Charles Bernstein

vicarious  atonement

nobody’s perfect
but I get a lot out of
sailors at sea
soles on my shoes
and the smell of
in a vacuum


Clinging to life, filled with dread
Fed upon by swarms of the undead
Who eat my flesh, gnaw my bones
As if for them it’s holy bread

Uncorrected Proof

Fissures lament wholeness
Much as a barber depends on beards
Or whatever other costume
The maker made for you
While I remain naked
As the day I died

(Épreuve non corrigée

Les fissures se lamentent la totalité
Tout comme un barbier dépend des barbes
Ou de tout autre costume
Le fabricant a fait pour toi
Tandis que je reste nu
Comme le jour je suis mort)

The Sleeve of My Sleeve Is Not My Sleeve

If it comes to it, and who’s to say it won’t?,
the azaleas can always go into the pickle
jar and the perceived slights can be shelved
next to the Limoges plates and Lithuanian
bric-a-brac. Forget Donald Duck, no matter
how hard that is once put it in your mind.
Mind? Yes, I do, very much so.

“the meter was wrong in my mind”

at times
you can’t
say it
any other
way, but
this is
not one
of those.  

for Robert Grenier

Poet, essayist, editor, translator, and scholar, Charles Bernstein is the author, most recently, of Topsy-Turvy (2021), Pitch of Poetry (2016), and Near/Miss (2018), all from the University of Chicago Press. A founding member of Language poetry, Bernstein was Professor of Poetry and Poetics at SUNY-Buffalo from 1990 to 2003, where he co-founded the Poetics Program and Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2019. More information can be found on the University of Pennsylvania’s website here.

Read next: Poetry by Robert Laidler

Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent quarterly based in Detroit that presents exploratory points of view on arts, culture, and society in addition to original works in various media, including visual art, literature, film and the performing arts. We solicit and commission contributions from artists, writers, and activists around the world. Three Fold is a publication of Trinosophes Projects, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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