HittitesWhat fun she is! And the fun comes wrapped in mystery: the odd slippages of word and syntax ("left the rice / boil over"), the Biblical intonation, the silliness of "kippers," all become an objective correlative to a feeling not unlike the combination of a hiccup, a laugh, and a lump in the throat. Her writing is powered more by unusual words and word-combinations than either Tate's or Ashbery's is; Ashbery seems to think in sentences while Tate's is a prosody of the paragraph. I like it a lot. Under the influence of her book and Mary Jo Bang's latest (their senses of humor are similar, though Mary Jo's is darker) I wrote this on the plane home:
Hittites rode by on contemporary village machines
I don't speak Hittite; Christine does, but she wasn't there
Yaz the Distinguished acknowledged
the puffing of the populace
a Nubian held aloft his plate of kippers
Your eyes will be the eyes of the basilisk, my lamb
when you behold how I left the rice
boil over while I watched them go by
Next Saturday is Hittite Saturday!
As far away as Ravenna, people will be in touch with their feelings!
Alice, or Awkward
A game girl-shape came glimmering through the dusk,
clattering goth gestures with her spine, hair, and hands.
"Fly," she cried, "for the father of this fane has fled, alread-
y, took the books and the bricks, battered sheer matter
through force of flattery, and hatted, cored a door
in the original apple to abscond unbonded."
She whirled leaving two tears unshaped in the air
panned by her face, long lens to the brain,
foregrounding grotesque foreshortenings of a limb's
apery. To speak of beesbuzz, buzzfor Alice was not the name
of the unmasked damask dancer who twirled diagonally to drill
at an angle sure to miss the deep heart's floor.
Someone had blundered and wellmeanwhile mittened Judge Toby
sniffed up snuff and withheld his sneeze
like the word from a beardor cloud!that fails to find its mark
in the actual dark breathing and beating room
to which our undergound girl had furled herself, from which green cellary
we would not soon choose to depart.