September 10, 2014 § Leave a comment
Paragraphs were torn: their topics decapitated, bodies rent, conclusions riven. So many page ones exiled from twos, who were now strangers unrecognized to threes, though neighborly enough with fours to borrow flour and power tools. Editorial arrows lost their tips; and these, their quiver. The infidelity of salutations unsigned, Dears divorced of Sincerely, and promiscuous signatures, Yours, without addresses. The tower of letters, when felled by the wind, crashed like a wave, mixing meanings as though they were metaphors. “I want you” . . . to do what, though? The page underneath, now a different letter entirely, offered no clue. It spoke the same language but with a foreign tongue. Simple requests thus became amorous declarations, but what of the nearby “FUCK YOU!”? Was it missing its “I WANT TO”? The characters of this correspondence, sensibly in extremis, contextually exhausted, collapsed.
Reading is a kind of writing, the room seemed to wheeze.
September 9, 2014 § Leave a comment
The window blew a breathy sigh through the open window and toppled the totemic stack of papers. Its collapse was hushed like a secret kept and as sudden as one told. Loose leaves, lined and unlined, fell together and scattered apart. Handwritten letters, whose tonguey loops lapped up the blanks below and licked down everything left above, bent forward, suffering legibility like a mule its load but unable to bear a breeze, spread across the floor like languages at the razed foot of Babel. What sense could be made of this mess?
September 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
He loved the shop, the smells of the naphthas and benzenes, the ammonias, all the alkalis and fats, all the solvents and gritty lavas, the silken detergents and ultimate soaps, like the smells, he decided of flesh itself, of release, the disparate chemistries of pore and sweat — a sweat shop — the strange wooly-smelling acids that collected in armpits and atmosphered pubic hair, the flameless combustion of urine and gabardine mixing together to create all the body’s petty suggestive alimentary toxins. The sexuality of it. The men’s garments one kind, the women’s another, confused, deflected, masked by residual powders, by the oily invisible resins of deodorant and perfume, by the concoted flower and the imagined fruit — by all fabricated flavor. And hanging in the air, too — where would they go? — dirty, the thin, exiguous human clays, divots, ash and soils, dust devils of being.
“Irving, add water, we’ll make a man.”
– Stanley Elkin, The Franchiser
September 4, 2014 § Leave a comment
September 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
I’ve mentioned in the past, to any who may be listening or care, or neither, my love of the poet H.D. Her work holds a power over me that I cannot, nor do I desire to, qualify or explain. Reading much of it closely, I find what I might ordinarily regard as flaws. Perhaps a bit ardent here. Overly esoteric there. Mostly humorless. But the spoken quality of her work is almost — why am I hedging?? — incantatory. I don’t know how many angels and devils I’ve conjured over the years reading her poetry aloud; what spectral kingdoms I’ve summoned; or, for that matter, where they should reign. The greatest literature, perhaps, conjures this belief in ghosts, if not the ghosts themselves. Might it, too, dispel the difference?
If any hold the answers, if indeed these are proper questions at all, surely it would be Eurydice. Would that my reading tonight conjure the spirit of a defiance uncertain of its worth, in the face of a ruthlessness all too certain of its.
September 2, 2014 § 2 Comments
As pointed out recently by Blckgrd, and more distantly by others, I’ve allowed this space to grow a little dusty. The gutters, filled with last autumn’s fall; hinges, inside and out, squeaking chorally with the mice and sundry vermin I’ve long given haven. It had been my hope to spend much of my vacation writing and, as tends to happen, directing it out of places perhaps best unseen to here, for the likes of you who I never see at all. One week in, and I’ve managed nothing of the sort. I’d blame the twisty roads of Ireland and their ill effects on my stomach or the Irish whisky tying my tongue. This, though, would be a bald-faced lie, as either malady could just as fairly be pinned on all those foot-falling ghosts, of Finnegan to Flann, and the alchemy of a landscape turned language, from the hillside plow to bog-born poetry. Ireland was, let’s say, distracting, in the best and worst senses.
At any rate, as of today I’m in the flat-chested Lowlands for two weeks. The horizon outside my window now is pocked like a waffle. If there is a vanishing point here it isn’t off in the distance, but rather diffused into the bikeable density of red-bricked, bourgeois comfort. This is to say, I should have plenty of time to write, as indeed I just have.
And yet I began doing so at all not to go on as I have, but simply to quote. Which I shall do now:
“Ben, everything there is is against you being here! Think of get togethers, family stuff, golden anniversaries in rented halls, fire regulations celebrated more in the breach than the observance, the baked Alaska up in flames, everybody wiped out — all the cousins in from the coast. Wiped out. Rare, yes — who says not — certainly rare, but it could happen, has happened. And once is enough if you’ve been invited. All the people picked off by plagues and folks eaten by the earthquakes and drowned in the tidal waves, all the people already dead that you might have been or who might have begat the girl who married the guy who fathered the fellow who might have been your ancestor — all the showers of sperm dried on his Kleenex or spilled on his sheets or fell on the ground or dirtied his hands when he jerked off or came in his p.j.’s or no, maybe he was actually screwing and the spermatozoon had your number written on it and it was lost at sea because that’s what happens, you see — there’s low mortality and torn tails — that’s what happens to all but a handful out of all the googols and gallons of come, more sperm finally than even the grains of sand I was talking about, more even than the degrees. Well — am I making the picture for you? Am I connecting the dots? Ben, Ben, Nick the Greek wouldn’t lay a fart against a trillion bucks that you’d ever make it to this planet!”
– Stanley Elkin, The Franchiser
May 12, 2014 § 2 Comments
The wind had the effect of making a jumble of things.
Sixes flipped into nines, nines resigned to sixes;
zeroes always the same.
Addresses renumbered or reduced to Cyrillic-seeming gibberish.
What to do when numbers fail us? When jotted notes,
memorials to memories since passed, don’t match the present?
We write these things down for a reason:
because reason survives the breath of thought
easier than the gusts of a gale;
the page endures even when its sense is as scattered
as letters, blown from a desk as correspondence
to the floor as characters.