Poetry at Sangam



from LISTENING MACHINE by Genya Turovskaya

Admit the ghost, says the Listening Machine. Let the visitor in
to the baroque
                        interior, down the dark corridor,
                                         to your paradox of rooms.
Make space. At the table. The cradle. The bed.
In the dream there is always another room
                                   where none had been, a warren
                                                        of undiscovered rooms
in the once-familiar house, long sealed against
the drafts, the cold unsettling leakage
                                           of the world.
Arranging itself, rearranging itself. Shifting curiously.
Or terribly.
As the many-chambered heart.


I wrestled with an abstract geometry—because
                                    what is an angel—for a name
to stitch to the breast of my fatigues, to stick to my forehead’s
opaque tar, wrestled for the press of its celestial digits into
                                 the indistinct, featureless moon
                                                        of my skull.
If there is no one to name you,
                     name yourself, says the Listening Machine.


Move toward or away
from me, says the Listening Machine.
The middle distance terrible to bear.


En pointe, says the Listening Machine.
                                                    We turn
and around
and around
on the pointed
toe of this thought, the pointed
                                 bloody toe
inside its blunt-nosed
                       rosy satin shoe.
How long?
How many revolutions?
What heat is generated by this centrifugal spin?
Who is the Maître de ballet?
Who tends the wounded?
How long before the vertigo sets in?


The first song I ever heard, says the Listening Machine,
was disguised as a love song
but wasn’t.
         It raked
through me, plucked the wires of my heart
with the hand of its sad, sooty, itinerant eros
      and estranged me from myself.
There was pleasure in it.
The straining music. The mind
        forcing its lyric noise
              through the narrow channels, the holes
of the body that maintains it.