For Steve Dalachinsky, Ira Cohen, and Ronnie Burk • Empty Mirror

recall / credit: emrecall / credit: em

I am reading Lundkvist’s
when he was in
a coma
for two months
when Valery
to tell me
that Dalachinksy
is in
a coma
brain dead
but breathing

this has happened before
it will happen

life invades poetry

the transfusion
across the page
red beacons blue beacons

I stop and close my eyes

there they are
two poets in comas
one will wake
and write
sublunar life

in his body

floating prismatic —

the other
has dropped
into opaque neant
never again
to gain the words
made him —


the music

This will happen again

to gain the words
the sudden brilliant mortal spectrum

eccentric ecstatic

when life
the poem

—for Steve Dalachinksy (September 29, 1946-September 16, 2019)

I have been waiting

He doesn’t come, only his voice

In a dream, the light touch of an absent finger

The rustle of cotton across the black tar that drips from words

These words
Which carry his words

Unctuous vowels of light
Nerves of luminous dark
Where sparks of meaning distill ancestral passions

Hatred as revenge
Love as guilt
Possession as freedom

On this planisphere rushing through time
Suspended between continents, 32,000 feet

I have been waiting for him
An eternal moment
Without momentum

Systole that spins about its own emptiness
Diastole that embodies and emboldens

There is a rhythm to waiting
An intimate script whose scenes dissolve
The second they appear
And which re-member
His voice

In the only words he has left: “Call me!”

— For Ira Cohen (February 3, 1935 – April 25, 2011)
between London-New York

Dear Ronnie,

I picked up your Business Relationships and read it on the bus this morning floating through Times Square. For a moment I thought I was in San Francisco circa 1892 with its big brawling canine infused timber Gorgons swishing their huge barnacled tails down Market Street. But no I thought that couldn’t be true. I’m in Lisbon a day before the 1755 earthquake wondering why a Stryge wanders drunk through the Alfama muttering spells to herself and wringing her hands. Who knows where you are? The last time I saw you I wondered how you could sleep on that ancient green carpet that Ira never cleaned but then I realized that it wasn’t ancient at all but a photogram taken of a mosque in Granada as a waterspout shot its oily feathers, black and glistening, through the thirsty cracks in the roof. Ronnie I still have your last letters with that postcard of Rimbaud where you scribbled in anagrams the laughter of licorice and that shy hoarse drawl you pinned to a dark thick raincloud that hovered over you since you ripped your head off, scrambled your feet and began to burn with the same vivacious fusion as our sulfuric star.
Ronnie, save me a seat on the sky boat that leaves tonight. I have a pack of baseball cards with Ty Cobb on the cover and I know you’ll want to compare his cosmic batting average with your delirious coke bottle dragnet…


— For Ronnie Burk (April 1, 1955-March 12, 2003)

I dreamed that I lost my notebook

I walked through several cities

With a blindfold woven from crow feathers and the sticky dust

That flakes from sheep hooves

I sleepwalked through the crowds and spun around corners

As if I were a top thrown by an angry child

Whose mother left her skin drying on the clothesline

In time I lost sense of who I was and where the notebook might be

This bound vellum casement from which I leaped toward myself

Inhabited by a shadow and that shadow by a thousand other shadows

Each searching for their notebook in foreign cities

That curve along rivers or meander out onto upswelling plains

Where mountains rise and eagles nest

I dreamed that I awoke on an empty street near a tree of light

That spoke every language ever known

Overwhelming music, beautiful and plenipotent

It rose to a crescendo, my ears throbbing

With the rhythms of time and history

Until it diminished to a low, slow whisper

Which was the sound of your breathing next to me

When I knew that I was no longer dreaming

And the tree of light

And the orchestra of words

And the shadow and their shadows’ shadow shadow

Were images

From a dream

I opened my eyes
And this poem
With one voice
Inhabiting one man
At 11:07
On a Monday morning
Was born

Allan Graubard

Allan Graubard is a poet, writer, and playwright with works translated in numerous languages. His plays have premiered in the US and EU. He is the editor of and contributing author to Into the Mylar Chamber: Ira Cohen (Fulgur, UK, 2019), American liaison for and contributing author to the International Encyclopedia of Surrealism (Bloomsbury, UK, 2019), and editorial advisor for and contributing author to A Phala: Revisita do Movimento Surrealista (Sao Paolo, Brazil, 2015). Forthcoming is a book of poems and tales, Western Terrace (Exstasis Editions, Victoria, BC), while 2019 saw Language of Birds, a collaboration with artist Rik Lina (Anon Editions, NY/Flagstaff). In 2017, A Crescent by Any Other Name, selected tales, was published (Anon Editions, NY/LA).

Business Relationships Book