Pieces of an Hour Poem by Anne Waldman

Anne Waldman

New Jersey / United States

Pieces of an Hour



She is roused to write on call for a performance. The poet needs summoning from mental torpor and welcomes a structure which she creates with dogged attention. She has also given her students the same assignment: to write every day within the same hour in the same spot. One woman never strays from the laundry closet. John Cage is quintessential artist of this century, likely the most innovative. His "passivity," if you could call it that, both gentle & active. His work is fierce. She pays homage in a kind of twilight meditation, whatever sounds come out of her composed in this "chance" procedure to accompany an evening of his piano music which also allows for improvisation. His work gives permission to speak of the animals inside her. She is also at an interstice with the sounds of Gertrude Stein ringing in her ear. Stein is such a man. Cage seems the androgynous alchemist. She will perform with 2 men.

preparation: on 6 different days write within the increments of one hour

dear John Cage:

=what?=
=Time me=

TIME E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E

=individual who is=
=effective=
=drama drama=
=but, with a turn of gentry pretension=
=who is=
=pattern in a great part persist=
=ist los?=
=sacred gesture, utilize it=
=what—in counting?=
=4 minutes 33 seconds=

=patrician etiquette=
=of their family=
=daily like is built=
=pieces of an hour=
=1 the cause=
=2 the ceremony=
=minute flicker three=
=you see the inside of her plan=
=on every hour a minute is recorded to match=
=her time=
=prepare the piano=

=it is never wasted=
=meet the man in boulder it is a time=
=Cage's laugh would wake the dead=

=complex can be cursory=

=intricate palm leaf offering=
=but empirically, it is signal=

=restless, & where=
=dupe of leader=
=ritually a muted one=
=turn to dust=

=pieces of an hour=
=in which a small bolt was living=

=suspended web of significances=

=demand explication=
=undomesticated thought=

=it in motion=
=Tuesday=

=curious=

=coherent cluster=
=endurance=

...................................................................................

=incomplete unfinished animals=
=who complete ourselves through culture=
=through highly particular forms of it=
=Javanese, Hopi, Italian, upper class, lower, middle=
=you are on the fringes too=

=Our plasticity has been remarked upon=
=but even more how dependent on=
=a certain sort of learning=
=weather, stripping, rubbing=

=attainment of this concept I tell you it is true=
=specific systems of symbolic meaning=
=beaver build a dam=
=bird you build your nest today=
=baboon organize into social groups, go do this now=
=mice mate on the basis of forms that rest on instructions=
=coded in their genes=
=they can't wait to do this=
=& evoked by patterns of external stimuli=
=physical keys inserted into organic locks=
=but women locate food, build dams=
=shelter, organize social groups or find sexual consorts=
=under the guide of instructions=
=encoded in flow charts and blueprints=
=moral systems, aesthetic judgments=
=ground plan of activity=
=second segment of preparations=
=fine eye for detail=
=Wednesday=

=quest: metaphysical entity=
=cultural artifact=
=me au dessus piano=
=chips, stones, plants=
=I want to tell you a story=
=Henry David Thoreau was one of them=
=and walked=
=wakaru: (to understand) means to be divided=
=widdershins: take the left-hand path=
=baboon you sleep now=
=I am subject that I am object=
=and took to the hills=

=I was a hidden treasure=
=& I loved to be known=
=so I created the world=
=I was a word then I hid my treasure=
=mind is outer space piano: continuous memory=
=penumbral light=

=tiled tight=
=was words then=
=mottled=
=his thought pluck'd a string=
=strain=
=Cage=
=inverts the piano=

=1 minute away awaits a wit=
=without shuffling the debris of monolith intelligence=
=Thursday: mix, a rehearsal=

COMMENTS OF THE POEM

Anne Waldman

New Jersey / United States
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