My dove is home, her breast is warm, my dove is home.... A song by Neko Case, ricocheting around my head. Lots of references to tornadoes on her new album; fortunately, the weather here has been anything but tornadic (although some men took down a sick tree that bordered the drive next to my building. Recent winds had cracked-off one too many of its scrawny limbs. --They wore matching green hard hats, and the word "Green Haven" was painted in large letters on their truck-crane, as if all that green would get them into Heaven despite their line of work.
(And of course, today was Earth Day!)
--One of them got hoisted up into the high branches, so he could start lopping them off with his handy little chain saw.
It must be hard taking down a tree, any tree. You have to trust in not falling. Plus, the saw must be heavy, as you aim its whirrrrrr into the solid wood before you.
The chain-saw noise made it hard to think about anything, except getting away.
By the time I got home from school, there was an uneven stump, cut low to the ground, and a desultory pile of sawdust next to it.
I wondered what the neighboring trees were thinking...
Tonight's writing will be brief. It's mid-week, after all; a breathing space feels necessary.
Plus, I'm getting ready for a reading from my "Diorama" book on Sunday, at the local indie book store.
You know the feeling: nervous that no one will come; equally nervous that everyone will come.
It's like giving a party at which you are the main course, no--the dessert, the chocolate cake, the baked Alaska. (I've never eaten the latter--but I've always loved the name).
Tonight is for distraction.
--A friend of mind just called me from Denver, where he had walked the streets to air himself out a bit after a difficult exam he'd taken.
He said he'd been looking for distraction, but maybe that's just another word for meditating on something a little outside your usual frame.
Allow me to distract you with a pair of vastly different writers.
Are you familiar with Cal Bedient's work? Maybe you all are, and I'm the last person to get the message, but I heard him read at AWP in Chicago a couple months ago, and he was witty and brilliant, and his poems are astonishing in a happy way. Saturnalia Books published Days of Unwilling last year.
Here's part of a poem, chosen randomly, to share with you:
"Your Blue Hurts Our Green Like a Ladder Pointing the Wrong Way Out of Raw"
so that the "beautiful 'phenomena' of life we must endure. And who really wants
a last unfaithful gawk at earth, as through a window of mountains grown so small
they're scraps on light's table, or to listen
to the hero in his musky petunia shirt say once more,
"If I have eyes, it's to see what stands off from me
like a great odor where the wound
still festers in the master of bronze"?
I knew then how he misunderstood the mission of the senses.
Amiable riders, like trellis-work, approaching through the blossoming almonds.
Saw how he trivialized the obscurity of the real....
[It goes on for much longer--I'm getting tired of typing, and--
No, what a minute, I want to run through some titles of his poems, that's what I want to do (I told you: distraction- ) ( no: just noticing something outside the usual frame... ):
What Though Your Daddy's Trumpet is Buttered Toast?
Alison Thank You for Your Question
Chorus Heralding Itself Out of the Imperial Redundancy of the Rain Against the Sobbing Breath of the Tide
Roses Come at Me Barking like Little Dogs...
and it goes on in this vein, and it's wonderful, and--
I think you should read his poems.
Next: Lisa Robertson, Occasional Work and Seven Walks for the Office of Soft Architecture (Clear Cut
Press, 2003). The book is categorized as "new research & popular literature"; it's tiny (4 x 6-ish?), a paperback with a nice jacket that describes the book as a "lyrical document" of changes undergone by Vancouver, B.C., in recent years and also as "a practical guide for the navigation and appreciation of contemporary cities." The book is wall-to-wall prose, with lovely old black & white and crisply digitized color photographs, old Vancouver postcards, industrial scenes of change, a repetitive collage of similar (or the same?) houses... but this book is poetry, and I guarantee you a fine time, if you dip into it: e.g., on the second page of "Pure Surface," Robinson writes:
The suburb is a received idea, a quoted stupidity, a commonplace cliche, a spatial imposter, a couple of curios, an idle machine, a proof of the great chain of simulation.
And the next paragraph starts:
The hour should be evening and the season summer. It is suppertime, the lesson of manners. Fanning waterworks moisten driveways and sidewalks in synchronized shimmers. Ranks of acid-coloured geraniums border picture windows on both sides of the silent street...
The suburb is a child's Versailles. ... Then, the lawns were mostly empty. Everything was visible. The childish comfort of the explicit, the regular, the habitual, was piqued by the vagaries of adult bridge parties and the relation of Simplicity tissue paper patterns to the mothers 'Mary Quant shifts.
... We were taught by fathers that if we spun around on the rec room floor until we fell over dizzy, that is how it felt to be drunk.
At noon our bare knees hit the pavement without flinching. Friendship was an exquisitely inflexible choreography of confession and betrayal. Books were weapons.
Don't you just love it? Did I quote you enough to get a taste?
And: why is there such policing of the borders between poetry and prose, anyway?
Maybe we can rely enough on the pulse of words, even strung along lines of so-called prose, to announce themselves as Poetry (when that is what they are-- ).
Personally, no matter what form I write in: I'm calling it poetry, these days.
(And on that note,
this distracted writer is signing off.... )