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Charles Stein

2017 Season

Charles Stein reads his poetry at the exhibition opening of Neil Denari’s Displaced Buildings in the Aperiodic City at ‘T’ Space in Rhinebeck, NY.

Click here to visit Charles Stein’s website.


The elephants have multiplied

in a forest beyond the world

(though in this world

they dwindle).


Or beyond the world one elephant

wags in the vagueness

or wags in the brilliance

of vast transcosmic spaces.


Or mindspace is one elephant

inside of which a cosmos

turns its thought.



And every thought that rises easily seems

to ride one elephant

just as before,

each ponderous step, the heart beat of some cosmos

and thought is a wheel…




Disaster regions plague the globe

through which my elephant passes

seeking immemorial grounds

safe from marauders

to which it must return

as to some cosmic home beyond the world

there to release its store of furious memory

that the world through which it made its lifelong sojourn

might turn once more—


each thought released compels one turn of the void

that forms a world




And every thought yet seems

a chest of inestimable treasure

mounted on some elephant

locked against a forest of marauders,

terrible poachers of ivory,

out to ruin another sacred realm

that precious thoughts still walk in…




A thousand elephants walk beyond the world

their great trunks wagging in the dimness

and the trumpet calls they utter to each other

pass as waves of thought across the void

causing waves of thought across the world

to disturb our mortal slumber…




Sad are worlds in tow of captive elephants—

broken worlds—




The elephants thrash in chains

for children in a theme park

on holiday to ride them—

they sway in disconsolate rhythms

in the park dust

while the children clamor.


And the cosmos is some theme park …


Each planet is in tow

on the back of an elephant

proceeding with constant tread

about some dusty sun


and every thought that rises in an earth mind

sparks at the end of a ray from an elephant’s eye

across such planetary spaces


and everywhere the elephants are rocking

in grief that they cannot return

to immemorial grounds


to revive the worlds…

Charles Stein’s  work comprises a complexly integrated field of poems, prose reflections, translations, drawings, photographs, lectures, conversations, and performances.

Born in 1944 in New York City, he is the author of thirteen books of poetry including Views from Tornado Island (Lunar Chandelier), From Mimir’s Head (Station Hill Press), a verse translation of The Odyssey (North Atlantic Books), a forthcoming translation of The Iliad (Station Hill Press), and The Hat Rack Tree (Station Hill Press). His prose writings include a vision of the Eleusinian Mysteries, Persephone Unveiled (North Atlantic Books), a critical study of poet Charles Olson’s use of the writing of C.G. Jung, The Secret of the Black Chrysanthemum (Station Hill Press), and a collaborative study with George Quasha of the work of Gary Hill, An Art of Limina: Gary Hill’s Works & Writings, Ediciones Poligrafa. He holds a Ph.D. in literature from the University of Connecticut at Storrs and lives with guitarist, choral director, and research historian, Megan Hastie in Barrytown New York.

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