Pierre Joris Meditations on the Stations of Mansur Al-Hallaj (selection)

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Each Station its own gift:
one part graspable,
the other not.

Next the exile entered
& crossed the desert.
He embraced it & stood under
the whole of it.

He found nothing familiar
or useful there, neither on
the mountain nor on the plain.

1. manners (adab)

what is the manner
I mean the matter

with you standing
there in the desert?

Take your hands
out of your pockets

the desert has no manners
but many pockets

which is no excuse for your
lack of know-how

when it comes to sharing
this last pinch of

hot sand & mica
hides as lint

in the pockets
of your heart

2. awe (rahab)

the awe is in gawking
when you see it

it scares you
where it’s the unseen

you seem to want to care
for even though

it scars you to face the
awe that is not

in the thing or the it
but between the two

it’s the relation a
we can be

9. probity (nazah)

Lament its absence
among those who govern.

16. witnessing (shuhud)


no, I don’t want to.
it is all you can do.

who are you to tell
me what I did. you

saw nothing. you
were not there. I

was. He or she are
the necessary third

let them tell me or
you what the all is

you or me did do.
no one witnesses.


so, you don’t want to.
it is all I can do.

who am I to tell
you what I did. You heard

nothing. my eyes
were closed, you

saw nothing either I
was not there or you

were and what if so I
closed my ears.

Why should you want to.
You heard nothing.

I saw it all. He or
she are the necessary

third party, she said
now I’ve heard it all.

23. isolation (infirad)

I’m infuriated
by isolation

but it is the only I
there is under

the sun its wheel
rolls out of

infrared ultra
violent blue

of sun’s stroke
post isolation a

post to stand
there on a corner

of the desert this
life wants to

make of
us all

unfinished by

an I in
iso elation

plays with itself
hands in pockets

it stands, not
yet endangered

species, endangering
isolato Americano

on the corner
of any desert-

ed street between
here & here

the pocket billiards
of empire: an isolation

34. patience (tasabbur)

whose patience? the mother's
immense, eternal

patience for her child,
an absolute of species, it is

life-long (her
life's length, that is)

or the child's frayed
patience with the aging

parent — the mother already
beyond time, out of time,

time-lessness of forgetting
alzheimer's folly

I forget I forget she says
be patient with me, child

even as I am impatient with
my own memory, mother

says I hear does she
hear what

she says what I say
the distance of impatience

with her now who am I
to tell her.

"This is fatal, the disease
is called Remember"                                                         [RK "The Death Goliath"

38. observation (ri’aya)

What do I observe
as I stand here
eyes open
hands deep
in pockets?

the things out there
the happening things
as time and space collide
or is time & space

Or do I observe
the rules of
of those collisions?

Is observation
If I see a riot
do I join or
the rules of engagement
that invariably
tell me to stay apart.

Will I stay my
hand, and only make

I am full of questions
this morning
as I try to observe
the rules of composition
declaring themselves
under hand.

Yes. I have taken
my hands out of
my pockets now,

as you can plainly
observe, see me
writing here

and now. Follow
as fast as I can
the word form

somewhere I cannot
see. I have waited
a second

too long. Now a
ksar like
a baseball field

after a nuclear
engagement obstructs
the screen.

I no longer stand
in the desert
but in front of it

fixed on this screen
I observe pixellated
dunes and don’t notice

how the writing under hand
folds itself
into triplicate stanzas.

The poems published here are from Meditations on the Stations of Mansur Al-Hallaj, the complete collection to be released in 2011 by Chax Press (www.chax.org).
This material is © Pierre Joris
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