Measure for Measure, November 2015

The Chain of Day and Night

God has ignited the fire
showing him nothing –
in every direction around him is space
and only space
in his winding heart he thinks
amazed that the splendor of eternity’s
beginning
has been snuffed already
Far away man has drawn back in surprise
a flame revealing itself to him
but every direction is space and only
space
in this way, imagination has deceived him
the beginning, in one moment, has
become the end
Nothingness is raging against this reflection
a breath, another, has made its shift
reality’s mirror has shattered
so now anyone exclaims “what is this?
what is that?”
space and only space, space and only
space

—Miraji (1912-1949), Silsila-e roz
o shab, translated from the Urdu by
Meghan Hartman

Ars Poetica

 I somehow manage to filter out all
the inconsequential events in my
life and call the rest “art.” I am the
poet-in-residence on this plane.
Wherever you are, you live there,
unless you are dead. For some
reason “dying” doesn’t work like
“sleeping” even though they are the
same. My grandfather cannot come
to the phone because he is adead. I
put on weight and call it art. If I did
the things I say I did in my poetry, it
would not be poetry. That’s because
it would be “performance art.” With
work, I, too, can be pop music.
Some art jumps out of my hand and
rolls around on the floor. I shout
“hell no, I won’t go” but I have
somewhere to be after this. I get a
lot of head when I am in the shower.
Is poetry like photography where
you get a bunch, pick a few to eat,
and digest them with your name on
them? It’s up to other people to
label my feelings, I don’t do that.

—Max Binder

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