Hmmm by Clayton Eshleman

BOMB 111 Spring 2010
Issue 111  Cover 2

Home of the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Company


There is a hmmm, a hum, an incipient hymn, a
song in food, a hallelujah hint, even before
baby patter,   a Neanderthal lullaby,
suck of going in,   a sound,   a salsa,
that sews me to you,
the sewing is thee, we are
             theed in sound,   treed in
    nascent omega.

I greet what I cannot account for,
I depart to where I might become an unfiltered phantom facing
    filtered war.
If sound is the heart noise of being,
does it have a commonwealth, a gong modality
    coursing our lives?

Cosmic lisp occurs most poignantly before falling asleep.
An oyster in shell-static, I hear a rapids spewing blood and
    gold—
am again takes on flavor.

Breath’s arsenal blooms in dreams.
I stop short of nonbeing to gaze at conception’s regal tinsel,
its mire of mirrors, its tilting wetlands of bulrush miracle.

Breath molecules of the dead
populate the atmosphere, Adolf H. as well as ayahuasca
comrades from the Putamayo.

The stuff Wilhelm Reich saw in the blue sky
looks like paperclips to me,
bions he called them, tiny soul packets

on the verge
or precipice where the living are shaved from the dead

or where the dead transfer
sprinting from one plane to another—

Blake bobbing by,
Beowulf, triple-eyed and forty-eared.

Hmmm. Deer can hear us talking. Our voices resemble the uh-
    huh of falling fruit.

Did desire for reincarnation of the killed animal
precede the notion of human immortality?

Hmmm. Like a sentient water molecule percolating randomly
    through the soil, lost amidst the tangle of root fibers, I pass
    through the petiole of a sun-drenched leaf… Now I am in-
    side the roof of a structure made up of
    lines—a rhizome.

Now I am a live canoe, my skin covered with yellow stripes,
    black diamonds. Inside me are Sultan Muhammad, Pablo
    Amaringo, Unica Zürn and César Vallejo. Crabs are clutched
    to my rear. They live as parasites in the anal regions of large
    aquatic snakes. Zürn is pregnant and twisting in pain. When
    Vallejo tries to soothe her, she bites off his finger, which
    Amaringo puts in his pocket. Will he plant it? It is said that
    the Yaje plant originated from a sowed finger.

Coreless core of the macro entwining the micro.

The quantum dot florescence image of a mouse-kidney section.

Dream of green word leaves tumbling inside bright magenta
filaments in a royal
purple sky.
                  Hertzog’s blood-red black smoke over
burning Kuwait oil fields. A kind of Beethoven bordello.

The seeker entwining the sought,
the sowed fighting to stay seed.

Caul of war, an American headdress for years to come.
As if what we are has become war birth,
the held-back fetus, our life, in a war womb.
When we sense birth, we are warforthed.

Sensation of living within a grimy welkin of unreality.
The dusk sky venereal with stealth.

In the nativity rip of the mind,
one wanders all one’s roads at once.


This issue of First Proof is sponsored in part by the Bertha and Isaac Liberman Foundation.

Clayton Eshleman’s most recent books include a translation of The Complete Poetry of César Vallejo (University of California Press, 2007) and The Grindstone of Rapport / A Clayton Eshleman Reader (Black Widow Press, 2008). A new collection of his poetry, Anticline, including the poem published here, will be published this April by Black Widow Press. He is currently preparing a new collection of his translations of the poetry of Bernard Bador, Curdled Skulls, for Black Widow, and co-translating, with A. James Arnold, the unexpurgated 1948 text of Aimé Césaire’s Soleil cou coupe (Solar throat slashed), to be published by Wesleyan University Press in 2011.

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Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari
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Jenny Holzer 01

How might one delineate “damage” given the wider effects of war on society and its citizenry? Solmaz Sharif’s debut book of poems inquires through a powerful collection of verse that integrates the Defense Dictionary lexicon.

Originally published in

BOMB 111, Spring 2010

Featuring interviews with Guy Ben-Ner, T.J Wilcox and Anne Collier, Sam Lipsyte and Christopher Sorrentino, Carlos Reygadas, Patricia Clarkson and Howard Altmann, David Sylvian and Keith Rowe, Edgar Arceneaux and Charles Gaines and Rick Lowe, Charles Bernstein. 

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Issue 111  Cover 2