Stan Rogal

Ou Li Po Evokes [the spirit of] John Cage

been consigned to an interval of silence
the orange bush is in bloom
the peacocks are lost in meditation
            (what begins the necrophilic emergency)

yet, every word is a pilot, & an image is
a stop the mind makes between uncertainties
indeterminacy gives promise to surface
             (the single reason for a window is to leap

must allow a space for a theme to play
a sound mix of cold turkey & hot jazz
catching a slippering glimpse of afterness
           (the power of the visible is the invisible)

heed the words of the dying motorcyclist
hitchhike to Galveston, sail to Le Havre, train to Paris
it doubles its lips & slips into something more comfortable
          (prepared piano, say, rigged to lend an ear)


Ou Li Po Constructs a Poem

what are all those words doing, uprising
all around me : all around : they smart
whiplash-sharp at the tips 

hard-pressed to eliminate the upper case
AKA: The Centre for Peaceful Atomic Research
(where chaos begins classical science stops) 

a life squared-off w/dragons is no less
rats feed on my most delicate parts
murmurs, moans & laments slip their cuffs 

when we speak of language we must
peak of the whirred world ¾
(‘the ampersand sign’ is: ‘met reshaping ands’) 

so, the artist of abundancies delights in
interlocking & separating figures (even as)
the poem’s threatened extinction goes largely


The Ballad of Ou Li Po

rainy afternoon
with fog & sparrows, dreams strict
as definition
for whatever sounds
(somewhere beyond that rainbow)
how that happen, huh?
I mean, how include
those fat mountains, the zigzag
of starlings in the
sprung sky? the poem
— no longer self-sufficient —
lacks a frame, it is
a slippering glimpse
only, where wholly on the
drunk river has me
beat four beats to the
bar (jazz ever been a joint of
split lips & spilt beer
a snatch of phrasing
melody & percussion
neon flash & click
shift of note to tone
modulation & syncopation
a-train in background) 

[must learn to edit
            using scissors, safety pins
            needle & fishing
            line (time’s function in music
            is undertow : note
            is tone : is an anagram)]

as what makes the eddy pool
complex at the mouth
is a pun : or else something
left unsaid ¾ a word,
say ¾ or a book, left, maybe,
carelessly open, the phone,
as well, left off the
hook, or perhaps disguised in
beards, moustaches, masks,
fright wigs, false noses, clown shoes
creeps out this petty 
pace to the last syllable 

“out, out, brief candle”

¾ I mean, nobody
knew where I was & now I
am no longer (t)here ¾ 

(who always had a
            lover, a railway pass or
            a revolution) 

paper poems fold
            to ships cast adrift across
                        the burning water


Stan Rogal: I live and write in Toronto. Work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies in Canada, the US and Europe. The author of 26 books: 7 novels, 7 story and 12 poetry, plus several chapbooks. An MA English from York U, I worked at UofT with health/medicine students and professionals teaching communication skills. I also ran the popular Idler Pub Reading Series for ten years, back when life was far more social and less fraught with danger.