a Perimeter 4

Nathaniel Mackey

Song of the Andoumboulou: 152


    –so's parametric dispatch–

  Time caught, time bought in abeyance.
    Hypothetic flight from what was to
come. Was it a bird or a large butterfly
    one could say, dust from its wings in
      our throats ever after, time bought
  time caught the same… So said Itamar
      ing a jacket of patches, tattered garb it
  was his to advertise. He'd lain looking
    up Ahdja's nostrils he'd said in so many
words, lost world he lay flat on his back
      lashed at by looking back but no mat-
  ter, Ahdja's dark nostrils' dilation, lost
    in recollection again… Time was it was
  erwise or it might've been, bird and butter-
      fly both if not one or the other he'd heard,
    said to've been said or truly so of late, the
        of it dark dilation, Ahdja's furrow, fret…
    So it was or so it seemed and so we saw,
      made to see, Itamar's auditors all, all ears
  seemed. Itamar danced on a dead leg Legba-
      like but wasn't, would-be flight from what
    was. So it was we learned of dark dilation,
      dja's nether name Eleanoir. The book of
        Eleanoir we called it, book of the two-in-one
    she'd be… So-it-was was the book's refrain,
      gone consequence, currency we bought time
        with. So-it-was's ricochet shook us, released
  albeit we'd be, close accommodation's comple-
    ment, verity's boon or bequest. So-it-was got up
  walked… So-it-was meant we were back in The
    Book of So
Itamar surmised, Eleanoir's book
a book within a book, shade-late second thought
    ging the book, so's book self-audit, sough. All
of which was to say Richard Holmes was on the
  box, dark dilation's deep groove gainsaid or not,
      box's book of self-disguise, all stops let out…
  So it was with shade-late Eleanoir. She was the
    book of so's index, late of so's index, Itamar's
muse and remit. He went back to trying to think
    bout time, back to was it bird wing, butterfly
      wing or both, undulant, corpuscular, Eleanoir
  who if not him… Yes, we said, we could see
      was no one if not he himself, humored him
  we thought but it was true. Wingdust and bitter-
    sweet dirt were one for all time, him and her
whom we said the same… We ate shortbread for
    breakfast, Ned and all the rest of us, Richard
  Groove sirening on. Any book of say a book of
    we'd see eventually, say whatever, say we'd go
  singing, go out sing-


We stayed at a castle in Edinburgh we dreamt.
    A thick mist clung to the hillside it sat on.
  Heaven fell out of the sky… Heaven found in
    face fallen out of the blue the way we heard
it, never not the work of whatsay, never not
  emboldened by so… We ate biscotti once we
    out of shortbread, bolt upright off the ground
        we were dreaming on, a sidewalk in Bologna
      quick as a wink… So it was we rayed out from
    culars we proselytized, lost a certain sadness it
      seemed. Lost or relived it, uplifted either
  way, that one dovetailed into the other, each
    other, what lay between immeas-



Everything pressed in close, Abidjan and
    Edinburgh, Spain and New South Wales,
  everywhere made a shadow, dogged and
out, dogged by all the elsewhere there was…
    So it was it was less a band than a book
  we were in, eked-out sound its element,
    come sonority's bluff. My body filled me
      with dread but I had this other one,
said, neither a bird's wing nor a butterfly's
   but buffed I meant to say, polish it as I
night and day…
Everywhere pressed in,
    Raleigh and Santa Barbara, Recife and
  Matanzas, santería horses on the beach
      Lone Coast, the one water's one long
  shore. Horses' hoofs walked on water,
    cante dulce floating out across the water,
Yemaya's deepening salt. We who in the
    would bet on sweetness tasted it, up to
  our lips in froth… Horses tripped over their
    hoofs but got back up, syncope so lustrous
it lifted them, trot their true lord it seemed.
      cope so sumptuous it said or would also
  say, not so much the book as what we made of
    it, made it say, book the other body we'd
sport. We wanted back in, our bodies back, no
    ter… People of the bodily book we'd have
been, people of the book's drawn chalice, people
  of the book's thrown spear, not a bird's or a
      terfly's wings or both, dust in our throats
  even more. Itamar's jacket of patches flew high
    but only chided us, time's wished-for climb
  rags would


    I wanted to slide back and be choric, one
      tongue plied atop another, second thought's
third, fourth, fifth, ad infinitum, the all-of-
  it we'd all add up to be… So sounded the
      nal each book of so turned out to be, well
  to whose deep reach voice would accrue, said
    to've been said to've been said without end,
      so made at say's dictate, gouged-earth embou-
    chure's colloquy, gouged-earth embouchure's

Nathaniel Mackey is the author of six books of poetry, the most recent of which is Blue Fasa (New Directions, 2015); an ongoing prose work, From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate, whose fifth volume, Late Arcade, is forthcoming from New Directions in 2017; and two books of criticism, the most recent of which is Paracritical Hinge: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews (University of Wisconsin Press, 2005). Strick: Song of the Andoumboulou 16-25, a compact disc recording of poems read with musical accompaniment (Royal Hartigan, percussion; Hafez Modirzadeh, reeds and flutes), was released in 1995 by Spoken Engine Company. He is the editor of the literary magazine Hambone and coeditor, with Art Lange, of the anthology Moment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose (Coffee House Press, 1993). His awards and honors include the National Book Award for poetry, the Stephen Henderson Award from the African American Literature and Culture Society, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation and the Bollingen Prize for American Poetry. He is the Reynolds Price Professor of English at Duke University.