I kept having to be someone else. That’s in the past
The oppressive purple-blue sky is transitional im-
prints lost, I can hear no echo from the future
between actions defined by all others growing
larger; it’s an opera of my cunning now. I’m
going to charm you towards our mad goal,
the only thing possible. Is your heart pure, yes? no?;
mine will never be, will it? What do you want?
We want shapes we like. I got shot in a finger
of my left hand; there was so much going on I forgot
to tell anyone, but it kept bleeding then I had to.
All the small words got in the way again, I couldn’t
explain in a flash. Then it appeared to be healing
like the sky with its scab. You can take this away with you
It won’t break. But I don’t understand it. You
don’t have to
Leading her to where it shifts its
scarlet in communicating its becoming a fact.
Will the fact disappear like all the other ones?
Did anything stay true, when you died?
Only my relation to some people
there’s a substantial obligation — between
the two substances life and death. What are they
like? When you are being it, the wind blows
full of silver and gold.
Alice Notley has published over thirty books of poetry, including (most recently) Songs and Stories of the Ghouls, Negativity’s Kiss, and the chapbook Secret I D. With her sons Anselm and Edmund Berrigan, she edited both The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan and The Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan. Notley has received many awards including the Academy of American Poets’ Lenore Marshall Prize, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Award, the Griffin Prize, two NEA Grants, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry. She lives and writes in Paris, France.