Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Clark Coolidge’s This Time We Are Both

A Wall

Rain. Bicycle tire flat. “Genial denial.” Clark Coolidge: “So must have it that / the art hang in dirt strips / a black sulfur liner nightmare at the lost steps . . .” One thinks vaguely of a morning without. Walking in the downpour: only the drench’d starlings continue the twees. And a chipping sparrow, its dry trill. Coolidge: “Stub he / it’s gone / and the air is marked with a question point . . .” Bags of peat moss and topsoil under tarps in the parking lot at Jack’s, is it Jack’s? Next to the sushi joint. Where the gas station-turn’d pizza delivery shack tacks down the acute angle made by the forking street, bi-approachability a plus. Coolidge:
Horse clops should come with these trolley joint torques
a viable leaning in the morning tin is to wait by it, not for it
jump across tunnels in the darkening air, the steel of a sort of
clam it seems, I look under arm to catch what swings . . .
I like how pliably apropos Coolidge’s phrasals be, in the grand re-purposing. How, like any “sound” particular, they get under the general sonic backdrop, and bleat impermeably. Indelible noise: the definition of “voice.” (What Pound says in “A Retrospect”: “There is . . . in the best verse a sort of residue of sound which remains in the ear of the hearer and acts more or less as an organ-base.”) I am just browsing through This Time We Are Both (Ugly Duckling, 2010), notes and sequences made following “the itinerary of the Rova Saxophone Quartet tour of November 1989: Leningrad, Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn, Tartu, and Moscow.” Epigraph’d (below the Marker and the Lautréamont) by Ashbery (“The Preludes”): “Over near somewhere else there is the problem of the difficulty.” A line that manages the same sort of vacillating signal that Rimbaud’s Je est un autre clangs out into the languorous instability: here direct’d into the distance where difficulty “lies.” Coolidge:
Just do
one pair of the many thing
or end up let to
the further place where pulse and choice do go
the openers put their own limits
then if you can get beyond
fine, the materials go

I’d love to get beyond fine
to frame all this in its zone of force free
these the Impedimenta of Protected Scratch . . .
Rimbaud’s “Too bad for the wood that finds itself a violin” is probably pertinent. Getting beyond the openers (that “put their own limits”—the constantly narrowing syntactical trap of sentence-ry): even the obligatory jump-cut bouleversement and cabriole that lands one “off” never suffices for long . . . Coolidge’s repeat’d attempts to dodge the knowing that cannot “stop being here”: “We go, so it’s not here / we left much of an else to the road, going / up to this it goes off with us . . .” Or:
I know the lines
I just can’t sign to this ceiling
a tin vintner and rubber syrups, miraculous
how much blowing can stop, I signed myself out
the way of the rusted soups, the marriage of whole fields
to a can of beans, for example needed trial
then siphoned camphor into a glare, but do I know
enough to stop being here?
The answer of music (“blowing”). The answer of naming (the vaguely Eliotic incursion of “Streets, these that lose to dazedly open space? / made up however to someone else’s measure . . .”), that perennial demiurge, reliably prevaricate. So one learns of “Liar Farm” and “the Centrifugal Ball of the Fire Berries,” of a place call’d “Doubt in Full” and one call’d “The Silicone and Graphite Hotel,” of “the Sound of Ragout Reveal” and “Uncle Ink” and “Parenthesis Vodka.” Here, to end, a fleet Kerouack’d bop prosodic beginning with a sort of eked out Buddhist correspondence (with its “linchpin severity” of gull and stocking), going through the utopic jazz nod (what concord’s unison begat), and outing with some possibly “misunderapprehended / Time Was” (an Emily Post ostranenie moment):
Gull drawn in
red wheels
dawn beyond
hung stockings

Seize you in hours, thigh zone gauze complete
street about the car start, a dense trance Baluga
or a Moriarty extent committing
something something expendable
this nodule boot bucket chance of barest Russia

What you had been thinking about a whistle blew shrilly
where the western hem line is a lettuce signal
got a trade without a sample
mule jumped on veins in your screening permit
signed, Thorstein Veblen
signed, Henry Threadgill

There is no space, there is nothing
old stone towers, spacings of windows in walls
dug samples of harm on the average, horn in
thoughts to buy
at Braxton’s Thump, where I thought the red line jumped back
where I thought of the union of throttle union and throttle unison
sat in his room and thought about his trees
up above his thoughts bebop, salt
and what could have been the thought lesson for this grace?
before the attitudes came down, before the paper town lasting
thoughts that know not but the joy of case
bummers in strings that his ace travels well
in case in keeping
these thoughts I hoped
I hadn’t misunderapprehended
Time Was

Some tables
prepared to look away
from all angles, some tables
prepared to listen to
themselves then yell, no doubt
some mostly don’t, these tables tasks
for a supper prepared as if on Mars
I love that “thoughts that know not but the joy of case / . . . / in case in keeping . . .” The dub impossibility of inflect’d lingual blowing (against the sweet vagaries of the uninflect’d earth). So blow one must.

Clark Coolidge