Jesse Ball’s Silence Once Begun: “In the first part of my life with Sotatsu, he lived in a cell in a jail where the sun came south through the window on an avenue all its own where it was forced to stoop and stoop again until when it arrived at its little house it was hardly the sun at all, just a shabby old woman. Yet we were always looking for her, this sun, when she would come, always eager to have her meager presents, her thin delineations.”
Robert Frost, writing a letter in 1913: “The best place to get the abstract sound of sense is from voices behind a door that cuts off the words.”
These two quotes are the only two reasons I’ve dog-eared pages recently. The first is from late in this story, and the second is from late in this one.
I haven’t been focusing as much as I’d like. I’ve been working or packing all the time recently, one or the other. I’m getting ready to move, and tasks at the other end of the apartment are always calling, no matter at which end I may be. Work is kind of the same. These poems have broken through a bit and directed my focus outward, at least for short periods of time. Yes, they deserve better. They throw me off kilter in a way both scary and hopeful.
“Son of Fog,” Dean Young. Makes me think of being in San Francisco two or some years ago, staring into a foggy cove and having no idea where life would go next. “What a mess. We stand at the edge / of a drop that doesn’t answer back, / fog our only friend although it’s hell / on shrimpboats.”
From “The Sonnagrams,” K. Silem Mohammad. He puts a Shakespearean sonnet into an anagram engine, then rearranges the text until it makes some sense again. I feel this way at the end of almost every week these days. Productive but scrambled. “A purple fist, a Federalist, a sunspot, / A bird that’s got a big big butt to study, / A guy named Toots, ten dumb galoots, a gunshot, / Die Fledermaus by good ol’ Strauss (my buddy)….”
“You’re,” Sylvia Palth. For Plath, happiness looking at her baby before her eventual final sadness. “Clownlike, happiest on your hands, / Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled, / Gilled like a fish.” And then we flip the journey…
“Epilogue,” Robert Lowell. Starts with sadness, ends with a higher calling, within sight of happiness? In life, sadness haunted him, but he never gave in. “Pray for the grace of accuracy / Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination / stealing like the tide across a map / to his girl solid with yearning.”
“Song,” John Fuller. Naturalism of the face. “You don’t listen to what I say. / When I lean towards you in the car / You simply smile and turn away.” A lover? God? Life? Take your pick, your perspective. Take the smile, at least.