Poetry / Isobel O’Hare

:: 13 ::


Among the bleeding branches I hear sentences of my solilo-
quay. Have you heard the broken limbs of the world-tree knock-
ing, knocking? Here, joy is sternest accuser, a fire that tortures
the wet wood.

I tried to die, one wretched voice declared. There is no death.
I left my body hanging behind me, I sought the void. My body
hangs before me, immortal image. Men still remember. Their
prayers rise from the ground and hold me to the everlasting
promise, to the Adam!

Obsessd poet! another cried. Your desire devours my heart, a rat
tearing at its mate in the rubble of the world. Let us go! The
giant Adam must not awaken, for he would claim even our
ravaged bodies from the consuming black.

Do you not see that dread as well as joy lights the lamps of his
uplifted form? stretchd upon a geometry that rips the wounds
from which, black blood, we flow?

          The Geometry, I saw, oblivious, knew what? of these sunder-
ings? arranged its sentences intolerant of black or white.

No! No! Say that there are two worlds, a man declared. I shot
half my head away.

A woman cried, No! There is but one. I live in one world, and it
is black.

My soul, the man said, swings on hinges of destroyd face. Have
you not seen Yggdrasill, the Abattoir? The human meat is hang-
ing from every bough. Have you no pity that you count the days
of Man?

          You took my life, the woman said. You will not let me die.
Your aroused fire leaves shadows in my heart that whisper to the
black into which I go.



From the writer

:: Account ::

hinge, my erased title of Robert Duncan’s orig­i­nal book The Open­ing of the Field, is a project that began when stud­ies of the poet­ics of breath led me to Duncan’s writ­ing. I start­ed work­ing with his book Roots and Branch­es, the title of which I erased to Roar, and I quick­ly became obsessed.

hinge has tak­en many forms over the past nine months as I have exper­i­ment­ed with var­i­ous meth­ods to visu­al­ly rep­re­sent the erased text and the book as a phys­i­cal arti­fact. After play­ing with white-out, print­ed trans­paren­cies, and cut-up ver­sions of the pages, I set­tled on this sim­ple black and grey lay­out that allows the orig­i­nal text to exist in con­ver­sa­tion with the erasure.

This work is also heav­i­ly influ­enced by the knowl­edge that Dun­can and the poet Charles Olson had a close friend­ship, one in which they devel­oped a mode of poet­ic prac­tice they referred to as “field com­po­si­tion.” It struck me dur­ing my work that many of their ideas about the com­po­si­tion of poet­ry are as high­ly rel­e­vant today as they were in the mid-twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. In our cul­ture that is increas­ing­ly sat­u­rat­ed with “con­tent,” and where poets find them­selves in a con­stant bat­tle between art and finan­cial sta­bil­i­ty, it seems that the field has been for­got­ten. It is my hope that, in some small way, hinge will serve as a reminder.


Iso­bel O’Hare received an MFA in Writ­ing from Ver­mont Col­lege of Fine Arts. She lives in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia, with two cats and anoth­er poet. Her work has appeared or is forth­com­ing in Map Lit­er­ary, FORTH, Dirty Chai Mag­a­zine, Queen Mob’s Tea­house, Numero Cinq, and The Doc­tor T.J. Eck­le­burg Review.