me Jen Hoffer is made of words alone. And these words guide me to
sit here and write these words. Something like 3 years ago I was
tearing with my teeth at the wrappings of a magazine that had just
arrived in the mail. The magazine was late by three months from
the date the editor had trancelike pledged for its release, and
more, I was worried he had ruined the spelling of certain words
that had masqueraded in my poem. I had painted myself blue about
it for three months and now with the magazine having made it just
past the perusal's tooth tear away and it turns out the fucker had
neglected to insert a table of contents! Then, either I had wind-leafed
past my poem or hadn't got there yet, but these are the words that
abducted me, my own flesh now green with drowning:
In an abundance of green green
is not a color. In greenness
of dawn water and sky are one
seamless skin. Seamless, not
scarless. Dawn lifts unseen,
a magenta bulb flutes onto a bed
or bowl of green. A magnet
of light screaming. Dawn is
when fruit becomes tender.
I dial the editor who is now a dear
friend because he didn't misspell the word parade and he'd just
got home and he insists before I can ask him who Jen Hoffer is that
he couldn't believe I just called because he'd just got back from
a reading and Jen Hoffer had read my poem and flipped over it and
asked him who I was.
I suppose Jen Hoffer and I had just
fawned over one another's word parades across the ocean of language
and didn't know it. The ocean of language put up the editor to this.
I worded a fawning letter to Jen Hoffer soon after (where I never
mentioned what I secretly dreamed, but send her a translation where
Baudelaire says: The evening's air swirls in murmur and perfumes;
What melancholy waltz, what drowsy swoon!) and never got a word
from her for seven months. But it was her who counted the months
because when I got her letter, post-marked Mexico City, she mentioned
it. Or maybe it was much later she mentioned it, because in an e-mail
from her I found these words:
"we're severely speeding up our previous
every-seven-months rhythm. which
makes me very happy."
It makes me very happy too.
And since for me Jen is made of words
only, she is a hatcher of words, I will quote from the words she
hatched on the frayed leaf of a chinoise parchment: "Sin the utter
terror & utter joy, the utterly alive feeling of being inside
something gigantic & gorgeous."
I craved to reply with Gellu Naum's
"I understand we inhabit the inside
of a gigantic bird who parades us
I thought about this for months and
never wrote her. I am taking advantage of this to reply now.
In the strictest confidence, Jen,
I called Imogen late last night, Imogen to whom I read poetry and
who listens, and I read:
You can ride a bicycle across Poland
or you can ride a bicycle to sharpen
knives. In this city the sky is lentil-
colored & birds do not talk. Water
doesn÷t run, it raptures convulsing
like a cough or a comma. A tender
fracture, when attention is paid.
In some countries attention is not paid,
it is lent. Leaning is a gesture, rapture
or dismissal. A fascinated hour
is spent. Not borrowed, exchanged.
She asked me if I wrote it, and I
nearly said yes. Strange, Imogen
pondered, how poetry suddenly surprises you like that.
And then later, in the mirror, I
tried leaning, first as rapture, then as
And now, away from the mirror, as