Poetry: Elizabeth Block

Illness of the Text

The shadows,

only of trees. The flourishing wind in obeisance made the wall, on, for, and darkened moment in the pool, which reflected and suspected light itself. Birds, or flying a made spot soft, slowly flutter, across floor bedroom of night dreams fumbling— mumble of what—left their heads across the way.

To the going, light, what but does one send?
Alone, green-gray, faltering the house, light the wall on opposite. The places empty. Were such parts of the somehow, fan.

But them together, bring.

She wants to whirl
                                                                                                    out of nowhere

                                                                                                    she gets up, it is dark.

The buzzing of the little head she thought she knew,
she thought maybe it was another day not to begin, but to sing,
she wanted it out of her mouth, the taste waiting into the, who is it that calls her

perhaps nobody can tell you about the dizzy dance; she moves through layers of noise, what kind of noise, we don’t know yet, the person bad that her took away is not now dead, but in her head, she tells that one is out of sight,

                                                                                                    now mind out of too.

It-was-it tentative, gradual, one as goes a shelving down beach sea into deepening, with and knowledge lying dangers of—that path? For the lozenges, often-times pulmonary relief, efficacy on affectations, opium within contained, disavowing clamorously an alliance, suspicious.

Back to the ultraviolet burst, the lighthouse retrieved, centrifuge
a tittle.


This poem emerges from an in-progress poetry manuscript, Celluloid Salutations. The mourning of celluloid filmmaking is a mourning of dyslexia of a special type. Dyslexia is always distinctive and kind. Everything from loading the camera, to getting lost in the editing room and remaking the image so it doesn’t project inside out or upside down is a process of undoing the actual filming that created it. As I was completing my novel, I started to distract myself by making 16mm films, and it was so neurologically difficult (not to mention technically), I began to think of it as an entire process as a beautiful “defect” that made “art” better. I wanted to make literary films, films about modernist text (not story, but sentence structure) that could have the same neurological or “getting stoned” effect.” So I read (yet again) and channeled (or un-channeled) Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Leslie Scalapino’s breast descant, and that sly Sir Thomas de Quincy. Is this possible? In my poem, these ghosts perhaps make the poem afflicted, or hysterical. I don’t work it to be well.


elizabeth blockElizabeth Block is the author of the award wining novel, A Gesture Through Time (Spuyten Duyvil), and many other short works in practically every genre and mixed genres—including in a Lannan Foundation funded publication. One Less Magazine and HOW2 have interviewed Elizabeth about her writing, publishing, filmmaking, and artistic process. Recently she published the new foreword to the re-release of the Confessions of St. Augustine (Signet Classics, Penguin Press). She is the recipient of a Doris Roberts/William Goyen national fiction fellowship from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation and many other awards and grants. Her work has appeared on KQED and several other public radio stations, it has been performed on stage, in public art bus shelters, and it has been used in film and experimental music. Elizabeth has spoken at the California Commonwealth Club, performed her writing across the United States (At City Lights Books, Elliot Bay Books, Shaman Drum Books, Discrete Reading Series, etc.). Elizabeth has screened her 16mm films extensively in the U.S. and in British Colombia, such as Anthology Film Archives, The Contemporary Museum of Art | Denver, The Harvard Film Archive, Antimatter Film Festival, and Athens International Film Festival, etc. Elizabeth’s second book, a book of poetry, Celluloid Salutations, is forthcoming on BlazeVOX. Illness of the Text, right here, is an excerpt that emerges from the book.