody of the power mower
                             In this dream, the woman bumps her head, which spontaneously explodes
                             Amiri Baraka singing to himself in the men’s room stall
                            The cardinal’s incessant (now there’s a word) “cheep, cheep” fell over the 

congregation
                            Yesterday’s stumble (the pizza slice poised mid-air directly below its overturned, 

still-spinning plate) memorialized this afternoon in the grated flesh of my knee
                             Butterfly as it goes into the mower’s blades
                             You stick the signifier into the signified (please pay the syntax)
                             Infinitesimal red spider walking up my thigh
                             X of eczema 
                             Of being timorous
                             High up in that loft space a green neon word (illegible script, perhaps kanji) hangs 

over the area designated as kitchen
                             He’s still talking to me but I’ve already stepped outdoors so that all I hear are the 

tones of his voice through the glass
                             Glove songs
                             The tomatoes are fighting
                             How many summers remain just to sit in the yard reading?
                             Calling for assistance, “Bailiff, bailiff”
                             Crow conceived as a discount hawk
                             Little white butterflies
                             hover over the grass
                             Purple fierceness of the thistle in bloom
                             Off to see a show of Fairfield Porter’s, expecting the work of Trevor Winkfield
                             Looking at a page to tell the time
                             Lone goose, calling as it flies
                             June, therefore June bugs
                             Shutting the book with only five pages remaining
                             Permitting the tea to steam up my glasses, then letting them slowly clear
                             Power yoga
                             Although the task seemed simple enough – identify the bird with the green head, 

black bill and brown chest – none of the field guides offered reasonable options
                             Even though her mother’s Anglo and she herself was born in
Detroit , she retains 

a distinct hint of her father’s Gujarat accent
                             Fire as a solid
                             Some power something up the hill sets the trees on edge
                             Some new thrush’s loud dusk song
                             Passionate knishes
                             White butterfly settles into the flowers and disappears


                              Saturday aircraft
                              Marketer’s motto: Life’s a pitch!
                              Already sisters are beginning to worry as to who will inherit the china closet
                             When the fans go off, the air goes still, then heavy
                             They stand or crouch at the edge of the building, attempting to stay dry while they 

smoke
                             Boy sleeps on cot in the nurse’s office until the parent arrives to take him home


                              It’s not that a tear is so unexpected, but for it to rise rather than slide down the 

cheek
                              Little twigs stick in the push mower’s blades,
                              a pause in the rhythm of these long straight sweeps over the nearly chartreuse 

lawn
                              Fire as a liquid
                             The smart card’s striped bar chirps under the eye of the reader (time it takes for 

this sentence to obsolete & opaque)
                             Aggregate the data
                             Relearning to chew on that side of your mouth
                             Outdoors, all the air conditioner means is the sound of a motor

 

 

 

 

 

 

copyright © Ron Silliman