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  • Two Poems
  • Charles Bernstein

Armed Stasis

I will make a fact with you Robert Frost. Me on the one side, you on the one side. No learned astrologer will ever Separate us, crouching in the proverb- Ial darkness even when it sounds like Light. —Gosh I gotta go soon, even now The Jersey shore beckons, my cabana For your cheddar, my bootstraps for your boot.

Loneliness in Linden

    after Wallace Stevens

The fear and the hum are one. Monuments of show gumming the works Until the weather grows tired of the people And the people grow tired of the dance. Jamais, jamais, jamais, again.

The measure of the town against a dampening sky Cobbling together six million tunes Into more than the tones tattoo Or their scrambled mosaic forecloses. [End Page 103]

And if the fume and the hope Are one? My monkey, from ’49 Steps as silent as those songs Along the cratered dark Where Jews do Jewish things No one pretends to understand Or are they pilgrims on this night When the fear and the hum are one?

In response to an editor’s question about Jewish references in “Loneliness in Linden,” Charles Bernstein commented: “There was a community of Holocaust survivors in Linden, including some of Susan’s relatives [that is, Susan Bee, an American painter and book artist], thus the ‘tattoos,’ etc. And in the Frost poem, the cabana is possibly a Jewish reference—albeit oblique. It’s odd to me that both poems have a Jersey reference.”

“Armed Stasis” and “Loneliness in Linden” reprinted from Recalculating (University of Chicago Press, 2013) and with the permission of the author. [End Page 104]



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