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ANNE BLONSTEIN

Anne Blonstein lives in Basel, Switzerland, where she works as a freelance translator, editor and teacher. She has published two full-length collections: The Blue Pearl (Salt Publishing, 2003) and Worked on Screen (Poetry Salzburg, 2005); and two chapbooks: sand.soda.lime (Broken Boulder Press, 2002) and That those Lips had Language (Plan B Press, 2005). She has work forthcoming in/at Denver Quarterly, Descant, How2, Indiana Review and Notre Dame Review.

These poems are from a sequence entitled Dangerous Skin. Their epidermal acrostics are provided by the titles given by Paul Klee to 53 so-called “angel“ drawings (and a few paintings) he produced during the last two years of his life (1939-1940). The poem subtitles provide possible translations of the German.

The interpoem citations are my translations from three German versions of the Old Testament, and appear in the following order: Die Bibel. After Martin Luther's translation (the first edition of the Luther Bible appeared in 1534); Die heilige Schrift. After the masoretic text, translated by S. Bernfeld (1909); and Die Schrift. Translated by Martin Buber with Franz Rosenzweig (1925-1962)

 

YOD+VAU

          angel in the boat

Evicted after the toll of determined books
nile impressions sunsets forests soaked in ashes
gather every grammar tint and sentence forth
edged in questions porous as travelled bodies
light moults answers but the pie's full of fevers

in the absence of sages howevered by dreams
mother joins daughter and the two hull breaks and holes

Below the level of human horizons
orchid colours stored to ballast overpasts
othersiders of the body this forward holds
tossed on the sea of lyrical argument

                                                            (15.i.2003/19.viii.2004)

 

* * *

                    Why do you sit among the saddlebags

                    listening to the flutes playing in the flocks?

                  

                   Why do you sit among the folds

                    listening to the bleating of the flocks?

                   

                    Why do you sit among the pens

                    listening to the shepherd's shawm?

 

                                                                     (judges 5:16)

 

* * *

 

 

YOD+ZAYIN

          hosanna  

Opposite the ruins inhabited by music
sopping seraphs welcomed in weimar and paris
and a dream passing between bakers and bankers
nailed onto my back clavicles and daring
nailed across my nights strings of chlorine and ink
as limit commits me to an aural trench

                                                                        (17.i.2003)

 

* * *

                              Listen and do not understand

                                        Keep listening

                    and do not realize

 

                    Listen just listen

                    and never differentiate

                                                              (isiah 6:9)

 

* * *

VAU x GIMEL

          wings instead of legs

smart of the stillissimo but spirited
the feminine subscribing art comes to
as if shaking fire from the tips of our fingers
tongues ceasing to grasshopper in the loges
this becomes a borrowed lieder ohne wurzeln

By thawing words from snow-buried canticles
each judgement plays on that lost after judgement
imagination and the ear trained to conserve
neurones for connections that last and derive
expressions a mother counts cooks and crotchets
nathan the shoulder bequeathed to a granddaughter

Fanny who recognized felt as neglected phase
laments filtered by the fear-parted power of light
"Wenn ich ein Steinbeck wär . . . spielt ich was vor"
understood as fevered to the wings of time
guarding the difference between fragile and frailty
e minor as a prelude to agitation
like five hands playing metaforms on your back

                                                    (24.i.2003/19.viii.2004)

 

* * *

                                        the order of heaven

                    and earth

                    the laws of heaven and earth

                    statutes of heaven and earth

                                           ( jeremiah 33:25)

 

* * *

KAPH–ALEPH

          an old musician plays angelically

enigmatic inheritance of blurred motives
in sections why died and oak woods received bad plans
nothing looser than a genre of starflakes and steel

at a time when there were clavichords and curious
like a sentence forgotten in the heart
to be feared here a yesterday da capo
estinto still births the syncopations
replies you give me answered with her shedding

Mendelssohn accordingly read against performed
urging me not yet to come unsibbable
she still hears farewells as can be expectations
inherited a life described as performing
knowledge arranges inconsistent stories
equal voices in an atmosphere of coffee
rather like sparrows in winter performances

the apostrophe by which we attach our selves
us but better the future could find us
the apostrophe in which we detach our souls

each one has six wings and a filigree tongue
notice bare eyes and how the truth shines like leaving
gentle written on a body of allusive
eden was an enigma because it hid earth
like a sentence forgotten in explaining
how the cantor with the thick eyebrows wrote
at a time when there were choleras and conversions
fantasias on a theme in civilized
thinking going and songs strong until the sky gaped

                                                    (31.i.2003/19.viii.2004)

 

* * *

                                        And in the house he made

                                        windows with strong bars in front of them

 

 

                    And he made windows in the house

                    closed but transparent [glass windows]

 

 

                    For the house he made windows with latticed embrasures

 

                                                                                                      (1. kings 6:4)

 

* * *

KAPH

          angel full of hope

Embracing left to recover and to know
neither lily nor a terrible promise
groundswelling the questions of in fact remoteness
explains according to its state of mending
located in a dimension of therefore praise

varyings of point begin a relationship
of order and narrative and ephemera
life affirmed as an obviate of simply
listen and enter with no one approval
envisaged with united sides might captivate
resembling an empirical formula

historyings inaugurate a place
or can present the past from consequences
fill the moon and call it an apple field
foster a soul longer than identity
naturally this for not yet not yet harmony
unstable as water charted from the couched
necessarily to establish this when
given the gardens of sure emaciations

                                           (9.ii.2003/19.viii.2004)

 

* * *

                                                  its exits and

                    entrances

 

 

                    its exits and entrances

 

 

                    its exits and entries

 

 

                                           (ezechiel 43:11)

 

 

copyright © Anne Blonstein