Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Please run to the bookstore or click on the link and buy A Carnage in the Lovetrees by my friend and ally Richard Greenfield. It's a stunning, exploded kind of a book in which elements of often painful personal history find themselves on a level playing field with elements of public history, and above all with the language that struggles to contain them both and gets charged with a strange electricity in the process. Stephen Burt's review, though hasty, tin-eared, and obtuse (Richard's mother is still very much alive), does accurately describe what I think to be some of Richard's most attractive and daring qualities: "Greenfield’s distinctively serious mien sends him out on consciously risky searches for the obtrusively beautiful; his emotions, by contrast, emerge through understatements: 'Pale evening duns make clouds in the platinum river shine. . . . The hatch is a mass among many, you never get the girl, you live far from others.'" He'll be reading as part of the New Brutalism series at 21Grand in Oakland when he leaves Denver, where's he's currently living, to visit the Bay Area sometime in late May. "New brutalism" describes what he does pretty well in some ways. Here's one of his most scarifying poems from the book:
Cipher in Scene

Years in which the annuli of the stars imprinted on her encasement that which comes after q—.

On the desert brink the monochrome sky is in all and unseen meridians surgically cross a cement tomb.

A fire cooks the block of her, splits found to the air flecks of blood and babyteeth, a femur where a finder must retch.

What pools in the hardpan anneals with absurd reprisal; because that mold is imperfect and crueler.

I wish I were a drop of water before her buds. I wish the end of day were more than a sequence of light.

Jubilance is a corrupt noise to the dead, dark meat on the plate.

Back-paged, columned, or x'ed over a commuting shoulder, or found even at epicenter, the song will not resonate

in such a burn zone, within the absolute spelling.

But what I do love most about Richard is his instinct for the genuinely lyrical within a zone of ruthless self-questioning. Here's the poem Burt was quoting from in full:
Lives of the Hatch

Pale evening duns make clouds in the platinum river shine.

The central electric buzz is resplendent deathmate.

He climbed into the limbs of her father's orchard. He climbed her curtained proportion counterspin to the raised woody arms and the postered walls, cricket of nights, fear aureate and green on the boy's chest.

Obvious Dipper and the searing white granulate seen through gaps in the canopy, the spectacle galaxy above the witness leaves.

We imagine that all must die.
A walk among the short-serenade mules ears, blooming higher than the treeline.

In the valley the colonial poxkill of the indigenous is converted into commerce; my flawed imagination will not be sustained. Not all. Not all.

Forget the rivers drop bi-coastal from my home, the news static or old, the music the dobro dissipates on the plains.

Here are the shimmering abridged eruptions of summer.

The first person leaves us entirely to ourselves without the choir.

The hatch is a mass among many, you never get the girl, you live far from others.

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