Autobiography

By Michael Palmer b. 1943 Michael Palmer
All clocks are clouds.

Parts are greater than the whole.

A philosopher is starving in a rooming house, while it rains outside.

He regards the self as just another sign.

Winter roses are invisible.

Late ice sometimes sings.


A and Not-A are the same.

My dog does not know me.

Violins, like dreams, are suspect.

I come from Kolophon, or perhaps some small island.

The strait has frozen, and people are walking—a few skating—across it.

On the crescent beach, a drowned deer.


A woman with one hand, her thighs around your neck.

The world is all that is displaced.

Apples in a stall at the streetcorner by the Bahnhof, pale yellow to blackish red.

Memory does not speak.

Shortness of breath, accompanied by tinnitus.

The poet’s stutter and the philosopher’s.


The self is assigned to others.

A room for which, at all times, the moon remains visible.

Leningrad cafe: a man missing the left side of his face.

Disappearance of the sun from the sky above Odessa.

True description of that sun.

A philosopher lies in a doorway, discussing the theory of colors


with himself

the theory of self with himself, the concept of number, eternal return, the sidereal pulse

logic of types, Buridan sentences, the lekton.

Why now that smoke off the lake?

Word and things are the same.

Many times white ravens have I seen.


That all planes are infinite, by extension.

She asks, Is there a map of these gates?

She asks, Is this one called Passages, or is that one to the west?

Thus released, the dark angels converse with the angels of light.

They are not angels.

Something else.


                                                                                        for Poul Borum

Michael Palmer, "Autobiography" from At Passages. Copyright © 1995 by Michael Palmer.  Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: At Passages (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1995)

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Poet Michael Palmer b. 1943

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Living, Health & Illness, Death, Relationships, Men & Women, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Poetry & Poets, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Weather, Language & Linguistics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Michael Palmer was born in New York City and educated at Harvard in the early 1960s, where he encountered Confessional poetry. His opposition to Confessionalism found root in a developing poetics when he attended the landmark 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference, a three-week gathering where he met Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, and Clark Coolidge. Correspondence with those three poets greatly influenced Palmer’s early development . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Health & Illness, Death, Relationships, Men & Women, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Poetry & Poets, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Weather, Language & Linguistics

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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