Human / Nature by Stephen Ratcliffe

This First Proof contains four poems from Human / Nature.

BOMB 109 Fall 2009
Issue 109  Cover Final

Home of the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Company


   6.23
angle of oak branch slanting up to the right in right
foreground, planet in still dark night sky next to it,
sound of cars on freeway
                                    woman in khaki pants driving
gray car back to give man in yellow shirt a hug, thinking
she might never see him again
                                            man next to the red truck
recalling standing up on wave in channel, asking “did you
see me did you see me did you see me,” adding “was I good
was I good was I good”
                                  less than half circle of waning
white moon in cloudless blue sky above point, whiteness
of gull perched on triangular orange tip of GROIN sign
 
                                            6.24
angle of tile roof slanting across gray-white sky in upper-
right foreground, upturned curve of dark-green eucalpytus
tree beside it, sound of cars on freeway
                                                          man in maroon
sweatshirt walking across room in dark, man on the couch
noting “she was snoring so loud I couldn’t take it”
                                                                        woman
on phone recalling hospice on Long Island Sound, the average
length of stay a day and a half, the woman in bed looking out
at cormorant perched on a piling with its wings spread
                                                                              gray-
blue plane of sky tilting down behind the circular green palm
on the tip of the point, line of four pelicans gliding toward it
 
                                            6.26
edge of circular green palm against gray whiteness of sky
in upper-left corner, bird slanting up to the left above
it, sound of cars on the freeway
                                             Newton thinking laws
of nature could be expressed as differential equations,
inventing the calculus in order to express them
                                                                     man
in plaid shirt thinking about a steep learning curve,
arguing that time can be plotted on the y-axis, his
wife telling him to stay away from the quantitative world
line of blue-green swell moving in across left foreground,
pelican flapping across blue whiteness of haze on horizon
 
                                            6.27
circular pink-red flower against branch slanting up in right
foreground, blue-green roof behind it, sound of cars moving
on freeway
                Picasso noting that no one had looked as hard
at Matisse as he had, Jimi Hendrix explaining that “every
time we come into town everyone always looks toward us”
Cartier-Bresson claiming “shooting a picture is recognizing
an event, a matter of putting your brain, your eye, and your
heart in the same line of sight”
                                            gray-white sky tilting
down behind circular green palm on point in right corner,
cormorant flapping across the grey-green plane below it


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

Stephen Ratcliffe’s REAL, 474 pages written in 474 consecutive days, was published by Avenue B in 2007. Two more recent manuscripts, CLOUD / RIDGE (also 474 pages) and HUMAN / NATURE (1,000 pages), appear in Ubu Editions’s Publishing the Unpublishable series. The complete 14-hour reading/performance of HUMAN / NATURE at UC Davis is available at PennSound. His previous books include Portraits & Repetition (The Post-Apollo Press) and SOUND/ (system) (Green Integer). His book on offstage action in Hamlet (Reading the Unseen / (Offstage) Hamlet) is forthcoming from Counterpath this fall. He lives in Bolinas and teaches at Mills College in Oakland.

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