Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gab, Limit’d

Leaf Debris


Ointment in the dog’s ear, antibiotic caplet the size of a kidney bean plunged down the dog’s throat. Nap. Dump in a load of clothes, dark-color’d only. Boy’s all-cotton black sweater drying flat, arms comic-akimbo. A world of nouns, one thinks, inconsequent and unmouth’d without the blunt anima of the I inserting itself like a tongue, to stir things up. Call it abject lyricism, putting oneself forth in lieu of form’s formality. In Karl Marx’s London of 1849, fifty-four signatory X’s (pronounced I’s): “Sur,
We beg and beseech proteckshion
And power. We are Sur,
Living in a Wilderniss, we
Live in muck and filthe.
We aint got no privez,
No dust bins, no drains,
No water splies, and no
Drain or suer in the
Whole place. The Suer Company,
In Greek Street, all great
Rich and powerfool men, take
No notice watsomedever of our
Complaints. The Stenche of a
Gully-hole is disgustin. We
Al of us suffer, and
Numbers are ill, and if
The Colera come Lord help—”
And still the dunning creditors come, the clothes in hock, the lights doused, the food scraps and remnants, and one of the kids’d displace herself unhesitatingly to the stoop and yell: “Mr. Marx ain’t upstairs.” Thrips and cutworms, wasps and centipedes, the plot is simple: get or get got. The world is a verb, and the sun intelligence itself.

Noting what look’d like crocuses, lavender, upspringing out in the cold. Is it a false bloom, trigger’d by seasonal myopia? (Probably a mimic-crocus.) Thoreau: “With man all is uncertainty. He does not look forwardly to another spring. But examine the root of the savory-leaved aster, and you will find the new shoots, fair purple shoots, which are to curve upward and bear the next year’s flowers, already grown half an inch or more in earth. Nature is confident.” Nature’s confidence: found in incessancy, the leaf-hoppers springing earthward off the scuppernongs, the fine muslin bags tied around the buds. Citational gab. Inability to focus. Long period of flipping through Felisberto Hernández’s Piano Stories looking for a particularly stunning line: something like “I heap’d up all my memories on top of my head like extra clothes.” That stops me dead.

Felisberto Hernández, 1902-1964