The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2016

All Issues
FEB 2016 Issue

Poem After Reading Eileen Myles

I know you’re not you —
this is me — here are a pack
of lies about sitting down
on this chair —
There’s a setting for this
it’s here I’m a poet so
this must be a cafe, single
tree at top of hill
I mean
words, music, evoke
feeling, mood, here I am talking
to poets, that’s not even
thinking I mean to say
this or that to anyone
It’s in the park


Eileen is the boss not that she’s
bossy or trying to be bossy but still well
these words stammer on my lips
she says as she puts her foot down
here on the
when you fall down
on the ground
you use the ground
to get up
or you can use the sky
to yank yourself up
or gently employ the space
between things —
that’s me — between things —
people have become
much older than before
things are getting complicated
just as perplexing as they need to be
Several gulls
wheel overhead I stirred a blue heron
whose wings unfolded loud so close
This isn’t about my mood
There’s nothing anyone can do about it
she’s driving in her car probably
far distances stopping now and
to write this


Then the day began much as it
always does pre-dawn followed
by dawn then full light and
its aftermath, the doings of a life
with a mood perforated by
thinking: what tune
of thinking yourself to be
as a fact
you are not your demographic
you are not a consumer
nor are you a producer you are not
a product of your circumstances
the doctor
says you are a patient
your mother her child
the poet a reader or a poet
the mechanic a car or the owner
of a car or another piece of machinery
All the labor-saving devices
must be repaired —
on a planet limited
by apparent materiality how
sustain the unlimited economic growth
necessary to produce “jobs” 
What jobs!
All thinking depends on a body
that propels one
forth into further trouble and
eventual demise all creatures eat
so kill and are killed by the
very fact
So don’t need jobs!
Thus the
day unfolds
Darkness descends, it’s
emotional Who would wander into this
cafe to say “I’ve figured
it out! I know what it is!
I know what to do!” ?






Norman Fischer

Norman Fischer is a Zen Buddhist priest, author, and poet who has published poetry and prose steadily since the late 1970’s. Philip Whalen was his poetic master. His latest titles (2018) are Untitled Series:Life As It Is (Talisman) and On A Train At Night (PURH, France).


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2016

All Issues