from Richter 858

Gerhard Richter: Detail, 858-4

Gerhard Richter: Detail, 858-4


Michael Palmer, from Richter 858, “Passages”





The red vowels, how they spill
then spell a sea of red

And the bright ships—
are they not ghost ships

And the bridge’s threads
against flame-scarred hills

And us outside
by other worlds



So the promise of happiness?
he asked a frog

then swallowed the frog
And the buzz of memory?

he asked the page
before lighting the page

And by night the sliding stars
beyond the night itself



A table erased
It is not realism makes possible the feast

Grey face turned away
Jam jar of forget-me-nots

Girl with gold chain
cinching her waist

But is it true
And what will become of us



As if the small voices—
one-erum two-erum

pompalorum jig
wire briar broken lock

then into and into
the old crow’s nest—

and so when young,
before all the rest



Crease in the snowy field
of evening within us

How the owl stares
and startles there

fashioning mindless elegy
So the remembered world’s

songs and flooded paths
This heap of photographs



This perfect half-moon
of lies in the capital

Crooks and fools in power what’s new
and our search has begun for signs of spring

Maybe those two bluebirds
flashing past the hawthorn yesterday

Against that, the jangle of a spoon in a cup
and a child this day swept out to sea



But the birth and death of stars?
The birds without wings,

wings without bodies?
The twin suns above the harbor?

The accelerating particles?
The pools of spilled ink?

Pages turning themselves
in The Paper House?



Soon the present will arrive
at the end of its long voyage

from the Future-Past to Now
weary of the endless nights in cheap motels

in distant nebulae
Will the usual host

of politicians and celebrities
show up for the occasion

or will they huddle out of sight
in confusion and fear



Camille Martin

One response to “from Richter 858

  1. Thanks for posting these. They’re amazing — resonant, allusive, and evocative. And I think I’ll use them as instructions to assemble Ikea furniture.


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