Four Poems by Ian Dreiblatt

Max Reyher

Max Reyher. Nirwana, 1928. Oil on wood.

for Robert Kelly


731 maps

1961 . Malcolm X on TV but he looks hungry .
signal fades . angles project a head to
watch it snow thick analog fuzz over
let my arm forget let me be all the people
in this city
                 the faucet’s running
                                                 gestures of
language vibrate off into permanent
luminous pools .
                           walls of VHS wobble rise up .
a voice bleeds from a sequence of rectangular
lights that impersonates a tree .
                                                    it is our
pleasure to serve you .
                                     it is already late
our sense of what is happening absconds
into figuration
                       embarrassed at not
knowing Arabic
                         at naming our parents
after the little house on that mountain
the music stops .
                            a rock falls
from the sky and we just go crazy
for it .
          faces coalescing from the high-speed
ambient flicker of medium grid and dissipating
back into it
                    which the city does, too
arriving as brief rushes of language
& then cubing back off into
                     & as for the ones who
brought us here
                           let knives tear their
               let it rot
                            the mouths of
their children
                      while speech, depolarized
as a matter of sovereignty
against the contours of absence



          “oxen wild like bellowed land”

after most things have happened, Chaon appears.
he’s filth, a mishmash theophage guzzling chaos

out of the city, draining it to linearity. doors become
invisible, alphabets realign their orders under the

meshes of our speech. I will mutely scowl says the sun.
I will turn the Chrysler Building inside out.

he drank so much chaos they called him Chaon,
of course. he took all but two of every household

(as though walls even existed, or remembered light)
and lived in the sky with them. open air pivoting,

invisible embouchure into a body of contradictions.
or into nobody if that’s who we are. I was righteous

out of my age, says Chaon. I soldered together
the seams of the sky, I blew breath into the city’s

gridded syntax. weeks without rain. flesh in no
number. recombinant grammars flash in the

skyline. the doorway. a language all breath
conspires in. bandwidths enlacing to form noise.


a heart

          “dug they as fast as”

the city destroyed in a starfall of multiplicities.
we speak without lips. we count spheres of

pale blue light that float up over the ruins. number
sufficient fix indecipherable afterbirth. cubes

invert and all that is solid. boil absence and see
if it melts. let’s dig into the ground a mold of

everything we remember since it was never here
anyway, found abyss, each thing speaking

in the voice of another. and then the tape flakes.
memory’s surfaces craze. we reach our arms

into an indescribably blank space that seems
to go on forever. the city was what lived and so

we’d built a tower to dream we had bodies there.
now we aggregate in the combinatorial negation

where a park used to be. inchoate usses float
down the index. a mouth we can share. our

chances suffuse a surging amalgam light as
iridescent grammars cycle down to a unison.


modus & aroma

          “children his of fate the father”

we breathe to abide the implausibility of matter .
a desert beach blooms into a frost made of salt .
our participation in particles . no promises but .
time is what meaning is made of and knows it ,
& speech
                in its climates
                                      our animating
conspiracy .

                   what now ? lightbulbs weep
over this landscape . all are uplifted .
sake therefore place . the cone of
potentialities widening over bare red cliffs .
the land has unseen daughters here , they
comb the valley’s mind
                                     and hide pockets
of breath in the stone .
                                     then a change .
the kind of equilibrium solidity is , or
persevering memory , enacting itself as
the weather . the desert opens . beaches
soften and lines of semantic connection
grow elastic and torque themselves around
little suburban houses that spring up overnight .

time passes and architecture cycles endlessly .
in the static that resists all perception , a little
red light flickers
                          and besides we still have the breath
turning to salt in our mouths , lyric chimneys ,
a past that melts the minute it sees us

Ian Dreiblatt is a poet, translator, musician, and legal commentator. His translation of Gogol’s The Nose is forthcoming this year from Melville House Publishing, and his translations of the prison letters of Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are forthcoming in Comradely Greetings from Verso Books. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Agriculture Reader , Pallaksch. Pallaksch., Web Conjunctions, and elsewhere. You can listen to his electronic music at

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