"Passing the lamplit leaves I knew I was different
from them as our skins were different in an empire
that boasted about its hues, in a New England

that had raked the leaves of the tribes into one fire
on the lawn back of the carport, like dead almond
leaves on a beach, and I saw the alarmed pale look

when I stepped out of a streetlight, that a woman
gave me at a bus-stop, straight out of Melville's book;
then the consoling smile, like a shark's, all the fear

that had widened between us was incurable,
as cold as the edge of autumn in the night air
whose leaves rustled the pages of Melville's Bible."

{ Derek Walcott }


Since the machine does offer that illusion of freedom, the inclination to write, dissolve (dissolute) anger, confusion, air paranoia, submit lines for perusal, announcement contours. When the light has glowed on fall trees as it did this morning (after the car was hit by a truck leaving South Station, a "broadside" scrape cracking the back hazard light, still hanging) in a wash of yellows and orange, marvelous browns and just now, this evening running under trees, around the resevoir for intervals. I'll vote tomorrow and because of the bad news in Venezuela I'll expect bad news here as well.

But it will more or less remain the same, other conduits and fewer words to "publish" because Mallarmé first spoke more than a decade ago and Valéry, even better. His notebooks a treasure to hold temporarily, bound and belonging to the library, there's not enough room on my shelves. Partly what appeals to me about Omeros is the regularity of the lines, their stubborn repetition. Along with Walcott's comment one afternoon in class: "You know, he was the outcast, the Latino. The one that people ignored." Miguel Piñero on those five minutes at Naropa in the late 1970s, more brilliant than most would care to notice. Hip hop America.

Stayed up late last night writing the Harris essay, perhaps they'll publish it. How do you write about his ventures in quantum poetics without drifting into esoteric mumblings, all pleasure in the murmur? The moments in Ruby In Paradise when she writes in her journal at the kitchen table, the light off the Gulf through her trailer park windows, related to that black & white spray onto three figures arrived from Cleveland, New York and Hungary. Ramelzee, with the money, notices her hat and hands over the bills that will take one of them back to Budapest.

Which turns this towards S. and his tale of hiking out of Hungary over the mountains into Italy with several friends and a backpack, into a refugee camp in Rome in the late 1980s. At his elementary and high school the placards hailed Marx, Lenin & so forth, all such dross. The same hypocrisy one finds here and yet so few will admit that parallelism between empires. When we were neighbors in Palma Ceia he had joked about my beard, after I had shaved it for a job cleaning off tables in the Jewish deli we both worked at: "Beards are for revolutionaries, anyways." A certain disdain or weariness in his words, having had enough of those routines years ago. It took me too long to figure that out.

A poem written for A. in the notebook, for the future. J. says to write it so that he will know whatever it is we are inhabiting as I write, this currency born of fear. The tercets mingle tonic and remind me of the runner's tread, stay with it, let your breath guide you. It really is best to dissolve the machine and let the fingers automatize themselves. Brown fingers on winter keys, late Autumn after Indian summer, based on specific texts (for instance, Bhabha's The Location of Culture, which has been reissued for its 10th anniversary, or his unpublished lecture on "DuBois Du Monde," from Springfield to Ghana), their accumulation. How to build and manage a library, speak through others, a collector, silent kid, no one to remind you.

No comments: