Untitled Document


Michael J. Stern
University of Oregon

Michael Stern is an Associate Professor in the Department of German and Scandinavian at the University of Oregon. He is the author of Nietzsche’s Ocean, Strindberg’s Open Sea and various articles on literature, film, and philosophy. He is currently finishing up a monograph entitled The Singing Socrates, and has begun a project called Conversations with African Philosophers.


+ (hat in the ring)

the penthouse   the escalator he rode down
from a gilded nutshell that enclosed him.

unlike hamlet he was never visited by nightmares
his ambitions never narrowed. 

he imagined himself king of infinite space but lacked
genius for hesitation     any sense for the question.

a sinister cartoon    he wore a dark suit   a bright tie and a mask of flashbulbs.
thrasymachus of sorts   rich   unbound    shouting down the experts.

now enclosed in the nutshell with him     we descend into our own bad dreams.


++ (running backwards)

the truth of the matter will not come out     it will not be said
will not remain   it will not be held     born as it was from our promise in ashes.

it pools inside a rhythm   a fluctuation   of mutual unfolding  of shared enclosure
sun sinking below the joint of sky and sea as daylight recedes

as dilate eyes greet dusking light     shapes move within the darkened fold
a common promise      we tear blindly at our own garment.

born as we were from a bleeding    the children of a primal violence    destined
to be belated   to take measure again and again    to a pregnancy without term.

having arrived late to our own inception      we stumbled .


+++ (his ascension)

somewhere between a shadow and a thicket we fall.
tripping like silent children of a tumble and a tremble.

when we rise to speak again awakened      there will be
slow viscous rising   like smoke rings waxing   thinning and stretching   

somehow still     yet somehow somewhere else.  for these days too
pass     they  already recede towards another horizon  

another joint fusing open sky to open sea.   when we arrive
angel of history  will be waiting     wondering how we could

in this time of trumpestilence ever think we have the right to forget.


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