Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Notes For Echo Lake 4

I will lobby for this poem the rest of my life. When I first came across it sometime in the late 80s, it, well, changed something in me. It caused me to approach perception differently. So, today, since I’m busy and can’t think of anything to say, I’ll pos it again. It’s the poem of our age. We all exist in its shadow.

Notes for Echo Lake 4
Michael Palmer

Who did he talk to

Did she trust what she saw

Who does the talking

Whose words formed awkward curves

Did the lion finally talk

Did the sleeping lion talk

Did you trust a north window

What made the dog bark

What causes a grey dog to bark

What does the juggler tell us

What does the juggler’s redness tell us

Is she standing in an image

Were they lost in the forest

Were they walking through a forest

Has anything been forgotten

Did you find it in the dark

Is that one of them new atomic-powered wristwatches

Was it called a talking song

Is that an oblong poem

Was poetry the object

Was there once a road here ending at a door

Thus from bridge to bridge we came along

Did the machine seem to talk

Did he read from an empty book

Did the book grow empty in the dark, grey felt hat blowing down the street, arms pumping back and forth, legs slightly bowed

Are there fewer ears than songs

Did he trust a broken window

Did he wake beneath a tree in the recent snow

Whose words formed difficult curves

Have the exaggerations quieted down

The light is lovely on trees which are not large

My logic is all in the melting-pot

My life now is very economical

I can say nothing of my feeling about space

Nothing could be clearer that what you see on this wall

Must we give each one a name

Is it true they all have names

Would it not have been simpler

Would it not have been simpler to begin

Were there ever such buildings

I must remember to mention the trees

I must remember to invent some trees

Who told you these things

Who taught you how to speak

Who taught you not to speak

Whose is the voice that empties


At 7/27/2010 6:56 PM, Blogger Nate said...

Such a great poem--it's been so long since I read it. Thank you!

At 7/27/2010 7:08 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I'm never far away from it. For me, it's the light in the room. It doesn't make the room. It's the light in the room.

It's a big room. Plenty of things are in there. But this is the light in the room.

At 7/28/2010 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reminds me a lot of Ron Silliman!

adam strauss

At 7/28/2010 3:44 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Don't let Ron Silliman hear you say that!

At 7/29/2010 1:14 AM, Blogger Louise Mathias said...

I've read this poem a few times in the past, but this is the first time that the light came on for me. Thanks for posting.

At 7/29/2010 6:40 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Absolutely. I know what you mean.

At 7/31/2010 9:57 PM, Anonymous Kazim said...

O I love this poem. And another like it for me is Underneath (13) by Jorie Graham.

At 8/02/2010 11:04 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Thanks for that. I haven't thought of that Graham poem in years.

At 8/02/2010 11:26 AM, Blogger Jordan said...

I hear a lot of Laurie Anderson in it now.

At 8/02/2010 11:45 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Ew. How funny!


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