Reuben Woolley has a beautiful new book out titled Broken Stories (Wales: 20/20 Vision). I’m still reading it and connecting dots but Reuben appears to me to be working in the Objectivist mode. What really connects Woolley with Oppen and the other members of this group is not only the form he gives his work but the absolute sincerity evident in the manner, the mode, and the subjects he chooses to consider in his writing. Congratulations are in order.
Find the glass window set in the cobbles
outside Humboldt’s University. You’ll
need to angle your view and wait until
the light reveals the whiteness of the empty
shelves, a void in Europe’s heart.
Judischen, entartate: this is where
they began the burning of the books,
flames and sparks, yellow like stars,lighting the way
to ghettos, wagons, lines of wire, ashes, bones.
Ghosts gather, tug at your sleeve politely,
plead that you read the Book of the Dead.
Its opening page lies at your feet. Descend
to lamentation’s rainbow.
Learn this lesson: assume the supplicant’s
position, low before the arbiter.
Hang your petition on the ox’s horn and
pray as it turns and plods inside the keep.
Forty two days in the wilderness, longer
than Christ’s self-chosen stay. Time to go home
and count the copper pennies in your palm, time
to scour the bins for corn cobs overlooked,
scraps on bones, nubs of bread, hide candles
and kindling, beg remission on your rent.
Time to forage hedgerows, scrape bark for baking
bread, claw the furrows for potatoes, hush
the hungry child while you lie clamped and clemmed,
fashioning hope from feathers and dung.
You may be lucky: beneficence
parsimonious may be granted or
day on day on days delays will find you
in winter’s shadow outside the castle walls.