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Office of Institutional Research

Communications & External Affairs

Bob Perelman

Perelman This poetic trace was used in:
Poem 9: Love in the archive
Poem 21: Response
Poem 36: The projection of the intimate into the historical
Poem 40: American Picture

copied and pasted:

after Rilke
What are you saying, Bob? Thoroughly
Urban greenery, wired, giving
Reliable directions? Where? Your head
Is tangled in her dispersing cloud body.

To her, speech is a penal system.
She’ll turn blue and vanish rather than
Keep listening. You’re strong, talk a lot,
But it will be raining any minute.

Maybe just sit on a green bench
And watch clouds pass in and out
Of shapes you can see. She
Likes not being recognized.

That wing is now a grey square.
The wind cuts a new picture in half.
She’s in tatters up there
And you’re reading words on walls.
Shouts mimic the shreds of light.




Gentle analogists rock the surface
of the inhabitable word. I
am the earth, the sun, the moon
the taste of bread, the place

of sex and death. That's why
there are tears at weddings, jokes
at funerals, and animated projections at birth.
Doesn't logic depend on tact?

And if reality has toes to be stepped on
I have whole Patagonias of emotional red ink
taught to the rule of a spiritualized
virtu-laden hickory stick, strict, unspeakable
bodies dying to pronounce its name.

[The First World]


from "Iflife":

Epic and lyric make their little pact under empire
There was Homer, the great sorter-out of blood stains
putting each on a slide of dactylic hexameter
so it holds still forever, more or less, wriggling
but then Sappho said no to Homer
excised her body from the clan mind
so her skin became . . . Put it this way, contact was needy bliss

But under empire there’s always going to be a Virgil and a Horace, one
way or another. Virgil: “Some god gave me this leisure to pipe my oat,
but it does hurt to see you trudging to the refugee camp at the
beginning of my first career-initiating eclogue and I’ll mention you
right up front” and Aeneas sighing, “Isn’t it sad how the soberest
servant of order has to destroy as many details as possible?” And then
there’s Horace



I worked on the McGovern
campaign but threw away
my shield and can’t remember
experiencing any
actual violence

All the outer violence that brings
this wonderfully understated vintage
to one’s lips, well, one is tactful
about how one’s
corners are dented

Yours are looking exceptionally
interesting tonight. I love the
way the original paintjob shows through
Might I check out
that little ridge there?

Feel here in the
center of mine – a little rust
is starting. A pity, isn’t it?
Maybe we can step
out for a spot of sex
after the toasts