Two Poems
Martin Rock

excerpt from New Country

In order to create a country,
you have to create its mother tongue

-- Takashi Hiraide


We can do anything we want.
We are building a language together.


Some words are levers
which we must learn to use,

and halls shaped like whale's ribs
that lead to doors
made of baleen.

Politicians will be outlawed,
but the father of every family

will know how to bend his words
into a shape that is easy to believe

and difficult to comprehend.


You can name our children
after all the things we won't have

and when words fall from the sky
like stormfish

I will invent you my umbrella.

We will build our first city
of symbols and marble

which is what we will call mud
and mud, by your leave.


We can worship Hermes

though we must be careful
what we call him.

I've been rehearsing
the pronunciation of wedlock

though I'll wait for your notes
before the grand opening.


If it pleases you,
our children will sound
like sparrows

or earthquakes.

We will name them quickly.

They can gather the pieces
of our rising house.

A Moment of Sleep

I'm reading Po Chü-I,
who fell asleep
1200 years ago
while riding a horse.

Last night I nodded off
on my way home
and when I woke up,
the train was full of ghosts.