Three Poems

by Vincent Katz

LOTHIAN

it was a great rush
to confront solidity
events planned to
coexist in drawings’ grace
gave way of breathing
properly, not be
too furiously injected
into others’ arguments

but delicate landscape’s
imagining an unreal,
shimmering
presence behind
tension, the desire
eventually, if noticed,
leads to paths
through marvelous
epochal hills
sheep where one’s
soul cries out
as elsewhere
great stones of
cathedrals
universities on
rocky coast subside
nature planted
long histories
that do not face
their music echo
geometric glass

then return
to cities
of races
mixed places
where
one moves
to interpret
change
in weather
rhythm
constant
hum is living
one knows the
tempo of, is
never short


EVENING LIED

A crack in the clouds, through which
The blue of Spring, and buds all around.
The waves keep lapping towards us,
Soon the sailboats will be departing.
Today, a sailor told a tale of how he
Handles storms, his pictures seem so
Calmly arranged, friezes of pleasure.


HADRIAN

Publius Aelius Hadrianus a shafted hunt
his paternal grandfather married Trajan’s aunt heft
Trajan takes young Hadrian as his ward a longing toward a loss
several times tribune study and effect
accompanies Trajan to Rome travel broadens
marries Vibia Sabina but the blues
quaestor pulls inward
staff-officer to a point
archivist a higher and higher
plebeian tribune pushing
commander an affect
praetor and sudden
governor of Lower Pannonia process
suffect consul to thousands
member of priestly colleges there are eyes
in 111 or 112 elected archon of Athens and dead hands
governor of Syria collective crash
   
Trajan dies in Cilicia on 8 August 117 stick
on the 9th announced at Antioch and the push
he’d adopted Hadrian as successor ultimate
11 August dies imperii but it goes up
circumstances unfortunate, even ambiguous a head
succession not a matter for armed contention regardless of
   
Prompt abandoning of Trajan’s imperialist policy thought
in the East blown badness
Imperial Civil Service staffed by graded and salaried intellect wrapped
knights or imperial consilium expanded
   
Decides to go on a tour of the provinces buzz tone
military organization Hollywood
the need to recognize—and guide— all goes to
provincial aspirations by showing himself as their that old place
common symbol; his own desire sex abounds
to learn provincial conditions especially in a wall
in Hellenized areas advertises on a border a catch
his policy by coins a wilderness for loving
travels to Gaul, the Rhine, living low as horizon took
the soldier’s life grey miles accepted
   
Crosses from Holland to Britain in 121 weighty statements
establishes the triple limes proferred finally as text
frontier-wall of Roman Britain known to do the job
80 Roman Miles of policing ideas
Wallsend-on-Tyne to Bowness-on-Solway voluptuous sentiment
10 feet thick and 15 feet high they met by the canal
excluding battlements every third minute
20 feet thick at base and 12 feet high and could see that places
a V-shaped ditch (27 feet wide and 15 feet deep) opened how their bodies
patrols lie in attached mile-castles could play upon one another
towered gates to north and lights on water
intermediate turrets there too a lonely instrument
as work progresses, changes come and walking words powered
patrol-track runs along south side of the ditch by a woman’s intellect
reached by causeways at the mile-castles pushing to the capitol
public passages pierce both mounds place where religion sits
crossed by ditch on a causeway in politics’ skin ear
   
Returning to Gaul (commemorates Plotina’s death settled in books and
by a temple at Nimes) reaches Spain by 122 magazines of times and
sails from Spain, tours Asia, the Troad, beliefs in cults
Poropontis, Phrygia exorcism of wealth as
favoring communities, leaves for Greece again turning left
returns to Rome via Sicily belief system a real
next year visits Africa attempt to drown
to revise land-tenure on imperial domain-lands tedious 40 hours
   
After a few weeks in Rome, leaves to winter in that sticking sound
Athens, dedicates the Olympieum, himself founders on
Zeus Panhellenios, accepts title history, one’s
‘Olympius’ and the nation’s
travels to Caria, Cilicia, Cappadocia, Syria the picture allowed us
journeys up the Nile (there to lose Antinous, q.v.) of crooked, realized sons
returns to Rome that talent gone awry
   
Builds a shrine to Jupiter Capitolinus on site of haywire instinct, fathoming
temple at Jerusalem sick systems of remuneration
with or without prohibition of circumcision the head falls in a pallet
this precipitates revolt a bullet singing by the side
drawing Hadrian to Antioch urgent singing, a stick
a siege of Jerusalem — widespread repressive cast into a road by a
measures horse crippled at rest
Judaea becomes Syria Palaestina several seasons witness
to Christianity as such Hadrian’s attitude was foreign intrusions dance
   
that of Trajan with poetry smitten
   
Provincial extortion is rare somber edict
conditions of slavery ameliorated gangster rhythm now
in jurisdiction relative progress centers accrete, slow
circuit-judges vision recused allow
by 129, one code drawn up turbulent inroad
Hadrian allows no treason charges war taken to rest
   
Spanish-born and Greek-inspired, intellectual, herded into taxis
critic and connoisseur, littérateur, symbols in river son
accomplished musician and artist, ‘the mature couldn’t exist simply
pleasures of peaceful life at Rome’ but was simplicity
   
Government enlightened centralization constructed as ever
plain debt to the gods but as never interconnected
succession must be clear glamour and architecture
especially if plotting begins as memory or invitation
Hadrian adopts L. Aelius beginning and end
turns to Antoninus Pius synthesized
   
In 138, conmsumptive and dropsical, he dies not far from home
aged sixty-three existing at pattern
now-famous verses on his lips fathoming difference
buried in Mausoleum he built and seeing horizons
deified at length dim at last
perhaps alienated, perhaps apathetic a quiet sleep


—Vincent Katz curated an exhibition on Black Mountain College for the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid and is the editor of Black Mountain College: Experiment In Art (MIT, 2002; reprinted 2013). He is the author of the book of translations, The Complete Elegies Of Sextus Propertius (Princeton, 2004), winner of the 2005 National Translation Award from the American Literary Translators Association, and of Alcuni Telefonini, a book of poems done in collaboration with painter Francesco Clemente (Granary Books, 2008). Katz is the publisher of Libellum books. He curates the Readings in Contemporary Poetry Series at Dia Art Foundation in New York City.

Tags:
Experimental poetry
Biographical poetry
BOMB 128
Summer 2014
The cover of BOMB 128
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