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Currently Reading: Heart-close, Widespread in Place and Time

Marvin Bell’s Lost Horse Press, New Poets Series, New Poets: Short Books: Volume V with Valentine Freeman, Robert Peake, and Jensea Storie (Lost Horse Press, 2011) p. 42, from Robert Peake‘s Small Gestures:

Forgive me, rose petals, my fingers
could not resist the habit of plucking.

Some would call it childish, and those
who waggle a shaming finger know best.

I do not own my hands but slip into them
each morning like a pair of work gloves.

I break up the stiffness and they crackle

I’ve read his prose but rarely had a chance to see his poems and its lovely to get another cluster of them that have room enough to move and make some of the wider gestures they like to do, exploring the air for meaning.

dennis cooley, correction line (thistledown press, 2008), p. 37, Clarence:

Oh I fell here last summer july was it all the goldang
foolishness had to laugh though it was kinda funny used to laugh
at everybody else theyre goin down here goin down there fallin
like blue spruce in a lumber camp no sense to it somethin wrong with
them they should know better guy cant keep his feet should be
goin down the road how the hell can you fall and break your hip.

dunno what happened bun putterin around in the garden on the
back 40 back there one day and was bringin in some carrot bam
Im down down I go on the back step doing the barnyard polka jean
says you comin in or goin out or what.

I did not I said will you close the door.

Close the door close the door did not woman you said get in
or get out only dont leave the door open christ as it is Im swingin
from the handle like a broken kite I cant let go of the goddam
door if my life depends on it never felt it at first must of passed out
but boy oh boy did she hit me close the door close the door and
me Im so goddam mad they could have put me away the whole
shootin works right then and there.

Well, galdernit, I can hear my old neighbourhood. There aren’t really geographies, only similar economies. It is that relentless run on sentence that I can hear the syntax in. I must say “must of” gave a little spurt of pleasure. I remember a year of impasse of primary school, one classmate insisting on that being what is said and the teacher correcting to “must have”, both adamant and deadlocked.

Does the transcription feel as honorable and as heart-crashingly tragic to everyone, that old man’s insistence on making the control of a story of his impossible body bucking up like that. He’d cuff it for that bit of nonsense but it wouldn’t do a whit of good. Everyone knows people who enter hospitals never come back quite the same. An ambulance is a rush with death.

Jane Munro’s Active Pass (Pedlar Press, 2010), title poem, from section 12, p. 26:

She lectured me, “You’ll never be beautiful,
but you can always be nice.”

I recall human fat — pale, dimpled —
in a jar on a shelf at St. Paul’s hospital.

So what’s left to eat? Iceberg lettuce?
Death’s keel, my stabilizer.

A bird’s flight through the banquet hall.
Out the other door. Gust of cold.

What I didn’t know was closed begins to open.
A small wind pushes the heart ajar.

KaDo Ottawa: A reading by members: printed on the occasion of VERSeFest Ottawa. (KaDo, 2011)

   having missed the bus
I walked
           into spring

Marianne Bluger

A retrospective chapbook of a decade of broadsheets and gathering members present and passed on into a few short glances with a history of the group.

Richard Greene’s Boxing the Compass (Signal Editions, 2009), p. 67

In the Great Hall of Union Station,
under the Canal Street Doors, I sit
on a pew in a tempe whose worship
is movement. All over the continent
stations from the twenties speak in marble
to the will of steam over distance.

His book I browsed a couple times, including when the gg tour came thru town in November but getting to sit back for the storytelling in a dark theatre as his voice drops them was the sort of sit that could let me hear them. This is what I saw and a nice turn of phrase to make the stories sweeter. A compassionate eye for the life travellers.

Somehow that observing eye that has a kind heart attached goes further for me than great synapsing wonders that come down great language but messed up human. Why would one want to spend time with a trainwreck of a personality when reading. I’ve never understood this. But then I’m not much for roller coasters, thrills, chills, horrors, etc.

William Langland’s Piers Plowman, Passus III when Conscience pleads to the King

Meed will no longer hold sway as she now does, but love, humility and loyalty together will be in charge, so that honesty and truth may be properly protected. And if anyone offends against Truth, he will feel the force of law at the hands of Honest Fidelity and no one else. The day is approaching when no barrister will earn enough to afford a silken coif or a fur cloak for doing his job of pleading at the Bar!

This is going so much faster in modern English translation. In a way it was easier to read slowly with the extended sections in that allegorical double-language and with so many characters. It’s like Shakespeare in a sense of how much to keep in working memory yet feels contemporary. Language and location and century may change but humans are one creature.

Ben Ladouceur, self-portrait as the bottom of the sea at the beginning of time (Moose & Pussy, 2011),

empty whales
continue to descend

their eyeballs and entrails
having been slurped

some nautilus thrive in their nautilusdom
others don’t

evolve their shells off, demand new names

Such fun play of sounds with nautilusdom and the mix of language. Something distinct and uncommon in the choice to look at time on scale of the food chain making a dead whale disappear agains the scale of evolution. I only sat up and paid attention at VERSeFest to hear his words on the air.

I’ve heard people saying how impressive he was as a wordsmith and after his reading it made me go back to Ottawater 7.0 and look again at his Suffolk poems,

Suffolk is where winds come to die
winds mount the channel straight from the Alps
and realize this county is as good a place as any
we used to mourn them now we don’t even feel them

And there was one about the land being so flat that the only curve is that of the earth and the marvel of resting birds out of sight.

Lyn Hejinian’s The Language of Inquiry (University of California Press, 2000), The Rejection of Closure, p.55

Even words in storage, in the dictionary, seem frenetic with activity, as each individual entry attracts to itself other words as definition, example, and amplification.

The text is such a strange mix on me. My resistance pops up everywhere (like the Shatner-directed movie where the faces pop up like paper dolls in space) when it comes to anything academic and linguistics. If I agree with or already knew, I resist. If I don’t agree with and don’t know I resist. Playing dodgeball with myself; it breaks out in the middle of a game of chess. Can’t take myself anywhere.

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