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Ray DiPalma


From The Ancient Use of Stone


January 8  Music is restricted to anecdote.  “Might as well be walking on the sun.”  An intimate reticence, to be recorded and later read aloud.  No evidence—a system owned—like a by-product.


Original time, believe the projection—watch the fissure spin.  I tell you there’s light for
it.  And aire.  The scheme from which the rock is abridged.  Engaged in constructing an


                                                Engaged in constructing

                                                A series of events:

                                                The scheme from which

                                                The rock is abridged


The inexorable merge missing the membrane of responsibility.  “I don’t know,” he said to the cat.  [Only partially visible, 4 PM.]


Hangs from the shoulder.  The outcome is exposure, standing doubt, outside the frame.   Still, engaged.  Thrown.


Take what’s under there out.  Nothing misdirected inside the voice.  The struggle of alternation.  Penetrated or destroyed?


Written over again [no change between] written over again.  The wall [the brick] the
wall.  The wall [the brick] the wall.  The wall [the brick] the wall.



January 21  [Sic loquitor equus]  Vendetta = comes the debt—


—in libro etymologico—

This friend of a friend . . . tell him for me: “Omnem volve lapidum.”


What do we have for memory?

Not merely these remaining words.


Contradiction to contradiction to contradiction, held in suspension at right angles to one another.  He asked for depth and received grid upon grid variously angled.


That, and breath found at the back of the throat. 


Hiddenness placed in an arrangement.  On its behalf: the focus just another place to
begin.  The cunning grid, the repeated frame: self absorption.


Whose corners for entropy?  Prodigious form?


Mine—or possibly mine.


12:30 AM—A tarantula-sized asterisk and a dog in the hall.


Because of the lifebook they are paving the jungle road ever deeper.


Resolution: Behold the circuit, as wide as the wrist.

Resolution: An extraction.


Andantino: The reminder carefully tapped close to the ear, admirably attentive to a threadbare topic. Ta tata tatatata ta—



January 28  Follow the vein.  Dig, clear, and stope it out.  Without story or program notes.  The record written in moumia, a mix of wax and tallow, on a parchment of
camel’s skin.


The same said and the terms of the saying: hie, kotan, karabi— cold, icy beauty, simplicity, & austere, monochromatic dryness.


‘He seldom speaks; he loathes conversation, he spurns news of any kind, he shrinks from strangers . . .’ [Beckford, Alcobaça & Batalha]


Souvenirs or splinters, accumulations of data, selected prejudices—gathering at the core.  My route from Kaf to Kaf.


To be entered sideways, but still facing East.  How does it look from in there?  Two
turns.  And now?  Are you still facing East?  There should be enough light to perceive the wave-knot cresting the far wall.


Grapes, olives, and figs.

Acorns, dried fish, and pomegranates.


What part of the past the series dictates writ small?


Descriptive, momentary variables—ko [     ] tan


The contents of the frame turned to a right angle against the horizon spadework.

The contents of the frame turned at a right angle across the horizon—each according to
its own time.  The respective.  Eye beyond eye.


An auditor who never made more than a very brief visit to the systematic—no such thing as an excellent summary—that being their words—



January 30  Ruminative, something very fine to murmur, but not explain.  An aptitude
for what takes shape beyond the page.


. . .  age-old nomadic customs . . . [their] objects and associated rituals.


Wrapped in felt.


Allocutions.  Tales of traders.  The cryptic mention of attributes.  The thread turned and pulled.  Not without reason.  Adjacent strategies.  Hallucinatory and skeptical.  Some unravelled, some detachable part.



February 11  What counts is what’s written down—nothing to be said until then.
Nothing to extend the half hour.  Only the ice-scratch.  Resurrected in predicament. Head held back, lest the words fall out of his nose.


They hunt for sentiments to fit into their vocabulary.  [EP] 


For there are more letters in all languages not communicated

For there are some that have the power of sentences.  O rare

     thirteenth of March 1761.

For St Paul was caught up into the third heavens.

For there he heard certain words which it was not possible for him

     to understand.

For they were constructed by uncommunicated letters.

For they are signs of speech too precious to be communicated for ever.

                                                                        -Jubilate Agno






The book is an album

not a final set of solutions


The real discoveries

Are to be found elsewhere


What the book exhibits

Are the ways to them




[i] In consideration.  In despite.

[502. “What sentence?”]


[ii] Matter

Grammar & physics




Totality: a selection from all the intervals.

Infinity: the time to make a selection.


What might eventually be arrived at?  [Via x to x.]

Only particular parts, concentric.




[Apropos January Zero]:


69.   Isn’t it like this: a phenomenon (specious present) contains time, but isn’t in time.

       It’s form is time, but it has no place in time.

       Whereas language unwinds in time.

                                                                        -Philosophical Remarks




Codex—a map of auspicious places—its array

Gateway to gateway.

Unentered—earning what it says.  And abandons.


How far does the writ extend in order to establish a pattern?

The length and width of the vein: though misled by analogies—

Undetermined variations scaling the dial—


A continuous transition difficult to negotiate

—The reach obtrudes

Any part of the straight line that establishes the curve


The mark that distinguishes the materials

From the preferred solutions—

Launching and overtaking the first context


A ligature established and sustained beyond any formula


Something dislodged and turned upside down



February 12  Not veneer—heartwood.  Descriptive signatures.  The purely descriptive spoken at the demonstrable.  Sayable, therefore of secondary importance.  An exclusionary perspective shaped by what has been brought about and turned to.


Savoring a lack of emphasis, while misunderstanding any progressing aspect of a possibility.  Misdirection.  As discoverable by . . .  Beyond assent.  This will be set out by what has been set upon.  The aggressions of form.  Beyond suggestion or shared
regulative assent within the congering subtleties of paradigm.




In a crude box of stone.  Ostensives.  Bones.


The materials: an observable legacy.

The simplest and the most problematic.


A portion of distance the water embossed.




Appraisal of validity—and with of.


Affirmed only within a portion of its fullness—an aspect that would enlarge upon what is only partially knowable—then protracted and retracted throughout what-ever theoretical bias has been established. 


Once again, not the thought but the thinking, lost with the sphinx’s tail.




Hypothesizing primary losses and gains

Postulating primary losses and gains


“I discovered and ventured divers answers; I distinguished between ages, peoples, degrees of rank among individuals; I departmentalized my problem; out of my answers there grew new questions, inquiries, conjectures, probabilities—until at length I had a country of my own, a soil of my own, an entire discrete, thriving, flourishing world, like
a secret garden the existence of which no one suspected.”

                                                                        -On the Genealogy of Morals




            “Poems should echo and reecho against each other.  They should create resonances.  They cannot live alone any more than we can.”


            “Things fit together.  We knew that—it is the principle of magic.  Two inconsequential things can combine together to become a consequence.  This is true of poems too.  A poem is never to be judged by itself alone.  A poem is never by itself alone.”



Put back on the way down the hall

—Thus, thus, and so


The point of this last remark, etc

So many, and several others


The same traps



February 16  Alternative drafts, partial erasures, repetitions, and additions—No final form.  What remains is approximate and mutually exclusive.  There should ever be only two copies.


Dry, cold, moist, or hot—


Sanguine, hot and moist, Air

Choleric, hot and dry, Fire

Melancholy, cold and dry, Earth

Phlegmatic, cold and moist, Water


[. . . a learned store of ethical precept culled from many ancient authorities.]


Let Nepheg rejoice with Cenchris which is the spotted serpent.

For I bless God in the libraries of the learned and for all the booksellers in the        world.

                                                            -Jubilate Agno, Fragment B


Sentimental, ill-tempered, and enormous

And this distinction—

The distractions of great bones, gleaming blackness, and enormous frowns

A permission for death and nothing ornamental



February 17  “Leave no widows.”  He was the most honest man I ever met; in consequence of which he was of no use to anyone.  [“Vedi, Albero . . .]


By “frame” he meant his body—  Ankles, all ankles.  Wise and silent, the coldblooded starts here.  Pathetic and bronze, something to walk past on the way to lunch.  Motioning from deep within a mysterious and noiseless endurance, it remains a showpiece blocking the aisle no matter where it’s placed.


The ms. was lost and pieces were scattered everywhere.  The search for original pages goes on to this day.  Soothing iotas—something that can be built only from what has been left behind.  That degree of intelligence usually missing from anything rhapsodic.
Humming and confessing, sporadic internal noises, effigies and comparisons.  One set of instruments explaining matters to another set of instruments.  Who said why to whom?  Nostalgia, doubts, and rumors all beside the point.  The parlance you need, the parlance you put your mind to.




Veritas etched on the bi-focal

in 7 point type


The weed in the dogma

Supports the late harvest


Menial vigor kept moving

To emerge from the smoke


Diamonds tumbled

With clods of frozen sand



February 18  Edge, the only unity.  Turned out to stare at the broken columns. An
infinite number of sloping lines dropped into a signature.  Intuited from the point of the tower to the small black stone on the table in the corner of the room.


Ten or fifteen words organized around two or three marks of punctuation.


Else—the other side

Else—a point, a large hole




Sentences in ink

Sentences in light


Red wheels beneath the track across the mirror

At the edge of the field



In which a system of touch is

Suspended in copies of yellow


A little more of the distance

Shadow across shadow


What is not in its place

What is missing


The fidelity of a

Motionless egg




THE ROBOT & THE NAKED MAN [25 Years Later]


A more aggressive neutrality is expected

From the mechanical marvel standing in the corner

Wrapped in white and left on the stairs

Everything analyzed by sound

Its particle nature in fine amounts named gathered and hidden

Captions on a spool in conversation with and more receptive to

An undetermined science and whatever else might lie just ahead

A symmetry of shadows extends through the ones it casts

Unclear what was lost clear where the loss took place



February 19  “Oaths are the fossils of piety.” -Santayana


In an attempt to transcend my limitations I have thought to create an expressive
neutrality.  These pages I give to the dog to shred.






‘I have not brought

the message.  I came

with the message.


I am a part of what

is said to have





Pauses or deletions in the text: ainos (story) & ainigma


“. . . an abstract unity . . .” [Baudelaire]:

and the unapproachable distance.


“All research on the labyrinth ought properly to begin with the dance.” [Kerenyi]


An inevitable order in the world

Compels silence


Not an outcome but a simulacrum

Of its rhythm






Divisions by folio

increment is shrugged into convention

Stock still and lacking the immediate

it stretches through the inconspicuous until

the undifferentiated and meditative appear

Supple and resistant and as attentive as unheard

amark on the erasable floor

What thought would you give

to the thought you would give—

disputing abstractions

non plus modes under foot

in ruling out the perfected space around anything attached—

divining the obstinate and axial






Blindfolded and consoled

he stood beside the blackened cabinet

where the monument had occurred—the moon,

barbed wire, buttons of limestone, dirt, and ice—

succinct and equidistant


Another cigarette another whiskey in extremis

explained the private leagues and fathoms of dent—


Amnesia and a footprint over the sigh

co-opt the nightly report

invite concern for a spotless record


Had it been colder, had it been thicker

it might have worked better



February 23  L’autre jour, facing the rectangle painted in red and silver . . .  During the course of the day a man arrived from X—bringing with him several small clay tablets, papyri, and inscribed parchments.  These he had wrapped in linen and hidden among his undergarments.  Some months later I heard he contracted fever and died at Aleppo.  As I seem to remember.


            Even now the upheavals of the Thirty Years War continue to drive me from place to place.  But these journeys provide many documents; and their fame spreads through
the desert.  Eau d’eau.


            The fifth edition (I have no way of knowing whether it is the most recent) has
been opened and zealously circulated.  A corrective hand extends from a series of minor
but still somewhat pertinent facts.  Sheltered in a tall narrow structure having neither
doors nor windows.  And beyond that a small temple.


            The icon’s enormous gaze fits into a small silver spoon.  Eyes, forehead, cheekbones, and the mouth.  All distinctly gathered within the bowl of a tiny silver
spoon.  The light from the votive candle underneath the frame washes out all other detail.  Repenting of the optimism it once commanded.  Caught midway between an incisive summary and an indignant sense of dread, denial seeks its unique shape out of an
effective balance of these terms.  Primitive singularities abound.  The standard depiction
on the label of the magic bottle offers practiced installments of ardor the potable contents failed to clarify and advance.


[Here the manuscript breaks off.]  As I seem to remember.



March 10  Home life with tea leaves and a dog.  Where bowls of blossoms and stacks of books meet the blue and green mountains and every conversation begins “I’ve been meaning to tell you.”  A fragile, ingratiating life.  Its occulted goal a minor achievement.


            Interests at the center of any enterprise invariably concern privilege, not the elimination of contradictions.  Lithe in its effort..  The of that departs from the or.  Latent and retractable it motions, prompted by depth, to become a vacant symmetry.  Black, timid, and sour.  The stinking breath of a welcoming conscience confirms a morose expertise.  Any apprehending rules and contradictions dissolve in a carpet of vapors.



March 11




Recording a disaffection with self-surveillance

on a semantic level it functions in the same way again and again


As expression it lacks any other strategic primacy



March 14  [Maze and frieze motifs]


Before the river tributaries

and before the backroads that ran along them were formed


Where powerful alliances were made

and uncertain transitions


The wind stops

15 centuries old


A shadow hiding us

with increasing reluctance

from the moonlight



March 26




Scoured, iconic, and unduly gracious

I must return to all these developments

and not to the familiarity of a shelter hidden

just beyond the stand of trees—

a single room lit with an oil lamp and furnished

with a wooden chair and a zinc-top table


With the assumption of this stance

it has become difficult to miss the deceptiveness of the source

and the changes that have emerged

as readily as photographic evidence


Singled out, fallen short of the realities,

the question has arisen of how this happens—

its ontology realized only in terms of detachment

metamorphosis emerges only in contradiction—

regret, nostalgia, or loss become a gesture for that limit



April 1



At a right angle

to the heaped boundary


As far forward as the strategy

and the light will allow


This is the tongue of the weave



A circumspection

of movements dissolving in aptitude—

errata usurping any call of judgement


Larger than further away

smaller than nearer at hand


The execution of the circle



The mark refuses the ambiguity of its own grace

Shrewdly intricate it relinquishes

the signs and numbers of mishap and abiding calm


Cherished asperities and undisturbed counterfeits



Four black keys and three white

for the edge aside and the divagations of the thaw


Eye-deep in a record to be set straight

the custom of strong opinion is mistaken for a warning


An axis untangles no roots



A mirage in the distance for emphasis



April 3  All the texts of pilgrimage maintained the valid designations.  A self-interrupting apologia comprising brief exclamations and anonymous voices full of responsibility and foreboding—inserted and over-inked, minus the mysteries of exposure.  The almost perfect answer, heard farthest from.






The sun’s a floating stone.  No?

Sepia pre-lit, ochre lit—off on—on off—

Probative work, where the light opens on the edge of the rain.


Right foot down, left foot still in the air—where is the boundary?

Zu Fuß, still advancing still unraveling how many years the river has been flowing

Across the realigned fragments of territory.


Horse and bird, grass, food, and pearls all for transaction,

My little darkening flock has its day set aside in the Almanac Joie,

Badly printed on cheap paper—white, almost at the risk of transparency.


Exhausted by anticipation, I took out a knife,

A cutting board, and the remains of a ten day old loaf of bread.

I was going to make something for the birds.



April 5  [Notes for THE RAVINE]


Carried at the point of balance

Nullified by the weight of the book

The diagonal moon

Shapes touching the glass

Poison under the floor

The tiles one by one

All the expected places

With a 3 hour head start

Secrecy as a solution to the problem

A bowl full of nails

Curious beyond intimacy

Working in silence

No longer limited to extorting

The plain of the marginal

Horizontal relationships

In fragments


Surveillance and its spectators

Minimal equivalence attaining solution

Delivery not conversion

Particular controls

Isolations and system drift

Working forward of the light

Across the corners

Blunting the anticipation of the angle

Compelled by knots and waves

Steep acoustics

A duplicate direction without repeating

This next is the dead and this prime is the end

A reed and an oblong stone

Else unedited unelse read



April 10  Only at the solstice would they tell us what they believe they can leave behind; not as a justification but as a way of saying—adding that though now dissociated, all is meant to be found again in the same versions at a much later date; however, in quite different contexts and produced exactly as they had been 400 years ago, but whose original models had been hidden at least a further 300 hundred years prior.




To move about is to define


Things to do generating things to say

            generating things to be done


Convictions to be extricated and identified


As though the measured were no longer among the discarded

Or return confused with about to enter


Where were the words that left a certain smell on the hands

That made the ears sensitive and eased

The pressure on the eyes


Blank glass scrolls

Their scratches filled with ink


A music of smoke and anise

The stolen name fills an entire page


A compendium of assimilated errors

Rounded by calm


Decaying arabesques


Enumerations of a mongrel detachment








Copyright ©2006 by Ray DiPalma

Ray DiPalma is the author of numerous books of poetry and art, including Numbers and Tempers: Selected Early Poems, Raik, Provocations, The Jukebox of Memnon, Observatory Gardens. He lives in New York City, where he also teaches.