He took away My Face, Twice
"Poetry goes on all the time, in talk, sleep and thought," TOM CLARK says.
He had to find a space to write between:
These Lines Seemed Blank Enough.
He had to hold sleep off all day
to make his mind awake, while
Flashes of pornography and daytime TV
interrupted the itch in his belly.
The children of redemption made their way
back to the soil
beneath the forest.
At the time we were discussing Emily
before the flood, the accumulation of packets,
the desire for a suitable punctuation
for escape and ecstasy…
with hands and feet and – closing teeth
and the threshold of enlightenment
beyond the joy and tinsel…
beyond ‘cannot’ in a mollusk skull… a black New England coast
dug up and dug into for miles in both directions.
Men have been lost in pretense for centuries here…
hardly worth the distractions and repetitions
of school children across America…
while we tire
of our lineage, spotted with the loss of names, a retreat from wonder, a billboard marked with graffito and prediction since Helvetian scholars remade Rome
as they took tubes from Michelangelo and awoke in the Twentieth Century subway between Boston and New York,
falling beneath the sky each night, relieved with plastic relief, one
sentence at a time
And we fell for a line from Monsanto about the future of eco-production and fertility for the female boys
working their lances, or grandparents severed by sentiment and prescience,
fondling choir leaders and then growing more
promising with jaded peculiarities
one aspirin at a time, while we clung to the word handed down from the mountain just outside W. Virginia, will it be nuclear or safe coal?
The business is in the game,
the crowd seeking moonlight, the daughter held hostage by diplomats, the dormitories smelling like heaven and oysters
on their own.
While my back hurts in the afternoon from downloading episodes of Perry Mason and Peter Gunn, hoping Della will finally get to meet Lola Albright in the movie theatre of my heart
or the sheep who have their own ideas about mistletoe
and strawberries, wind, the giant azure sky and fame. The trouble with closure
is the academics think they have a patent on it and
dreams posses us, night and day, and the heat of the afternoon
comes and goes like short poems by long-winded poets
ready for the next syllable of fate.
Desolation row-bob dylan. I honestly don't know what else to say. Nice post.
That's probably the nice thing you could say, Fickledlife.
There's a lot to mull over here, Peter, good job with this one.
Here's what my friend in Brooklyn sent me this morning:
This poem didn't click for me right away although I liked it and
was intrigued by it. With time and successive re-readings it has
started to open up for me. To me it's about trying to get between the
spaces and beyond or beneath the plastic feel-good culture to real
meanings and values that are forgotten or lie buried beneath the earth
and beneath our rational minds. A process of remembering, dreaming,
and/or digging out.
I think the poem, or the kind of questioning, you're doing in the
poem, has dramatic potential that could be could be explored or taken
further in other, future poems, if you wanted to, of, say, placing a
poem in a black New England coast at some kind of dig, whether some
futuristic archeological dig or digging to make room for the
foundation of some gigantic fictional gambling casino or credit card
office... or library of culture where Rome and Greece are forgotten. .
Lines that I especially liked and that pulled me in right away
were about the grandparents growing more prescient and peculiar "one
aspirin at a time" , echoing the "one sentence at a time" of plastic
relief in the preceding stanza; and the evocation of a whole different
kind of consciousness in the notion of what kind of ideas sheep have
about the different subjects you named.
From there I wanted to figure out what was the connection, if
any, between the sentences of plastic culture and the sentences of
Rome at the time the Helvetian scholars remade it (I'm not familiar
with this reference though and couldn't find out except to learn that
"Helvetian" means "Swiss"). I also wanted to know what the title
meant, and thought of face as identity, also face as self-pride;
couldn't quite figure it out. I think the poem points to meanings
beyond rationality and into dream, as well as that sense of afternoons
especially late afternoons when subjects and predicates don't match --
connections beyond the reach of our usual methods of trying to figure
things out. It also seemed a very Bay Area aesthetic sensibility --
the sense of the absurd being more a part of people's consciousness
than here in hard-nosed pragmatic NYC. . .
In the end, I'm not finished reading this poem and finding things
in it. . . and I also wonder what directions it will take you... in
the quest beyond the easy, comforting solutions that are so much a
part of our culture (where Della meets Lola Albright "in the movie
theatre of my heart"), (or is this the romantic yearnings that are so
much a part of who we are as humans), beyond that or beneath that to
the place where things, ideas, ways of being of merit or value (the
Greek beneath the Roman?) lie waiting to be re-discovered or
re-created. In a way this seems like a dream journey, in the Jungian
sense where successive dreams (successive poems) take one further
along the journey/quest.
Can you clear up the reference to the Helvetian scholars for me?
How are you thinking of Rome, and of this moment in its history (when
"Helvetian scholars remade Rome")?
Although if the puzzle to be solved that would lead to the answer
of which door to open to our future (impossible?) is like a mollusk
skull, the mystery of biology and evolution, perhaps history doesn't
even provide any answers/clues. Still, one wants to know.
p.s. And I didn't mention but just realized how the poem wants to move
from pornography and daytime TV to the real love & genuine encounters
that take place in the the movie theater of the heart, and where in
reality do we find genuine encounters, love, meaning to match the
scenarios in daydream and dream? One doesn't seem to find them; or
only rarely; the plastic culture/ aspirin culture works against it. So
there is a disconnect. Like the disconnect of late afternoon. This
seems to be very much a part of the poem, too.
Your friend should be a member on this site.