Nocturne with a Line from Porchia



Nocturne with a Line from Porchia

Everything is nothing, but afterwards.
I rise and the moon disturbs the darkness,
revealing symbols, a few stolen words
on the bureau. Tomorrow I’ll express
my gratitude by disappearing be-
fore I’m found, which is to say goodbye
before hello, a paradigm for the
prepossessed. Compton tells us to imply
what’s missing, like Van Gogh or Bill Monroe,
but why listen to the dead before they’ve
stopped speaking? Unfortunately we throw
out the bad with the good, only to save
the worst. I return to bed, and the floor
spins. Nothing is everything, but before.


* * *

This first appeared in The Blue Hour Magazine in December 2014, and is also included in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform. The line “Everything is nothing, but afterwards” comes from Antonio Porchia’s Voices, translated by W.S. Merwin. Porchia wrote one book in his lifetime, but what a book it was! Often described as a collection of aphorisms, Voices is so much more – each time I open the book, I find new meaning in old lines.



19 thoughts on “Nocturne with a Line from Porchia

  1. It is funny that you bring up Porchia, the man that stated,”following straight lines shortens distances, and also life” when you wrote a rather deep poem about Brahma & the straight line. Could the Great Truth (i.e. greatest truth) lie between your work and his? I think a Okaji-Porchia cento is in order, a Por-kaji!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Metempsychosis throws a rather large spanner in the works of solipsism. It’s a shame so few people ever read the next few lines of the cogito argument. The world does not fail to exist if one closes one’s eyes. Descartes would turn in his grave. So would any number of Atomists. Ever read Parmenides?

    Liked by 1 person

      • “After is before” is in a way prefigured in pre-existence (metempsychosis) insofar as there is a you before what you consider you to currently be. Parmenides introduces the idea that all things have already happened and it is our temporal position which gives the illusion through time of a before and after. It is the egoism of the solipsist which makes the twin mistake of thinking they are what they are and have always been what they are. You may like the work of the sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi who made a series of works entitled “as is when” which certainly owes much to this line of speculation. He was also a surrealist in his early years so there is a nice tie in here with Andre Breton; the main champion of Porchia.

        Liked by 1 person

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