if you were always working
your flimsy intelligence
to the breaking-point, if you told
your gaunt-faced clairvoyant
to see and not speak?
In any case, you had quickly learned,
over the past few hours,
what she was supposed to say:
“The results, far beyond our reach,
can keep themselves to themselves.”
Even so, you felt impelled
to breathe in bright little specks
of dangerous information,
to have your tremulous mind
surrender to the constant
elaborations of trees,
which, it is said, is the oldest energy.
Like a hand in service of its
accompanying glove, you looked up,
awkwardly caught within
the walls of a remembered
connection, a sure sign
that a gravelled narrative was afoot.
To will the spontaneous event,
you were impulsively
cutting into the glue
that mixed up word and thing
so that there could be a dramatic,
almost fatal commerce between them.
At least somewhere
there was light
being bewildered by shade.
In the end, you were inclined
to follow a tricky declivity
so that the figurative could slide
into the nowhere of fact,
so that, without your knowing it,
the secret history of yourself
could be found and unfastened.
[Note: This poem comes from a sequence which grew out of a 2013 National Poetry Month initiative sponsored by the Found Poetry Review. Entitled “Pulitzer Remix,” this online and ephemeral project entailed 85 poets posting new poems every day based on the language of the 85 books which have won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. After volunteering to participate, I was assigned Booth Tarkington’s Alice Adams (1921), a comedic novel of manners set in the Midwest. I proceeded to craft a 30-part long poem, whose words, with no exception, were derived from Tarkington’s book, and all of the 30 sections of this sequence were composed daily throughout the 30 days of April. The sequence became, in essence, a document of my life as I lived it in April 2013 through the obsessive reading, re-reading, and remixing of a single book, an experiment of what happens when a life makes poetry, at least the writing of it, a priority for 30 continuous days despite all else.
Many of the poems from this sequence (not including this one) are collected in my chapbook Fruits and Flowers and Animals and Seas and Lands Do Open (2015), which was the winner of the 2014 Burnside Review Chapbook Contest: <http://burnsidereview.org/fruits-flowers-animals-seas-land-open/.]