Monday, February 4, 2013
Monday Poem: "Song of the Andoumboulou: 60" -- by Nathaniel Mackey
The vote came in early. We ignored
it. No ballout-box auction for us...
Nub’s uninstructed dance’s bare
feet, music we took them for.
loss with only bodies to fend with,
nonsonant waves kept coming,
sang without wind, saltless,
waterless, Nub’s inverted
run, Nub newly vented by horns
elsewhere, bells full of insect
husks... Nonsonant scruff held
on to, sheerness... Nothingness
it seemed we grabbed at, gathered,
beginning to be unending it seemed.
were beginning to be lured again,
ready to be hectored, huthered, move
on, beginning to be uprooted again...
A peppered expanse the country we
crossed. Space doled out so stingily
we wept, love’s numb extremity
the outskirts of Nuh, name whose
we embraced... A tale told many
times over, known before it reached
us, known before we knew, un-
backed alley of soul we wandered
shadowbox romance it was called...
Come of late to creation’s outskirts,
rub’s new muse a republic of none, a
yet-to-be band the band we were...
We were Andoumboulou, dreamt
habitants of “mu,” moored but
immersed, real but made up, so much
farther flung than we’d have thought...
They the would-be we lay on a bed
the size of Outlandish. Lip attesting
lip, tongue rummaging tongue,
between finger and thumb the hem
of her dress, flat bead of sweat, salted
A hammer hit them each on the head.
Hammered heads rang and rang without
end... Called it creation, called it
their clime, close where there was otherwise
distance, mute endearment, recondite
embrace... So much farther, felt even
mouth she remembered, home. His to hear
her tell it, hers were it his to say, whose
book was of lengthening limbs, hers of
unquenchable kiss... A tale told over and
long since known by heart. Lay belly to
back, turned belly to belly, each the other’s
dreamt accompanist, music they made in
their sleep... Frayed hem the interstice,
moot rule. Time’s moot rule amended,
advance it was
* * * * *
Splay Anthem (2006), which won the National Book Award.
His poetry uses images from African American mythology and musical traditions, including jazz. Mackey taught at UC Santa Cruz from 1979-2010. In 2010, he won a Guggenheim Fellowship and he currently teaches at Duke University.