Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What Comes Next

The Makings

The hideous blank
Of a morning’s
Skiff of snow
Scumbling out any
Outline, and edge.
Everything bulks intrepid
And vaguely herbaceous,
A car mastodon-
Like, cumbersome with
Frowse and lost
Grace. That telephone
Pole with its
Lines sagging under
Grease-weight of
Snow: ‘a great
Fruz-tower and
A fat amber-
Necklace,’ is how
Congreve rptd. it
Somewhere. The electricians
(Pulling up out
By the loading
Dock where I
Chain my bicycle—
It’s unloading that
I see there
Mostly) unpack tools,
Strap leather belts
Up under mid-
Riff sags, there’s
A music to
All motion, muscularly
Inscript’d, the way
The fingers clench
A pencil, sense
Itself ‘shewn’ by
The disagreeablenesses of
Invention. The scroll
Is formatting itself,
The music, too,
Is a farce
Of invincibility, stuff’d
To the gills
Of its makeshift
Necessity, humming whilst
It goes, clove
To a brash
Choral redundancy, flourishing
And restrain’d (a
Pinch’d off sprig
Of gillyflower). The
Sole obstacle is
The unnamable, that
Vague consistency mid-
Brain, not exactly
A clot, too
Stringy and astringent,
In the pottage.
A mucilage or
A mucous—somehow
Not unlike okra’s
Beneficent alluvial glutin,
A slimey coagulant
Attempting to sing
Out its untemper’d
Ferocious name, isn’t
That exactly what
Every writing does?
A resurgence of
Circumstance cartwheels in
Off the blood-
Soak’d echt prairies
Where history lies
Contrary to sophistry’s
Chant a fixèd
Point, uncaught by
Slippage and drift.
Song that, mayhem,
Song that. So
Unboundedness catches in
Its throat, and
The music goes
Bashful mid-bash.

Continuing the fiction that I am pointing myself in the direction of (tying myself to the railroad tracks of) a longer piece—though maybe I’m just morning-riffing and the industry’ll go for naught. “Naught,” a poem. I read another splurge of Mark Scroggins’s ever-terrific and beauteously-writ The Poem of a Life: A Biography of Louis Zukofsky (Shoemaker & Hoard, 2007)—it’s probably becoming all too evident what a terribly slow reader I am, or how I lurch about not altogether willingly (think of the brain-box as a miniature handball court, a jeu de paume wherein the impressionists used to reside, a human-scale place) whilst reading anything. That song about “losing oneself in a book”? Nunh-unh. It’s a jittery compelling world, one of solenoid pop and ricochet and number-tumblers and bells. One emerges scathed and dizzy and plangent. Unfocus’d as a plant. Enough for now.

Kids in the Town of Latta, (Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, 1947)