048.1: Marthe Reed:: A lapse & Burton prosecutes a dialogue 048

Marthe Reed juxtaposes two forms of communication—oral storytelling and written correspondence—demanding that something come into existence through the use of words: "I demanded she make another appearance." Words, both narrated and inscribed, are a calling out, literally the casting of a spell. But calling forth with words only propagates words, rather than things or actions, and the speakers in these poems are often left demanding, bidding, proposing, corresponding, and finally sensing that "she is not here / nor the difference heard". These words must be received, heard, and accepted to be turned into something. The acting principle is whether someone else listens to the words. Even markers of identification become proposed speech acts rather than semiotic sign systems. Only if we listen to these markers can they be enacted as truth; if we do not listen, then they are lost. The words exist, and all that we can do as participants in this attempted dialogue is realize that in the decision whether to speak or not speak, whether to hear or not hear, whether to write or not write, whether to read or not read, we are confronted with "a maze we may neither fully enter nor abandon." Andrew Wessels

A lapse

               I will speak, therefore, of a letter


a correspondence
another détour
will you wait there

at the edge of the garden
a lapse
forgive me

narrating its stages
some ‘sheaf’
a method of record

she is not here
nor the difference heard
give me your hands

a jewel
beryls, sapphires
it is empty

her tale an order of disorder
discretion’s intervention
not rigorous

I have lost my place


figuring illusion
a finger in the margin
a marked spectacle

she is already there
a note I had left

present in


sheaf, a sheen

begin to trace the perimeter

Burton prosecutes a dialogue

                And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

abjuring correspondence


the pleasure of

any one of these
inscribed to the memory of a friend

the One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Night
I demanded she make another appearance

we were all exhausted
a climatic “disorder”

Burton proposed a kind of game in which
I would have to guess the rules

a sodatic zone
there were others

a blending of masculine and feminine temperaments
not in evidence

a wife and a friend, a fellow scholar
a series of sketches in which the inevitability of her disappearance is irrefutable


“head on knee and hand to cheek”

What do I know of women?
the usual excuse

I lose patience


“she bade the slave girls unbind me and made me drink a cup of wine”

narrative leaves no room for excuse
we were drunk

what will you wish for?

a form of chess in which pawns are courtesans
a maze we may neither fully enter nor abandon