At Night the States

By Alice Notley b. 1945 Alice Notley
At night the states
I forget them or I wish I was there
          in that one under the
Stars. It smells like June in this night
          so sweet like air.
I may have decided that the
          States are not that tired
Or I have thought so. I have
          thought that.

At night the states
And the world not that tired
          of everyone
Maybe. Honey, I think that to
          say is in
light. Or whoever. We will
          never
replace you. We will never re-
          place You. But
in like a dream the floor is no   
          longer discursive
To me it doesn’t please me by
          being the vistas out my
window, do you know what
          Of course (not) I mean?
I have no dreams of wake-
          fulness. In
wakefulness. And so to begin.
          (my love.)

At night the states
talk. My initial continuing contr-
          diction
my love for you & that for me
deep down in the Purple Plant the oldest
          dust
of it is sweetest but states no longer
          how I
would feel. Shirt
that shirt has been in your arms
          And I have
that shirt is how I feel

At night the states
will you continue in this as-
          sociation of
matters, my Dearest? down
          the street from
where the public plaque reminds
          that of private
loving the consequential chain
          trail is
matters

At night the states
that it doesn’t matter that I don’t
          say them, remember
them at the end of this claustro-
          phobic the
dance, I wish I could see I wish
          I could
dance her. At this night the states
          say them
out there. That I am, am them
          indefinitely so and
so wishful passive historic fated
          and matter-
simple, matter-simple, an
          eyeful. I wish
but I don’t and little melody.
          Sorry that these
little things don’t happen any
          more. The states
have drained their magicks
          for I have not
seen them. Best not to tell. But
          you
you would always remain, I   
          trust, as I will
always be alone.

At night the states
whistle. Anyone can live. I
can. I am not doing any-
          thing doing this. I
discover I love as I figure. Wed-
          nesday
I wanted to say something in
          particular. I have been
where. I have seen it. The God
          can. The people
do some more.

At night the states
I let go of, have let, don’t
          let
Some, and some, in Florida, doing.
          What takes you so
long? I am still with you in that
          part of the
park, and vice will continue, but
          I’ll have
a cleaning Maine. Who loses
          these names
loses. I can’t bring it up yet,
          keeping my
opinions to herself. Everybody in
          any room is a
smuggler. I walked fiery and   
          talked in the
stars of the automatic weapons
          and partly for you
Which you. You know.
At night the states
have told it already. Have
          told it. I
know it. But more that they
          don’t know, I
know it too.

At night the states
whom I do stand before in
          judgment, I
think that they will find
          me fair, not
that they care in fact nor do
          I, right now
though indeed I am they and
          we say
that not that I’ve
          erred nor
lost my way though perhaps
          they did (did
they) and now he is dead
          but you
you are not. Yet I am this
          one, lost
again? lost & found by one-
          self
Who are you to dare sing to me?

At night the states
accompany me while I sit here
          or drums
there are always drums what for
          so I
won’t lose my way the name of
          a
personality, say, not California
          I am not
sad for you though I could be
          I remember
climbing up a hill under tall
          trees
getting home. I was
going to say that the air was
          fair (I was
always saying something like
          that) but
that’s not it now, and that
          that’s not it
isn’t it either

At night the states
dare sing to me they who seem
          tawdry
any more I’ve not thought I
          loved them, only
you it’s you whom I love
the states are not good to me as
          I am to them
though perhaps I am not
when I think of your being
          so beautiful

but is that your beauty
          or could it be
theirs I’m having such a
          hard time remembering
any of their names
your being beautiful belongs
          to nothing
I don’t believe they should
          praise you
but I seem to believe they
          should
somehow let you go

At night the states
and when you go down to
          Washington
witness how perfectly anything
          in particular
sheets of thoughts what a waste
          of sheets at
night. I remember something
          about an
up-to-date theory of time. I
          have my
own white rose for I have
          done
something well but I’m not
          clear
what it is. Weathered, perhaps
          but that’s
never done. What’s done is
          perfection.

At night the states
ride the train to Baltimore
we will try to acknowledge what was
but that’s not the real mirror
          is it? nor
is it empty, or only my eyes
          are
Ride the car home from Washington
          no
they are not. Ride the subway
          home from
Pennsylvania Station. The states
          are blind eyes
stony smooth shut in moon-
          light. My
French is the shape of this
          book
that means I.

At night the states
the 14 pieces. I couldn’t just
walk on by. Why
aren’t they beautiful enough
in a way that does not
          beg to wring
something from a dry (wet)
          something
Call my name

At night the states
making life, not explaining anything
but all the popular songs say call
          my name
oh call my name, and if I call
          it out myself to
you, call mine out instead as our
          poets do
will you still walk on by? I
          have
loved you for so long. You
          died
and on the wind they sang
          your name to me
but you said nothing. Yet you
          said once before
and there it is, there, but it is
          so still.
Oh being alone I call out my
          name
and once you did and do still in
          a way
you do call out your name
to these states whose way is to walk
on by that’s why I write too much

At night the states
whoever you love that’s who you
          love
the difference between chaos and
          star I believe and
in that difference they believed
          in some
funny way but that wasn’t
          what I
I believed that out of this
          fatigue would be
born a light, what is fatigue
there is a man whose face
          changes continually
but I will never, something
          I will
never with regard to it or
          never regard
I will regard yours tomorrow
I will wear purple will I
and call my name

At night the states
you who are alive, you who are dead
when I love you alone all night and
          that is what I do
until I could never write from your
          being enough
I don’t want that trick of making
          it be coaxed from
the words not tonight I want it
          coaxed from
myself but being not that. But I’d
          feel more
comfortable about it being words
          if it
were if that’s what it were for these
          are the
States where what words are true
          are words
Not myself. Montana, Illinois.
          Escondido.

Alice Notley, “At Night the States” from A Grave of Light © 2006 by Alice Notley and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: A Grave of Light (Wesleyan University Press, 2006)

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Poet Alice Notley b. 1945

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Poetry & Poets

 Alice  Notley

Biography

Alice Notley was born in Arizona and grew up in Needles, California. After earning her BA from Barnard College and MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Notley traveled extensively around the US and abroad. In 1972 she married the poet Ted Berrigan and had two sons with him, the poets Anselm and Edmund Berrigan. Active in the New York poetry scene of the 1960s and ‘70s, Notley is often identified with the so-called Second . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Poetry & Poets

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

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