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Poem of the Week by Rachel Blau DuPlessis

By Rachel Blau DuPlessis


There was an other side

a space behind, in back,

an overmuch, an

into which

where muffled voices throb without their names.

It, whatever the term,

falls out of range

such regular registers

as corporations,


orchestrated bailouts –

basically, what computes.

Screening odd stuff curled in the can

all of it strictly rushes,

it showed drive, but drifted into derive,

hardly a “ray focusing”

anything to a point,


what needed to be considered.

Cheerfully “now,” a callow vector,

with the before missing, the after inconsequent.

Twenty years here,

twenty there


and go frail.


Unsolicited mourning

floods this site

a well of muted consciousness.

Connaissance inutile.

Do you make it useless knowledge?



or unthinkable recognition?

Untranslatable it

is the transverse torque

across this course.

A lost specificity:

not documentary, not song,

but a wall;

“the” evoked, but what’s to point at –

incomprehensible zero space?

the ledger’s incalculable underside?

An execution usually “over there,”

some last words that

frame the poisonous cavils

of the general listener

who modifies and justifies

who disclaims and denies,

but basically can’t stop

going along.

RACHEL BLAU DUPLESSIS will be the featured guest at the next Studio Series reading at 8 p.m. Saturday at Just Buffalo Writing Center, 468 Washington St. An award-winning poet, essayist, editor and literary scholar, she is best known for her long poem “Drafts,” which she began in 1986 and published the final installment (“Surge: Drafts 96-114”) of in 2012, as well as her feminist critical studies about gender and poetics, including “Writing Beyond the Ending: Narrative Strategies of Twentieth-Century Women Writers” (1985), “The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice” (1990), and “Blue Studios: Poetry and its Cultural Work” (2006). A professor emeritus of English at Temple University (where she taught for nearly four decades) since June 2011, her most recent book is “Purple Passages: Pound, Eliot, Zukofsky, Olson, Creeley and the Ends of Patriarchal Poetry” (University of Iowa Press, 2012). This poem is from “Drafts 1-38, Toll” (Wesleyan University Press, 2001).