Measure for Measure

The Chain of Day and Night

God has ignited the fire

showing him nothing –

in every direction around him is space and only space

in his winding heart he thinks

amazed that the splendor of eternity’s beginning

has been snuffed already

 

Far away man has drawn back in surprise a flame revealing itself to him

but every direction is space and only space

in this way, imagination has deceived him the beginning,

in one moment, has become the end

 

Nothingness is raging against this reflection

a breath, another, has made its shift

reality’s mirror has shattered

so now anyone exclaims “what is this? what is that?”

space and only space, space and only space

 

     -Miraji (1912-1949), Silsila-e roz o shab, translated from the Urdu by Meghan Hartman

 

 

Ars Poetica

 

I somehow manage to filter out all

the inconsequential events in my

life and call the rest “art.” I am the

poet-in-residence on this plane.

Wherever you are, you live there,

unless you are dead. For some

reason “dying” doesn’t work like

“sleeping” even though they are the

same. My grandfather cannot come

to the phone because he is adead. I

put on weight and call it art. If I did

the things I say I did in my poetry, it

would not be poetry. That’s because

it would be “performance art.” With

work, I, too, can be pop music.

Some art jumps out of my hand and

rolls around on the floor. I shout

“hell no, I won’t go” but I have

somewhere to be after this. I get a

lot of head when I am in the shower.

Is poetry like photography where

you get a bunch, pick a few to eat,

and digest them with your name on

them? It’s up to other people to

label my feelings, I don’t do that.

 

     —Max Binder