Notebook 20, Pages 69-73: Poetry by Hank Lazer

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who comes to mind      that is this place      that is this time

that comes to mind      & thinking here      of thee i sing

those on the horizon      feel the swell      & take it home


at each turning      turn &

turn so it may be a


for one i know      the horn the given instrument      of his singing


each turn      it is      a yearning      feel the swell      & take it home

for another i know      the making of the book      is his given instrument


“for to believe is      precisely this dialectical wavering”  <109>


instrumental in our singing      what comes to mind


feel the swell      & take it home


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voices from the public address

echo   & float away     applause

“this question

about the meaning of meaning …

this kinship of meaning and knowledge …

If it is an adventure of the intelligible …

to become aware

of the question itself,

which calls to it” <111>


as happens at the edge of wading out into swimming into & beside an unimaginable depth an adventuring barely at the edge of exercise or recreation you are moving into these swells arising at the edge of will call it the dao shoreline of a governing emptiness


“the ‘gesture’ of being carried out by beings, inasmuch as they assert themselves      as beings,…

it supposes this substance, beneath all motion …

a reign of a fundamental rest in the verb ‘to be,’

which the grammarians lightly call auxiliary …

That this rest reigns

precisely beneath the vault

of fixed stars, …  Through this rest,

where everything has a place and is

identified, everything takes place.” <112>


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so lost in a simple place      can’t find my way back

he names it cognitive loss      i say a difference of degree

he says he     can’t follow the conversation

old pound   could not make it cohere

perhaps it does not


i say a difference of degree      he says you do not realize the pain of loss


are we not being shown something else      in losing the way


whose way was it      are there not others


the older boy at the table he is a man he is thirty or so     sits with his parents    he has

a sweet full smile  it is a little off   he finds something to talk about something he knows

it is fishing & he shows pictures on his cell phone


“His being     in the world – even unto death,

                                                                                        which measures its  finitude –

                                                is a comprehension of being” <114>
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stripped down to basic words

which had been adequate all along      you stumble

say      upon a rock     it is then the obstacle     new fact


as limitation      becoming the new

& perhaps tragic schooling of your soul


we can hardly stand      to watch it happen

we too will stumble upon said rock


& the puzzled & painful saying of what     can be remembered


“it is the world spread out before us that incessantly

                                                                                    escapes.  It is lived experience

that is postponed in lived experience.” <116-117>
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oh yes     it is a visitation     & truth is “we want to be here”     awakening in a compromised state


so that mind arrives     at acute sense of growing incapacity     i tell you g-d is there too your dissolution


but rather that thought is disquieted by, or awakes from, the positivity wherein it stands in the world” <119>


to be running out of room     “the room that measures years”     to be running out of time


beauty     music     that marvel each day light being here together



“whether the question … is not the very mode of relationship with the Other,

with the uncontainable, with the Infinite.  With God.”  <119-120>

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Hank Lazer’s seventeenth book of poetry N18 (complete), a handwritten book, is available from Singing Horse Press: The four poems/pages in EOAGH , from N20, were written in Honolulu during a family gathering. The quotations are from Levinas’ Of God Who Comes to Mind; the immediate occasion for these meditations on loss and forgetting was my interaction with my uncle, a retired neurosurgeon and longtime astute reader of my poetry. Witnessing his ongoing cognitive losses (from an earlier stroke), I am seeking ways to understand this process as an ongoing schooling of one’s soul. N18P69 (“who comes to mind…”) has been performed with soprano saxophonist Andrew Raffo Dewar.

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