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About this Poem 

"The 'Mu' series of which this poem is a part rings changes on its title's various meanings and associations:  muthos (mouth, myth), music, muse, the emotional interjection mu, the lost continent of Mu said to have existed in the Pacific, etc.  Lately, as in this poem, a strong accent falls on its Japanese meanings, 'not,' 'non-,' 'nothing,' 'no,' and its place in the Zen tradition." —Nathaniel Mackey

Said to Have Been Heard to Say Hush

Nathaniel Mackey

—“mu” ninety-eighth part—


Remembered moment lamenting
  its exit, the anaphylactic aria
fell away. What beauty promised or
  we projected faded, we moved
                                          on,
  not’s province the place we
now camped in… The abandoned
  ones we averred we’d someday
                                          be
fell away as well. The abandoned
  girl and boy blended in… Thought’s
province it was we pitched our tents
                                             in.
Wind wrinkled our foreheads, thought
  not’s not someday… Not made every
eye water. In our heads more than ever,
                                                    syl-
  labic beads we thumbed, not’s dread
have-without-hold we bowed down to,
  cried Cry blood, fell back… There
was a box inside my head, something
                                               men-
  acing shook it, Joe Henderson’s tenor.
Not’s woken-up-to now we backed away
  from, Little Johnnie C, “Hobo Joe”…
                                                 In-
sistent, imposed itself, beside the point.
  All of it was orphan song we chimed in
on, chided by it, charmed even so. I saw
                                                    no
light but said otherwise, lit by the thought
  of it, not-light lytic, tear between said
and saw… Light stole away, some kind
                                                of
  spell I was under. At more removes
than there was ground for, I stole away
  as well, said to have been heard to
say hush. A tiptoe ghost octet fidgeted
                                               be-
  hind us. Not was another name for
   death I was afraid and afraid my feet
  would fail, Idiot Footless, feet I did
                                               in-
deed speak with, did indeed say hush…
  A little bit of nothing, anaphylactic
rush, seen-say gone so soon we were
                                               not’s
  understudies. Whatever it was we did,
no matter what we did, whatever we did we
  did away… No one heard footsteps, no
                                                   feet
  struck the dirt. Earth beset by see-thru
sleep, transparent footprint, sleepwalk’s
  his and hers an it club of late, the aban-
doned his and hers run come… In back
                                                of
  us the ghost octet kept at it, thread on
the box and on the backs of our necks,
  hair stood on the backs of our necks.
                                                Bal-
letic, they traipsed on tiptoe, shushed all
  who stood and looked on. The sense we
were being shadowed had hold of us, the
                                                   sense
  of being had we had… They were plotting
what it was to be footless, points on a graph
  the ground had become. What it meant to
                                                       be
a tiptoe ghost we could see now, shushed
  as we were, shadowed as we were, warned
we were better off away, beside the point,
  not’s null insistence, moot… All the same,
                                                       they
   doused us all in fish powder, a rite we were
                                                           none
  the wiser
for



        ____________________

        (slogan)

  I saw no way to be wise enough. Tonal
motion made me weep. I saw no way to
  stay where I was, be where I was, what-
ever it was I was moved on, moved over,
                                                     what-
   ever it was worried what I was… So it
    was green loomed outside my window,
 drawn light in Low Forest I was wise to,
  saw thru, aroused by light’s reluctance
                                                  but
  not to be caught out, no way could I be
                                                   wise
   enough I
  knew

Copyright © 2013 by Nathaniel Mackey. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on October 2, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Nathaniel Mackey

Nathaniel Mackey

Born in 1947 in Miami, Florida, poet and novelist Nathaniel Mackey was a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2001 to 2007.

by this poet

poem
"mu" fifth part —

  His they their
we, their he
 his was but if
need be one,
                    self-
  extinguishing
I, neither sham nor
 excuse yet an
alibi, exited, 
                  out, 
                         else
the only where
 he'd be. 

              Before
the long since
  remaindered
 
poem
  Next a Brazilian cut came
on Sophia picked. Paulinho's
 voice lit our way for what
    seemed eternity, 
                             minha
   primeira vez the one
                                phrase
  we caught or could understand,
    no matter it ended
soon as it'd begun
poem

-ring of the well-                        


Fray was the name where we came
to next. Might've been a place,
might not've been a place but
we were there, came to it
                                             sooner
than we could se... Come to