Thursday, March 21, 2019


By Jake Marmer

“...the intelligentsia had accepted the Tohu-Bohus as legitimate music. Their jarring rhythms tumbled across the lawn. A light sculpture in the corner twisted, flickered, grew with the tones.”
- Samuel Delany, “NOVA”

it’s music because we agree that it is:
invisible horn vomiting black light –
inside this flare-book,
nature’s quantifiable coincidence,
fermented nerve, singed atavism –

singed sound paints
your portrait
on psychoacoustic cellophane, wraps
it around something small, something vile

bending the string, purple fingers rise
far above guitar’s ringed neck –
above the bruised mouth
and its stratosphere

a pile of near-voices walking
from harm to harmony
try to summon a black hole
try to stumble into one
burnt eyes looking for triggers –
(Tohu-Bohus signature move)

black hole dream: to inhale light so hard
your vision turns molecular tasseology
black hole dream: to drain semantics, thread-suns
so the poem could congeal

– accretion of dissonance, complete and elegant –
and because it is
purple fingers gather
so much paraphrase
that there’s no doubt, no doubt left
about the – beginnings –

heaven is a swamp your voice
is sinking in, and this
swamp groove is the song of its mangled footprints

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Jake Marmer is a poet, performer, and a high school teacher. He is the author of three poetry collections: "Jazz Talmud" (Sheep Meadow Press, 2012), "The Neighbor Out of Sound" (Sheep Meadow Press, 2018), and "Cosmic Diaspora" (Station Hill Press, forthcoming 2019). Born in the wild Ukrainian steppes, Jake considers himself a New Yorker, even though he now lives in the Bay Area.


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