Skip to main content

Talisman Poems

By: Norman Fischer | 01/01/2000
In Topics: Writing / Art / Creativity

Poems to be published in talisman, a literary magazine edited by Ed Foster

The Unsayable

If I’m pent up long for unspeaking
My mind non-expression in my self-possession
Lost out there like an iceberg on a big white sea
Then so be it, these forceful contortions of unsound sound.
They are so self important.
They are so harsh.
Anyway, you don’t understand.
Take my word for this.

Pent up, on a roof someplace
Where you can see the imaginary city
Gleaming like meat in the distance
And taste a voice that is mumbling.
There where you live
It gets to you.

Finally where the music stops
And you are standing flatfooted with your hand lightly placed on the girl’s

But the attention wavers, the scene evaporates, melts away.
There are guns.
Do you call this poke full of people like a basket full of peaches
A world? For God’s sake there is the usual killing going on, icebergs.
I’m freezing so can’t go on with my job, butcher.
People have to eat.

I was born in 1941, in Germany, in the pure Aryan forest
Tended so well by the Count’s woodsman.
Twirling images flickering on the walls of the tent.
Taken for real.
There, I’ve told you what I needed to tell.
Now that you understand nothing (for there is nothing
To understand) I can go the next step up the ladder
I have been climbing all this time.

This is the silence I mentioned before.
In which we gaze at one another seeing clouds.
Early death, failure, bad food.
Haunted by voices, tortured nuances.

It means that since there are two of us
There is only one.
It means that air flows across a valley
Where there’s no echo, a land with no light and shadow, a rudderless boat.
It means recedes flows eastward
Always in at least three languages.
Your breathing heaves.
That’s how the world came to be.
You stamped it with your breath.
Like a coin.
So you could see it.

Where there’s bridge there’s dance.
In a cake movement lingers.
And the heart swells.
This is what I wanted to tell you
Though I am dead.
See the colored squares that are my face.
See the rats and flies that only seem monstrous
To the scientists and poets.
In death’s silence
The sentence comes to rest
All its words contained
In its dark and rounded

What I’d been trying to say all along
Finally indicated
Through the sort of music
You are hearing now, as you read these words
Written for you only exactly you
Long ago
When I was alive.

Watered the garden with rain, my own rain.
Colored the eggs.

Played a tune on my bassoon.
Reviewed the events of my imaginary life
Lived in a world a genie created
Full of ponds and mountain peaks.

Why is there emotion?
Is emotion an invention
Or is it a necessity,
By-product of being?
Or is it being.
The heart is beating long and long
Till death disturbs it.
Death is very emotional.
Being dead is emotional.

When I was young, old.
Perched here at the nexus, the matrix,
The re-ordered world’s finish line.
All a matter of gesture in the empty air.

Dear reader, surely you’ve anticipated these words.
Known long their hidden meanings.
Choose one or two or any part of one or two
To make your song, your dance.
In the talking air.

A Dozen Poems For Elena Rivera

A Want of Liberty

“thinking my life
I almost forgot
my liberty”

Whose Words

whose words
but my own
will save me from
the travesty
of freezing myself
into someone
anyone could locate
and murder?

The Alphabet

all undone
still, wrapped in scarves
battling the city
I heard those
robes of sound
the questions, my windows . . .


the most unhappy
identity sets us
at war a war no
images can depict


the real life absorbed
into the moment
one never sees nor knows
that’s neither money nor

Our Lives

social world
depicts disaster
to control
fallow soul


the subject wants
so falls prey
to world’s mass


to rearrange the ashes only
wear the robes that uncover that

A Strange Country

robed with words and incidents
which if true and unknown
raise a different question


painting the body
within a family
painting the evidence
together we’ve tried
fly away shamelessly


no use err is another


letters, not yet words
tear freedom loose
from rude wretched world