The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2020

All Issues
APRIL 2020 Issue


Cognition Is Its Own Discard

Putting its weight
into action, into motion, first the days fade out,

then memory,
then memory’s prompts,

then we disappear
into the same fog.1

1 Check
Broken nib
of memory, there’ll be
no more signatures
with this pen.

What it means to ask
what it means

is what it means
to ask

what it means. Thought,
a wind

that disturbs pooled days;
all facts

are disputed,
their position

is unfixed, liable to change
of color, status,

attachment to belief.
I’m destitute

of spontaneity, yielding
to the will of others

the fact
of having lived,

tumbling into a crack
of memory, like a key

dropped in confusion
through a grate.

If it gleams,
you can be sure

it wasn’t lost that long ago.
Gleaming or dull,

it’s scarcely worth
the effort of being found


Stretching a point
into a line,

the seed cannot divulge
its cause, only result;

it makes a mystery of that creation
to which it draws our attention.

How does a model
amplify a method?

A method, its concept?
Like pulling a door open

against wind. Like points
becoming a line, or lines a plane;

planes, a solid:
things grow

most surprisingly
in participation.

All form is organic, even time
is creaturely.
Active connections

by experience

stabilize, while weak ones disappear.
In observance of the light

the night is closed
for maintenance


by sun

smearing color

The depth is not great
but lungs will collapse

reaching it an axle
will snap

getting across The piles
of snow

sink into themselves

the dip.


A meaning so full it can only be lifted when a little is poured off.

  To sleep, perchance to grieve.

The way one fumbles with an unfamiliar lock,
  switching between the keys. The way one feels
with an unfamiliar key, seeking a proper fit.

Putting a little pressure on the teeth.

  Tongue of metal, a smile of bone.

What calls them back is not their name,
  or anything we want of them
In fact, they don’t come back.

Out of the freshly laundered
  pockets of time

came a wad of paper bearing
  irretrievable information.1

1 The piece of paper
    slipped from my grasp, and grasping

    slipped from consciousness;
    and it all continued within me, dead to the worlda

    a A steep path
     where every step

     met with a root
     that maddened the feet.

I call this waking up.


Benjamin Friedlander

Benjamin Friedlander is the author of One Hundred Etudes (Edge Books) and Citizen Cain (Salt Press). He lives in Maine, where he teaches American Literature and edits the scholarly journal Paideuma. His editorial work also includes work by Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, and Larry Eigner.


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2020

All Issues