Jean Donnelly: The Soul Heals

the soul heals to saturate literature


the first falsehood
of literature is that

our species with names
incorporates chance

as the first line of fact
the soul likewise

only glances
the justification

for parables
bitter though it may

appear a stance
& a gauge of language






don’t the fates object
is here

what is attendant

upon modes of writing
adopted by men

crying in subjugation

to the self-same

labor situated

the lecture





in effect
when one commences

to write within
a window of regard

a middle distance

that the soul might heal
under a frantic mouth





night sequesters the travel
couched at information

vapors of honorifics that support
a trove of returning hate

the ceiling for what might
be lit or acquired

& finally acquiesced
by one certain force

whipping the hours
with syllables




time is a tactless
command to be

also the structure
of home


& the drone

of populace
adroit & tracing

seen &
unseen signs

noise that sings down
the smallness of being

(like pinning the tail
on the donkey)




is being not

a scrambling
to add or detract

from the humble
part of the intellect

what is
the humble part

what is it
that part might say

what is
its encore

what dances
at the sky

with the hours
& the purview

of victory
with all that is

the labor
of others




signs see a force
in each instance

crying out (again)
& blazing

without more
reason what is put

more than defined
by words

what comes & places
its intense source of light

& the ideas that function
to allow the day

in the ear
in the mind

O might the soul heal
with a monstrous love

placed by a ruse
in the horrifying mind

we think a brash
tactlessness is contrary

to us & to our time here
with language





lies drape sense
& its desire

for reciprocity
all our infant labor

over the ages
overtures to

the humid doors
of a detonated center

all that we enforce
in doors of ink &

inordinate sounds
an indelible

glass coast

laws & rights
while the soul heals

it enters
the mirror

& truth

remains drunk
& clotted


ABOUT THE TEXT: “The soul heals to saturate literature” is from a collection of liberal homophonic readings & orthographical transcriptions of poems in French from the collection Pièces by Francis Ponge (1899 – 1988). They in no way reflect the precise, nearly clinical, and often wry descriptions of objects that populate Ponge’s prose poems. They are sites of textual encounter and their process entailed a listening at the threshold of the material traces of Ponge’s poems. The sounds of phonemes, the indexical traces I read, the images I found or that were called up were soundings at the depths between languages where I heard the cadence of something not my own though I was present hearing it.

Jean Donnelly is the author of Anthem (Sun & Moon) selected by Charles Bernstein for the National Poetry Series and the julia set (Edge), a chapbook. Her poems have appeared recently in Verse and Boog City. She lives in Exeter, New Hampshire with her children.