Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Yesterday at Stewart Park Sadie
slipped off a little merry-go-round and
caught her heel on the stirrup: she seems
fine but she’s not walking much so now
she’s with Emily being looked at by Fred
the chiropractor we’re hoping nothing serious
but it could be a hairline fracture or inflammation
and Emily who was watching her feels
terrible about it: kids fall down
get bruises scrapes bump their heads even
break limbs we have to figure for ourselves
the boundary between proper care
and a wild or subtle exaggeration of the world’s dangers
which could as they say scar her for life
transfer wholesale our own timidities remnants
of our own sheltered suburban childhoods:
sure we turned out okay but you
always want better for your kids, so I
want her to be braver stronger smarter
than me, more adventurous, a real xeno-
philiac, and yet if I get my wish
I’ll spend the rest of my life wincing
as she climbs trees and rocks, kisses
girls and boys, gets a tattoo and moves
to Shanghai to work on the stock exchange
there or studies ballet or becomes a singer-
songwriter, I can’t decide which
would be worse or more glorious proof
that she’s alive, a human life, owing more
than I’ll feel and less than I’ll believe
to my own life, our lives. In Gimme!
on State Street this Sunday morning
with its orange-red color scheme, I wrote
most of my dissertation here, I’ve got
a couple of hours to fiddle with my novel
and read a little more Badiou or Ammons
before meeting E and S for lunch:
got my protagonist to the next step finally
but one thing I’m mulling is how to convey
that a protagonist is all he is: I’m trying
to write his sections like watching a film
underscoring how minimal an audience’s needs
can be in terms of identification how little
they/we need “character”; yet realism I find
is a constant temptation to be resisted
with all my powers and yet realism
intrudes constantly, governs my sense of space
and how people should talk to each other
and what motivates them, I may not have
the tools of experimental fiction ready to hand:
poetry has trained me primarily to be receptive
and my flaw as a reader has been a too-
ready acceptance of whatever’s before me:
I just like words, especially words that have the property
of remaining words and not fading
to transparent meaning, which means I’ll happily indulge
almost any sort of nonsense, saving my most scathing
criticism and revulsion
for what seems trite, overfamiliar, sentimental, innocent
of competing discourses or even its own traditions
so I’m attracted to what most people wouldn’t even
consider to be literature and repelled
by what most people do consider
which etymologically and incidentally
has the literal meaning of “with
the stars”: consider is a remnant astronomy
a willingness to discover constellations,
human patterns of meaning in a sky
which conditions the human without itself
being so conditioned: imaginary reciprocity
is nine-tenths of the law, I’d like to say,
that determines how most of us feel
on the planet, like we belong here, there’s some history
to our being here that makes it hard to consider
our not being here: some part carries on,
that seems so reasonable even though it’s not.
Posters on the wall here for plays: Dirty
Blonde by Claudia Shear and He Who
Says Yes / He Who Says No by Bertoldt
Brecht to be performed at a middle school apparently:
that’s Ithaca all over, as are these band
names: Baby Gramps, The Pacemaker, Dufus,
Djug Django’s “Acoustic Gypsy Swing,”
Lost Sailors, The Horse Flies, Madd
Daddy, Honey Tribe. Used to go hear Djug
Django with Emily down at Moosewood (don’t
eat there, stick with the cookbooks)
on Monday evenings: have a glass of wine
and listen, our lives were just as preoccupying
then but in retrospect much simpler is that
how it’s gonna be, an endless ramifying
and more complicated life, always moving
away from simplicity toward an immersion
in multiple chaotic systems
that we can hardly discover our own position in
or will there be a corresponding breakdown
and simplification as we approach the finish line
alone in a room waiting for the phone
to ring or just sitting in a warm place in a chair
with eyes closed sun on face breathing the air
by water I hope air’s always better by water
I’ve lived by the Mississippi River and San
Francisco Bay, Lakes Michigan and Cayuga,
the Clark Fork of the Missouri and little streams
of New Jersey I never learned the names of:
ignorance keeps it simple but choosing
simplicity is another matter, takes great wisdom
or audacity to be thoroughly Thoreau: sometimes
I think my life’s mission is to become more comfortable with messiness, no
shortage of that, I spilled my coffee when I sat down
and Sadie’s probably fine still I worry a little
will call Emily to hear about the appointment
and then crack my skull again against philosophy
which by comparison makes poetry
seem as it should be almost as easy as prose.

And let me here addend
the morning’s run
up the South Hill Trail where
a deer and a hare were seen
getting the hell off the path
on the downslope
and small flowers I can’t identify
white to the right and
white-violet to the left.
Continued mild coolness,
sky an ambivalent gray-blue.

No comments:

Popular Posts