National Poetry Month: Excerpt from “Joie De Vivre” by Lisa Jarnot

from Joie De Vivre


Against the sun. a dream of source against the sun. willed against untitled. it is only a dream of the lawn. blowing against the source of the sun. due east. a dream against the source of the sun in the dream due east. count meticules. find. find visible. find dream of the sun it is only. in going to the median. meridian source the sun goes means. meridian dreams of means. find. find visible. find means. find dream due east. find means of. if. in find the means go east the median source of dream support in east due means supports the sun in find in visible in in click. in dreams of. it is only. going. in the. in find. after. of. is. only. going. in the. due east. of of of.


and at noon I will fall in love
and nothing will have meaning
except for the brownness of
the sky, and tradition, and water
and in the water off the railway
in New Haven all the lights
go on across the sun, and for
millennia those who kiss fall into
hospitals, riding trains, wearing
black shoes, pursued by those
they love, the Chinese in the armies
with the shiny sound of Johnny Cash,
and in my plan to be myself
I became someone else with
soft lips and a secret life,
and I left, from an airport,
in tradition of the water
on the plains, until the train
started moving and yesterday
it seemed true that suddenly
inside of the newspaper
there was a powerline and
my heart stopped, and everything
leaned down from the sky to kill me
and now the cattails sing.


Because they ate the tomatoes. Because all of nature is obsessive
and bad. Because all of nature in this region is obsessive and bad.
Because the corn and the worm they are friends. Because the tree
and the roots and the worm are all bad. Because the root of the tree
is the friend of the corn in the field. Because the tree and the root
and the worm and the corn are all words. Because the words are
all friends with the worm and the friend of the tree. Because some
words they grew up. Because some words they grew up smarter.
Because some words they grew up smarter and smarter. Because
it’s time to cut the trees. Because they were tree-cutters. Because
they were hungry tree-cutters in a hurry. Because they were care-
less tree-cutters. Because the trees were cut by men not snakes.
Because the snakes all bit the trees and ate the cutters of the trees.
Because the cut up cutters cut the crops with snakes with the big
teeth. Because the trees all lived there too. Because the trees and
roots knew harmony. Because the burning cutters knew the trees
and hungered for the crops. Because the trees were tired. Because
the eaten burning trees were tired of the cutters, corn and snakes.

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joiedevivrecoverInspired by the Beats, Black Mountain, and the New York School, Lisa Jarnot emerged in the 1990s as one of the foremost poets of the post-Language avant-garde. Joie de Vivre draws on twenty years of work, from the bold fragmentation of her mixed media debut, Some Other Kind of Mission, to the experimental lyricism of her recent Night Scenes. Following the poet’s evolution through her engagements with form and music, Joie de Vivreshowcases Jarnot’s restless virtuosity and relentless curiosity. The archaic, the surreal, the pastoral, the political—no register of language proves too recalcitrant for her expansive sense of song.


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