Jack Would Speak Through the Imperfect Medium of Alice Poem by Alice Notley

Jack Would Speak Through the Imperfect Medium of Alice

So I'm an alcoholic Catholic mother-lover
yet there is no sweetish nectar no fuzzed-peach
thing no song sing but in the word
which I'm starlessly unreachably faithful
you, pedant & you, politically righteous & you, alive
you think you can peal my sober word apart from my drunken word
my Buddhist word apart from my white sugar Thérèse word my
word to comrade from my word to my mother
but all my words are one word my lives one
my last to first wound round in finally fiberless crystalline skein

I began as a drunkard & ended as a child
I began as an ordinary cruel lover & ended as a boy who
read radiant newsprint
I began physically embarrassing—'bloated'—&
ended as a perfect black-haired laddy
I began unnaturally subservient to my mother &
ended in the crib of her goldenness
I began in a fatal hemorrhage & ended in a
tiny love's body perfect smallest one

But I began in a word & I ended in a word &
I know that word better
Than any knows me or knows that word,
probably, but I only asked to know it—
That word is the word when I say me bloated
& when I say me manly it's
The word that word I write perfectly lovingly
one & one after the other one

But you—you can only take it when it's that one & not
some other one
Or you say 'he lost it' as if I (I so nothinged) could ever
lose the word
But when there's only one word—when
you know them, the words—
The words are all only one word the perfect
My body my alcohol my pain my death are only
the perfect word as I
Tell it to you, poor sweet categorizers
Every me I was & wrote
were only & all (gently)
That one perfect word

Alice Notley

Alice Notley

Arizona / United States
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