Bob Heman

 

Bob Heman

Bob Heman, NYC, photo © 2009 by Su Polo

 

(USA)

 

 

 

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Listens for something he calls music, but it is only the wind, the birds, the breakers.  When it is given these names it is no longer recognized.

 

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The music a different kind of ritual.  The song a way of rearranging their memories.  They are part of a system that allows the music to repeat.  Each man who enters is filled with a different set of notes.  Some floors require that another song be sung.

 

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Builds a house out of music where the bears can gather.  Builds a woman from the songs they all know.  Allows the distance to approach while they are singing.  Allows the night to resemble a silence.

 

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The song the bears sang broke the glass.  There was snow where the notes ended, and a machine that could transform even simple sounds.  What the others heard were trees growing, or waves crushing the beach.

 

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They inhabited the songs that were left over.  They inhabited the songs the bears sang.  They inhabited the songs that held up the horizon.  They inhabited the songs the children remembered.  They inhabited the songs that were created by the machine.

 

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We are put inside a room with the bears.  We are given words to recite and a song to sing.  The toys we wind up do unusual things.

 

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He thinks his body is repeated each time the music begins.

 

 

 

RECESSIONAL

 

Relax down into the tensions.  Count the numbers again.  This time slowly.  After the death comes decay.  The electrons are always in motion.  When the hand stops.  When the breath stops.  When the light stops.  When the chorus in the inner ear hums down for the final time.  And you feel like singing.  An old stray melody you’ve always known.

Flute

How It All Began

 

 

 

MUSIC

 

the lady flies by and sets firm her eyes

the butcher and baker and lord of the sky

all seek her for desperate maneuvers

they think she will last for the morning

they know she is past all warning and grief

she’s the thief who was baked in a pie

the lie that began on the lips of a child

and ended the evening in mourning

she’s the last of her kind the final surprise

the death of a singular dawning

she’s the flash in the pan by the door

the hush that explodes without warning

she’s glad that she’s poor and stands by the door

she’s the window that opens on death

she thinks it’s her breath that’s applauding

 

Telephone

Something Snaps Its Fingers

Shadow of the Geode

 

 

 

MUSIC

 

This was the song the sailors sang.  Three hands on the blood red sun.  This was the song the maidens sang.  The shadows cast by the heavy air.  This was the song the children sang.  Four fires inside of a single man.  This was the song the ancients sang.  The fat birds captured by the fox.  This was the song the farmer sang.  The cave was filled with hungry ice.  This was the song the teacher sang.  The mushroom rings were closing now.  This was the song the artist sang.  A woman’s outline on the floor.  This was the song the rabbit sang.  The thread led everywhere.

 

Antenym

Demographics, or, the Hats They Are Allowed to Wear

 

 

 

 [three poems that are sung or intoned at readings]

 

 

 

SUNDAY BLUES 

 

where ya goin’ pretty mama

dressed up like a circus day

where ya goin’ pretty mama

dressed up like a circus day

walkin’ by outside my window

when i’m trying to pray

 

you know i pray to all the gods above

and to the devils down below

oh you know i pray to all the gods above

and to the devils down below

you know i just gotta pray to that pretty lady

walkin’ by outside my door

 

don’t you know it’s hard to pray this morning

don’t you know it’s hard to pray today

don’t you know it’s hard to pray this morning

don’t you know it’s hard to pray today

just can’t think of nothin’ else i want

when you go walkin’ by that way

 

2010 Brownstone Anthology

 

 

 

SONG

 

she ran through the snow drifts whiter than ever

she ran through the hills caught by a dove

she ran through the valley and down in the forest

the little men saw her fall from above

 

she ran by the seaside she ran on the water

she ran through the room all painted in red

she ran on the clouds and into the sunshine

the little men thought she was dead

 

the little men sighed and returned to their weaving

the little men sighed and returned to their dreams

the little men sighed and returned to their alehouse

nothing is ever quite as it seems

 

she ran with the lions she ran with the tigers

she ran with the mare that ran through her head

she ran with the man who wore green colored britches

the man who took her to bed

 

and the little men sighed and returned to their weaving

the little men sighed and returned to their dreams

the little men sighed and returned to their alehouse

nothing is ever quite as it seems

 

Incurve Press Broadside

 

 

 

AWAKENING

 

emerged from a sandy womb

he picked the clouds like hanging grapes

 

his touch was mucus death

drowning them upon their breaths

like oysters swallowing the moon

 

stillborn babies coughed his name

he spun them shrouds from cotton clouds

that pressed upon his feet

 

he walked in cloudburst breathed in ozone

learned pumpkin wisdoms from the rain

his voice grew thunder muttering breezes

his name grew pain

 

red he was and green and prickly grey

grown crumbling around the edges

his death was juicy and mud-brown

 

he walked away in silence and became the sky

 

he walked away in silence and became the sky

 

he walked away in silence and became the sky

 

Clown War

 

 

 

ROAD

 

He sings to keep the forest back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BOB HEMAN’s poems have been published recently, or are upcoming, in Sentence, Otoliths, Caliban online, Skidrow Penthouse, Ambush Review, House Organ, NOON: journal of the short poem, Indefinite Space, First Literary Review-East, and Upstairs at Duroc.  He has edited CLWN WR (formerly Clown War) since the early 1970s.

 

 

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Links to performances:

 

 

Archival footage shows Bob Heman reading on the cable show “Public Access Poetry?” in May 1978.

 

http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/PAP-2.php

 

[scroll down to the show broadcast on May 8, 1978]

 

 

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the Thin Air Video interview

 

 

 

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performing “Sunday Blues” at Blue Mountain Gallery (2009)

 

 

 

Links to collections:

 

 

How It All Began  (2007)

 

http://www.quale.com/How_BH.html

 

 

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Demographics, or, the Hats They Are Allowed to Wear  (2009)

 

http://www.quale.com/Demographics_BH.html

 

 

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Cone Investigates  (2007, 2009)

 

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