Rome, A Mobile Home

Jerry Estrin

1993 • 81 pp. • $9.95
ISBN: 9780937804513
Illustrated by Norma Cole
(Published in collaboration with Roof Books, The Figures, and Potes & Poets)

Purchase from Small Press Distribution

“Jerry Estrin has devoted his work to a profound ethical debate with what we call history, consisting of those public places (and their times) in which a private person, wandering, most knows his or her presence—and absence. In the various and fascinating works collected here, intellectual motion is itself a position—or, one might say, a moral emotion. The result is a beautiful book—and one whose importance absolutely must not be ignored.”
—Lyn Hejinian

“Jerry Estrin’s songs are flat-out, epic, condensed, and still as a sunset—songs of bewildering brilliance and decay, they perversely construct the impression of helplessly over-determined, hard-boiled, common sense in/of this thus far advanced avalanche called civilization, history collapsing into an internal present masked as absence: fringe benefit from the producers to the produced, a gift wrapped in an impermeable transparency. These poems face it with honesty, clarity of mind and heart, struggle on all fronts.”
—Steve Benson

“On the one hand, Rome, A Mobile Home is a scathing critique of the production of culture through the effects of empire and war. And our Synchronistic Citizen. Estrin, has achieved an exquisite orchestration of a poetics that takes on the morally binding and tricky dialogue between the human and the inhuman, between what we can and what we can’t control. This writing provides no reassuring escapes, and for this I am thankful. Rome is a powerful work, worthy of many readings.”
—Carla Harryman

“Rome, A Mobile Home makes good on its wonderful title: a pleasure and a warning. The sun never sets on the Empire’s trailer/theme park. Estrin takes aim at our culture’s tendency to reductive appropriation with laconic, fearsome wit. The famous (the known) are equivalent: Caesar and Roger Maris. ‘I will now be visible forever.’ We are all implicated. This is where we live.”
—Rae Armantrout

“Jerry Estrin has gathered together so many ‘spirit’ voices (on a ‘park bench’ by day) so amiably—agréable (-bly)—that, in a poetry ‘at least as well written as prose’, the batty (‘surrealist’) denunciation of the Emperor must do well/shall not be in vain! nor his exemplary/insurrectionist /funny ‘Citizen’s Dash’ of writing/thinking (my daily task)—an absolute (quietly accumulating/accumulated/accomplished) model for us all!”
—Robert Grenier


Born in Los Angeles in 1947, Jerry Estrin grew up playing in the back lots of movie studios. He received a B.A. in Russian History and Sociology from UCLA in the sixties, an M.A. in English from San Francisco State University in the seventies and an M.A. in Literacy Education from UC Berkeley in 1992. As founder and editor of the magazines Vanishing Cab and Art and Con, Estrin was one of the west coast’s most influential editors until his death in 1993. Jerry Estrin’s books include A Book of Gestures (Somber Reptiles, 1980), In Motion Speaking (Chance Additions, 1986), COLD HEAVEN (Zasterle Press, 1990), and ROME, A MOBILE HOME (Roof Books, 1993).


From: Rome, A Mobile Home, 4

When you rush toward the flickering screen
The theater is missing.
Caesar expanded congruent with this space.

Of sovereignty there can be no grasp. To illustrate, one has only
to become enfranchised and utterly new, constantly there are
climate control systems in the middle of the forehead.

There are fairy tales flying into the familiar body of the empire.

Nothingness and silence, nothing but Caesar and banks,
and banks of stars.
Were there only blank stares over Rome?

They well straight up and enter the eradicated judges.
Uneradicated judges enter scene by scene.

From: Nudes, 1:

To emerge from power as a ghost
With one knee held out to stage light
To stage light
The ghost of a line
An analogy can hardly be conceived
With one’s own will
One is turned or returned upon one’s own kind
Or finding kindness
In toneless colors
Comprehensible because outside
A kind if comfortless
Ghost of a line
Of self-professed access
This shattered figure of victory