by Robert Kelly


I want the new thing

the disclosure

men among the trees

crow feathers in their caps

protecting order,


the long legato of Vivica Genoux

embracing a castrato aria from Artaxerxes                 Johann Adolf Hasse


because love is the slimmest

mercury, a fan dance of potash even,

measure me for a chessboard

feel my poor spine and listen

to that animal electric avatar


reborn every morning

chanting at you dull as monks

prioritizing rapture


o such language darling

you whose spokes are longer than the wheel

must spin in the air of agreement


―the sun is clear this morning,

bene volente ― frictionless in almost



            Beneath their Aqua Velva chins

the channelers grunt and strain to pass

a licit message ― where do words come from,

Equivoque, where does the lighter get its flame,

plastic Prometheus of so many pockets,


you mean itís ok to tell the truth ―

only to your mother, and she is deaf.

Dead?  Words, where from, will you,



             A narrow place where everything is born,

they call it so.ma, freshness, the gap

between any notice and the next

― any moment you might be speaking Turkish―

truth touches you in the night

you roll over, truth caresses the pillow

where later youíll fall asleep and dream,

messages everywhere.


                                    Go back to school,

study Inorganic Chemistry, discern

what the rest of the world is thinking, the part

of it that wonít breathe in and out,

the people who just took one deep breath

and it lasts forever.  The salt of God,



the silex sparking in the fleshy night,

plastic also comes from living things,

drink gasoline.  Itís what you do to life

that makes it hurt.


the terrifying acceleration, stretto,

Armageddon in every molecule.


No wonder we need a new coat now and then

to hide our naked newborn skin,

the thing that happens to the waking mind

blue sky after days of rain.


Central disorder

rapture bound around her ankles

strum the catgut she uses to connect

the botryoidal mindset

with her prancing feet ― ripe ripe

and movely ripe, clusters

of the frost sweetened grapes

chastened to the ice-wine

of November rivers,

I am yours,


                        you wait there

storming at the Sea Gate

enraged at me but still

sharing my pizza, one wedge

for two appetites,

we spent our lust on living

foodlessly fat.




But the airís dry now, my sparrow,

and the pale delight is back

the haunted shade inside your clothes


the pale shadow that is your skin

now tell me what divine opacity

casts that shade and from what light


Now summon from the yew trees to appear

medium demons of high magic, Saltarellus,

Sequoius, Quousquinus, they know their jobs,

they can have you on your back in no time

interviewing the immortal stars


and make them answer.  They hardly know

what theyíre saying, and youíre no better,

you live for these moments of pure jive

when every word is shining ruby

tail light in rain.





Circle me with light,

there you are, young glory,

one foot past the other

like a goat going over a rope bridge,

be like the bird but donít fly,

be like the moon but donít fall


as she my sister does night after night

excruciating slow.


In all those pages find me one new thing,

anything, name of an angel,

lips of a woman you (not I) kissed in dream ―

a kiss is strange, a wordless speaking

in the otherís mouth,


and the sun writes only shadows on the ground,

tell me, lover, one new thing,

thatís all, fox in a thicket it could be, a hunter

dead beside his rifle, a green

feather in his hat band rolled from his head,

and not far away you hear a waterfall.










Robert Kelly attended CUNY and Columbia University, and since 1961 has taught at Bard College. He has authored more than 50 published volumes of fiction, poetry and prose-poems. His 1967 novel The Scorpions first brought him a cult readership. In 1980, his book Kill The Messenger won the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and in 1985, A Transparent Tree received the prestigious Academy-Institute Award from the American Institute of Arts and Letters. Robert has been poet-in-residence at Tufts University and at the California Institute of Technology. His fiction has been translated variously into Italian, German, and French.

He is also the editor of Matter, a magazine which, after more than 30 years in sleep below the Blue Mountains, has awoken to take up where it left off ó offering quick glimpses of new work from those investigating the world by word.


Copyright by Robert Kelly,  2003.  All rights reserved.
Copyright   ©   2003    Entelechy: Mind & Culture.  All rights reserved.