by Jack Foley

                        “Am I speaking to anyone but myself?”


heaven is near
I spent a few hours last night
re-reading Brambu Drezie Book III
(the Book I know least well)
heaven is near
how is it possible
that something I do NOT understand
should appear to be so abundantly clear
I think
the beauty of the language has
something to do with this—
the many stories, the images (strange,
disturbing), the rambling, “subjective” passages—
all have the feeling
of a vast piece of music
heaven is near
It is no more to be understood
than music
and no less—
“Nietzsche, like Saint John of the Cross, knew that night too is a sun”
“I hear animal shapes in the song”
“I’m tore open raw and clean”
If the poem is like anything
it is like Eliot’s Waste Land
except that Eliot’s Waste Land
has spawned an industry of “explication”
an industry of “understanding”
which I don’t think can be done with
Berry’s great work
The poem is no more to be understood
than life is to be understood
though it is
heaven is near
(like life)
to be experienced
“I came here,” Jake writes,
“to speak to the dead
and found them alive
and possessed by a green fire—
branches and leaves
grew from their shoulders”
that green
heaven is near
is Whitman’s color
and the color of life
“I fold my hands on my lap and study
the raw nerve trees burning
I move in their fever”
the lines
move in my heart