Eleni Sikelianos is the author of Earliest Worlds (Coffee House Press, 2001). Her work has appeared in Grand Street, Chicago Review, Sulfur, New American Writing and other journals. She has won a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative American Writing.





Canto: Rocks (which Hold the History of the World Thus Far)

Look! Itís a rock depicting the solid
outer world! Iím looking at it through a flea-glass – It has to do

with all the human atoms in history

Live rocks are at the roots of clouds? or is it (as always) the other

way around? The grasses are a soft grace. Grasses please
the heart, rock to rock,
mountain to mount, woman

to man. Then follows a Book
for each of the nine kinds & three faces

of rocks, beginning with Trees
& Feathers and Flowering plants.
(It goes as far as the infinite series.) First the he in here

was enthusiastic
of what and was

speaking with pebbles in his mouth, then he was running
and speaking with rocks//Next, he was a woman with salt
at the back of the throat// What conquers how we might talk
is the will to do so

There is a correspondence to the object
and a way of loos(en)ing the teeth,
                                     speech,
                 I sucked

the hammer & chisel from the marrow of the rock. In a pyrrhic history in the
victory of rocks I made the ear
do the work of the eye, with a noctograph, recorded
the eidetic memory of rocks

            The dull mind rises through that which is material
            & is resurrected, anew a luminous skeleton, a thunder-,

            ice- , fire-, T.-, a bird given over
            to us, newly
            tottering in new air

In rocks like unto gold or silver or stone I saw

the films of ice
the crystalline intelligence of war, still
point of the turning world, delight
taken in at the ears, the lowly
heights – Behold we are moving towards something
that resembles
a daily life (The "movies" entered in 1912);     we had a done thing     a thing we had

done, & doing it     a doing thing being done & the doing of that
thing done being done     Then there were rocks.   (They soon added rhythm
to speech by acquiring gestures.) (They will add vowels and we
will express ourselves.) Someone will cluster
consonants and we will produce pictures. (Feelings sought
refuge from absolute speech.) ("I recommend
flicking the tongue to chase out
the last of it.") Behold the beholden progressing
from past to future. Spectators jumped
from 0 to 12. Things used to be made & moved of stone
& all that was done

or felt or thought
& the myth
of all that was felt or thought and done
throughout the course of the far
forward & far back, extending
on & on in die Nacht
of rocks
& in the day
of glass
& breaking
forward & back






Essay: In the Land of What Dress

Iíd like to share this news:
where were you when we were getting hired?

                                                 (I was getting into
my scintillating towering super shiny super green metallic
    super duper iridescent bug dress I was wearing
      out of the forest to outshine
            you all (quietly))


I am stuck in the Land of What

Dress to Wear–:    Nice barn, nice house
Flags and poles, and flags and poles, but
                                                              Dear Midwest,


in the flat flat flatlands (in the) (heart-)

My poems made the low plains, the Cowpalace, move.






Travelogue: When We Consider the Dark Light

if you could hear a town grow, to wondr about other, distant objects
by the 10ís and dozens    a block away    from everything    in the world:

(saw them) in Ontario hauling tobacco up to the rafters, Erie Eau town
to the right, & to the left, the Erie Eau girls

I lay flat of my belly (this is an old hobo trick) washing my feet
in Niagara water             To the left, the stretch into endless
are dark at night"    the incalculable

is a vast number
increased by multiples,  then by squares

the length of one zero
occupies how much space

it takes
me to wake

the body
as a boat

which crosses
death        or sleep   is it   with

or without
measurement?    the "heart" is the seat

of the "intellect;"  the heart is wrapped in paper & re-inserted; the head
takes animal form (qubehsenuf)   probably

a cow, just as a man or woman will smoke the lights
moving in and out
at the darkened peripheries

of cities or an atomís parts
will weave at the brightish middle, and when we

put our fingers to the heart,
it goes out, lighting it up

by thinking  the thinking heart   so smokeable






Essay: Of Sun, of History, of Seeing

In this one, seeing is a form of touchng
(take darsan/ take image/ take sight)

the eyes are the last part completed
the eyes are finally opened with a golden needle

At the moment of its most complete
irradiation : the navel : the eye : unfolds
a (silk)
pavilion

a
peduncle
of

(gold)

leafing
into the road the goal

becomes
to obey (without
question)

the (something)

linked by way of
(something)

to an hour
a season
with nothing

in particular
to justify it ––

as hard as I tried    /     a screen of my eyes
to have nothing   in front of them   but my hands

as in when looking one is said to see
the thing better when looking

away //
to adhere to there /
I couldnít ankle the effort of other flowers to satisfy
the names which came to faces to make
a person  :  the eyes are finally opend with a golden needle

to answer the luminosity of creation wth simple organs


I shall survive on prairie mice.