2 Poems for Cid Corman

by Jesse Glass

Cid Corman’s Gift

    It’s all poetry
    Everything you see is poetry
    When I’m writing a poem
    & Shizumi comes in the room and interrupts me....

    Some poets would get mad, but
    It’s all poetry
    When I’m writing a poem
    & a mosquito lands on my nose....

    It’s all poetry

    People have to understand
    That we’re in the midst of Nothing
    Nothing means anything
    And this world’s dying
    Nature is dying
    & Will be dead in 100 years
    If we’re around in 100 years
    (Which I doubt
    Because man’s nature is to destroy himself...

    Just look at the ground—it’s paved
    & The sky—it’s clouded over with chemicals
    & Those mountains...

    We need so much to control
    To our detriment...)
    But we’re in the midst of Nothing

    & Death is always with us
    We could die at any time
    (I could die right now...)
    & People don’t want to admit it

    & God, if there’s an immortal God
    Why would he have to do with us?
    For his amusement? We were created
    For amusement?

    No, there’s Nothing
    There’s never been anything
    But that makes it all the more precious & wonderful
    But my poetry, what I say is
    So people know this. I say it
    From the midst of the Immediate
    I speak it from there
    That everything is the most beautiful poem

    & Look around you
    Just look & you’ll see it
    Even when I’m not writing it
    It’s how I say it
    & Make it as I say it
    Like now...look

    That it is.

    Bondo-cho, Kyoto, 3:30 P.M.


    How simple
    if the “self”
    could be

    “death” in an
    as word in
    word, but the

    hooked to
    monitor &

    a target for
    kisses & tears
    a doll

    of fat &
    tissue, to be
    read to, to be

    ered to, con-
    fessed to, all
    the hu-

    man follies
    upon it

    the nugget of
    genius dinted
    perhaps, but

    still there
    tucked away
    in the wreck

    & signaling
    through the
    single see-
    ing eye
    for rest

    for termination
    for blank-
    ness, as in


    as in

    March 5, 2004

“Cid Corman’s Gift” is a transcription of a remarkable “spontaneous poem” that Cid Corman performed on one of the main drags of Kyoto as he, Shizumi, myself and my family, were walking to his favorite Chinese restaurant. The day was a fine one and Cid was in high spirits. We’d previously had occasion to discuss how Cid had done experiments in improvisatory poetry years before, and I am certain this is what prompted him to attempt to communicate his feelings in this way. Picture, then, this elderly but striking man, in overcoat and sporting the artist’s tam he loved so much, accompanying the words of his “Gift” with broad gestures, and even stepping lightly as he moved through his utterance in a sly semi-dance, while the poker-faced Japanese stepped around us with hardly a look, though I seem to recall that a few of the children did notice what he was up to and grinned approval. This spoken poem was quickly over and I surreptitiously transcribed what I could of it during our lunch and after Maya, Yo, and I returned to our hotel room. The lineation is mine, the stanzas are mine, but the words and sentiments are entirely Cid’s.

—J. G