Cockenoe by David Rattray

BOMB 9 Spring 1984
009 Spring Summer 1984
Gianfranco Gorgoni 001

Gianfranco Gorgoni

                 it is
written Cock-e-noe but people say ka-KEE-nee
as in bikini or Eeniweetok


in the Sound
8 hours west of Montauk with a good breeze.

All this you said and I

wrote how
we’ll maybe never see each other again but all’s well

(promises are always lies)

God damn

your tightrope-walker thighs

the hair inside
leading somewhere I hardly dare mention

It’s such a violent thing in me

All you have to do to make me happy is take off your clothes.

(Frank O’Hara talking)

All you need do is whisper across an ocean

how we’ll go to Cockenoe

(ka-KEE-nee!)

next summer.
But it’s not so good for camping overnight, there’s rats.

What do you mean babe the place
got its name from a Montauk Indian, Cockenoe

camped there a whole year            (dates
1652 / 3)

Cockenoe? no: ka-KEE-nee

ka-KEE-nee (right)

you ought to know, you grew up facing it, you even owned a
SAVE COCKENOE button.

It’s an island
and in my vocabulary

Thule, ile joyeuse, isle of the blest

are all just words meaning

next-to-you

and when you’re cool you’re
cool as the Frozen Ocean—

if I could only turn into a frosty iron mountain

(the Vikings made it

to Spitzbergen, named it

The Cold Edge,
that’s how cold I’d be)

a red spike of magnetic ore

inside your blue iceberg,

let the aurora borealis
blush.

Emma Baker
80 year old Mohegan talking in 1925:
 

Our great-great-aunt used to take us on a certain hill
and point NW, said that was the way her folks came and we
must never forget it.

Never forget how

led forward by dream mammoth

amid clouds of pine pollen

erect bipeds
trekked on through

Hyperborean fields watered by glaciers at a thousand
campsites

seeds of artemisia

lupine, spinach

encased in petrified trash

layers reported up to 10,000 years
still vital

a conscious field

never shattered

a continuous

forward-looping flow

leaping ever and again

out of patterned confinement

mind upon mind

a sentient stream

doomed to know no germination save

by combustion

a backbone pointed to the stars

like the jack pine

whose sealed cones hold seed
up to 100 years till struck by

fire—

at the peak of conflagration

resin
oozing out of the cones blazing

they pop open
and the seed spills

only to come up again
in an abundance of

light and warm ashes

(Heidegger ’33:
Poet, shake hands with lightning)

1654 East Hampton. A bear

drowned in the creek at Accabonac

taken to the sachems per agreement

and when the English came round after that, the old
Sunksquaw pointed to the skin

showing her teeth

(quotes) ‘in token She ett thereof’

seven glittering points
under Ursa Major

lowah mintau ves awza
do the thing I did

laughing
machees-cund duo

bad as the devil

ka-KEE-nee her husband 20 years younger

marriage a political institution

I’m a Paumonok boy myself

Paumonok their name for Long Island

‘tribute-land’

ever since prehistoric times, paying tribute

(there’s so much to tell)

a spirit flinging boulders
from Glen Cove over to the Connecticut shore.

Never forget how one day at Devon

soon after the War

these 2 older
kids sitting in a bay window
back to back
reading Jungle Boy and Kim

I wanted to be
like them

arms
aglow with golden hairs—

what are they like now
with their

brisk, lacquered wives and
wrist-slashing heirs?

Yeah but what’s so much better about

vision

when all you see
is a flower in a book

squashed flat as a private disclosure?

Oh sure the daisy

signature of detachment

yeah but

walking on water wasn’t built in a day.

Thing about a miracle, if
for an instant
it isn’t
too good to be true
you better believe
it’s over.

ka-KEE-nee (the island) I
pursued to 42nd Street, the Library.

Islands are always different and
no matter how tiny

there are
variations in flora and fauna

special diseases.

Cockenoe’s

only 28 acres
and two years ago a pelican

never seen north of the Carolinas

turned up there

dead.

At the Local History desk a woman appeared

lavender jumpsuit, black ankleboots

I thought of you

(from the waist down the resemblance was

startling)

She overheard ka-KEE-nee and
smiling, turned:

I’m from Westport, I know
where it is, my name’s Devon.

Oh no I said,
That’s the name of a yacht club

(((she fled)))

Later on

Oishi-san

got out a jar of liqueur
with a paper label
that same shade

faded lavender

a pair of deer

Chinese writing in their horns

MAKES YOU LIVE 1000 YEARS.

Haunted
by an image of
hands

(if not mine

whose?)

pulling those lavender
corduroys

down your pale legs

while
not for an instant

ceasing to meet your gaze

I damn your eyes lady

your pair of not quite
matching wrists

your mind
like sudden raw sunlight.

Do you and your artist lover in London
the one that has the same first name as me
ever see your own

hearts like red fish in a tank?

When Auden died they found his
dictionary
clawed to pieces—

how can anybody ever find words?

Why can’t my
words laugh back at me like you do?

Here I sit, in a room
high in the rain over the East River

staring at a pink-splotched sheet of manuscript

thinking of old moon diver Li Po.

I want to be a young artist

the name ka-KEE-nee means interpreter
I want to be someplace else

ka-KEE-nee was a Montauk Indian
someplace else, like London

he assumed the name in the year 1648

In the Indian tongue ka-KEE-nee means
repeater

I want to be someplace else

ka-KEE-nee translated the Bible into the Indian tongue

someplace like London

ka-KEE-nee
was an interpreter
interpret
I want to be a young artist in London

language has no power
language goes on and on

ka-KEE-nee is a mere ghost, an old one too and
I want to be a young artist

ka-KEE-nee means repeater

I want to be someplace else
I want to be a cloud with dreadlocks

language has no power to create
I want to be a young artist in London

language repeats
I want to be an invisible river in the ocean, a sea-poose

I want to be an angel with a 5 o’clock shadow
speaking an angelic tongue

language repeats
ka-KEE-nee was a Bible translator

I want to be a pair of eyes other than my own

repeat
I want to be a tongue
I want to be an angelic tongue
I want to be an invisible current

I want to be someplace else
I want to be able to bend the shape of a lightwave by

moving my hand a certain way.

 

David Rattray is author of A Red-Framed Print of the Summer Palace (Vincent Fitzgerald Co., New York, 1983).

To The Blue Wall by David Rattray
Pam Glick 001

Originally published in

BOMB 9, Spring 1984

Nicolas Echevarria, Pam Yates, art by James Nares and Tom Otterness, writing by Daisy Zamora, Kathy Acker, Glenn O’Brien, and more.

Read the issue
009 Spring Summer 1984