A Glass Tube Ecstasy

For Hugo Ball


a glass tube

for my leg       says Hugo Ball

my hat a cylinder

in blue & white

the night       the german ostriches       the sink

he pisses in

all these become his world

his dada song, begun there

holds the image

until it comes at us:

the image from its cross

looks down:

a ribbon

a revolver


these contribute

to his death

also to what his death contributes

later, too hysterical

too sick with god

& time:

a carousel

a roasted poet


the queen says to his mind

& enters

where the street of mirrors starts

she sees his face


in hunger of the world

as pain, the consciousness

of death       not why we die

but why we dream about it

& why our dreams can’t save

the dying remnant


as I write this poem

the voice cries

from a further room

the dancer / singer calls me

from a further room

I step into an obelisk

below the waist

my mouth opens to sing

but freezes


in grief for you





the collapse of language

tabla tokta tokta takabala

taka tak

a glass tube ecstasy

escapes from time

babula m’balam

the image & the word

over your bed

hang       crucified

again the cabaret explodes

again again




in glass

a glass nerve


a priestly gas pump


her hair out

Bibliographical info

Jerome Rothenberg, “A Glass Tube Ecstacy” from New Selected Poems 1970-1985Copyright © 1986 by New Directions Publishing Corporation. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: New Selected Poems 1970-1985 (New Directions Books, 1986).

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