Monday Dec 11

BrowneLaynie Laynie Browne is the author of nine collections of poetry and one novel. Her most recent publications include: Roseate, Points of Gold (Dusie, 2011), The Desires of Letters, The Scented Fox, and Daily Sonnets. Her honors include: the National Poetry Series Award, the Contemporary Poetry Series Award, and two Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative American Poetry.  Currently she edits for Trickhouse and is co-editing the anthology with Caroline Bergvall, Teresa Carmody and Vanessa Place, I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women (Les Figues, forthcoming, 2011).  She has taught creative writing at The University of Washington- Bothell, at Mills College in Oakland, at Naropa University, and at the University of Arizona, where she teaches creative writing and coordinates an interdisciplinary writers-in-the-schools program.
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32
 

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away


you envelop me
 

 

After death animus hovered around the body
 
An owl climbed outside one’s  form
 
Quintessence— in a great treasure-house, or cage, a columbarium
 
May only move through human frames
 
In the fourth heaven— a lake of birds— continually praise
 
Saints affirm  ardor in the shape of doves
 
Causal birds in the Acherusian lake were consulted
 
As  advisors  upon  creation of humanity
 


41
 


You have supported me and you set me before you
 
 


Sparrow and  swallow rise upon the walls
 
Sing whereupon they are ushered
 
Into hidden passage— or nest
 
Adorned with crowns
 
They prepare a sanctuary of the future


 
42


 
Deep calls to deep
to the commotion of your canals
all your billows and your waves
have  gone over me
 

 
No act was undertaken

without advice of
 

augury, prophesying
 

by flight of birds
 
 
Open a window
 

Chaldeans, Greeks, Romans
 

that the soul may
 

augur = avi-gur, οἰωνὸς, οἰωνισταί
sing, whisper
 
 

"for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings           shall tell the matter."
 
wing away
 


59
 
You have been my stronghold
and a refuge in the day of my distress
 




Divination by means of weasels, fowls, and stars,


Who is an enchanter?


He, for instance, who says:


My bread fell out of my mouth


My staff out of my hand

 


Divine by behavior of the fish


Snake and cloud omens


An owl alighted on the tree against


Which you now lean

 


Who speaks the language of  flight?
 


Do not advise, even in whisper


birds carry a voice onward

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note:  Numbers for poems and text at the beginning of each poem in italics are taken from psalms (various translations).  These particular psalms, often identified as Nachman’s healing psalms” were chosen by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810, Ukraine) and are traditionally read during mourning.  This practice exemplifies Nachmans’ use of sacred texts as meditative tools, and highlights his religious philosophy which revolves around intimacy and direct conversation with divine.