Issue #22 Eclipse


Gregg Bordowitz

Issue #22
January 2011

Each day a required task remains undone
And the mind can’t know what isn’t finished

So, the soul continues to feel alone
Unable to picture its own wishes

The eyes glaze over news from Washington
Vacations collect painted shells on sills

Getting out of bed demands volition

I have nothing to make, no gallery
Yet I persist in calling myself art

Not the maker but the thing itself. Fear
Of the unstructured and unopposed—life

An interminable question—what if?
Poised where one thing ends and another starts

How attached I am to vague discontent
Here now the quality of obscurity

Remoteness of touch, blurred appearances
What this substance called fear-of-being is

A future of one’s own, without consent
Subject to fantasy, unhappiness

Nothing but the hollow empty feeling
Thinking of a chore more common than rent

A flaw no less appealing than money
O, the near rhyme of its proximity

It being something that cannot be told
Held like perplexity, as value

Phony, counterfeit, yet somehow principled
Reportage is such a nice word for it

I live in a fever dream astounded
Chewing on food without taste’s amusement

Listening to the sound of teeth touching
Wondering how the current is ground meat

It’s all a matter of my defenses
Reduced to hidden corners, crouching down

Off-kilter supported by meeting walls
The comfort of geometric limits


I am finished with the life of the mind
The life itself cured me of that ailment

One many revolutions of a wheel
Invisible hamster-like progressions

The length of time remains fruitlessly still
Marching to war against dull wrung senses

Downward motion is stirring to the soul
Disorder as tight circular returns

The ground rises to meet the level eyes
Swirling the oval tilts back in laughter

Leaden with gravity and goalless effort
Dying is the only verb called for here

Summoning the bored creaking mechanism
Summing up the biomechanical

Crying becomes analog for glisten
Shiny, repetitious, strung pearl globules

Linked all together as varicose veins
Age, knowledge and yearning in a sentence

Finding in, the preposition pointing
A circle either makes itself or not

For in the work of searching I am found
Cast, melted or molded as fashion

Crafted with timely details, edges round
Sought after, but not caressed in order

Spun from one gain to another decrease
Roundness, I, not perfectly circular

But many-studded, a devious hat
Lifted off the steaming head—wintry


Its line follows a path of discontent
Leading around avoiding all corners

Goes to one of four burners, pilot lit
Pots and pans rest on the cooking surface

All encircles the hot morning habit
Repeatedly returning the purpose

Sunshine, news, morbid depression, fretting
Heat off the rippling surface steaming face

Stultified and incredulous
Two words appropriate to depression

In their specificity of purpose
They are both proper to the condition

Is this the poem or the mood I write?
The difference between thought and feeling

Must I choose among senses, sound or sight?
As if one is more proper to being

Not perfect still I am found in spirit
Submerged permeated contained infused

Alternately both agent and subject
The two being the same, it’s confusing

All existing prepositional it
Increasing knowledge dispels delusion

Is mysticism a refuge or retreat?
Letting go of all facile solutions


Divine impulses hold fascination
As the poet crafts his own vehicle

Aesthetic judgments rhyme with sensation
They investigate what’s empirical

Meter is the order of creation
A numerical system beneath all

Life’s a gradual accumulation
Adding up to the inevitable

Cliché is the future of all poems
Words exert no mastery over will

Poems explore every condition
Physical, political, mystical

They confound reason with core emotions
They expand what we think is reasonable

But the chief purpose is not expression
The purpose is simple—fundamental

Writing constructs a girding suspension
Fixing holding supporting encircles

Catches the present for recollections
Turns experience into little pills

Imaginary reports that surround
The spatial configurations of illness

Unlocatable origins of sound
The theory as substance of belief

Talking about forms and how thoughts subtend
How bracts extend underneath their petals

Finding the point of a line, touching the ground
Letting go of sense, relieved of power

Contemplate the oval in its roundness
To conceive of nothing, forget the hour


Let’s make ‘I am here’ the sole proponent
Lose control. Rise up to fall down

How to talk about circularity?
A question arises about language

The names we have don’t match appearances
Who’s to tell what one does to another?

And how does one make the damn topic rhyme?
Trust no scheme with any fidelity

I’m bored, fatigued, I have too much baggage
The frames we use don’t catch the nuances

I’m through with description—why bother?
I’m getting older, running out of time

No more interest in identity
What is perception? What’s reality?

To be in the world and not of the world
I recall that Lenin instructed that

O, to be done with collecting these pearls
Sayings and maxims, masters long deceased

Deeply alienated from this world
And there is no outside from which to judge

This is about prepositions and roles
About how we connect object to object

The way behavior swings between two poles
And how we remain in constant discomfort

We exist inside something enfolded
Knowing ourselves only through habit

Through prepositions we move things, get fed
Survive by actions conjoined with projects

We move in circles until we are dead
Leaving memories and a few effects

The ear moves between the world and the dead
Here each line describes this trajectory

Transcribing views from within an ellipse
Testifying to the hazy border

I’m trying to get beyond this crisis
To make some sense of my fractured order

With words find meaningful ways to exist
Be all elements, earth fire air water

Trying to render language matter
Daily I touch the creative process

There is no purpose or reason to persist
The aim is to get beyond bitterness

Because the house of reason collapsed
And we were all present bearing witness

We are reliving matters of the past
Confusing present and future tenses

Return to Issue #22

Gregg Bordowitz is a writer and artist. His most recent book General Idea: Imagevirus was published as part of Afterall Books’ One Work series. Bordowitz is currently the Chair of the Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


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