1,310 Readings

April 17, 2013

What difference would it make

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/.]

Posted 03/20/15
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