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Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to

This poem is taken from PN Review 247, Volume 45 Number 5, May - June 2019.

Procuring Poetry

after Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1945) after John Yau and Michael Palmer
Charles Bernstein
No fake verses about what’s going on.
No creation or death before poetry.
Compared to which, life’s a static sun,
with no heat or illumination.
Affinities, anniversaries, personal anecdotes – don’t matter.
No fake poetry with the body,
an excellent, complete and comfortable body – senseless for poetry.

Your spleen, your fits of pleasure or pain in the dark – make no difference.
Don’t share with me your feelings,
which reek of equivocation and beat around the bush.
What you think and feel, that is not yet poetry.

No singing about your city – leave it in peace.
Songs aren’t machine music or family secrets;
and they’re not music heard in passing
nor rumors of the sea on streets lined with spume.

Song’s not nature
or community.
Storm and light, fatigue, fright – are of no importance for song.
Poetry – no taking poetry from things! –
elides subject and object.

No dramatising, no invocations,
no nagging. No wasted time lying.
No belaboring.
Your ivory yacht, your diamond slippers,
your manias and mazurkas, your family skeletons,
disappear in time’s tunnels, worthless.

No reworking
your buried and melancholy childhood.
No oscillating between mirror and
disappearing memories.
What disappeared wasn’t poetry.
What broke was no crystal.

Penetrate, with stealth, words’ dominion.
Poems are waiting to be written.
They are paralysed but without despair.
Calm, fresh, membrane intact.
Mute and brute, immaculate as a dictionary.

Let the poem live within you, then write it.
Be patient with obscurity. Calm down when provoked.
Wait for each poem to become real, consummated
with the power of words
and the power of silence.

No forcing a poem out of limbo.
No picking a lost poem off the floor.
No adulating a poem. Accept it
like it accepts its concrete form concentrated
in space.

Each one
has a thousand secret faces under the surface
that ask you, without interest in the reply –
bad or worse – that you devise:
Did you bring the key?

bereft of melody and conceit,
words, still humid, pregnant in sleep,
hide in the night, tumbling in a difficult river
transformed to scorn.

This poem is taken from PN Review 247, Volume 45 Number 5, May - June 2019.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to
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