A poem for record players

I'm honored to find that Jacinta Escudos has written the first review of my Caracas Notebook at her blog. She notes that portions of my texts and my sister's photographs remind her of the San Salvador of her childhood, the conflicted ties one can have with the idea of home. Jacinta's blog is one of the reasons I appreciate the internet, her prose a model of what the Spanish language can enact, whether in her fiction or her autobiographical ruminations and literary criticism.


In some ways, the iPod can be for a poet what the radio was for Orpheus in Cocteau's film. I think of this in relation to how John Wieners begins The Hotel Wentley Poems (which I've just re-read today in the marvelous pirate edition recently published in Boston by Joy Street Press):

All dull details
I can only describe to you,
but which are here and
I hear and shall never
give up again, shall carry
with me over the streets
of this seacoast city,
forever; oh clack your
metal wings, god, you are
mine now in the morning.
("A poem for record players")

One hovers and thrives around certain texts, for years and years. When I read Wieners I'm returned to the Athenaeum library in Providence, where I checked out his Selected Poems in 1996. I had read him before then, but for some reason it wasn't until that moment that I suddenly realized the allegiance I feel toward his work.

What sparked me to find his books in the library was a brief exchange I had with a customer when I worked at the (now defunct) College Hill Bookstore. A Brown undergrad came in looking to see if we had any books by Wieners. We didn't carry them so he decided to put in a special order, which I wrote up for him. Unlike so many Brown undergrads who came into the store, he was polite and unpretentious. With his long brown hair and serious expression, he somehow reminded me of myself or my brother. The exchange probably lasted about 10 minutes and I never saw him again. In 2000 I came across his obituary. He had died from a heroin overdose in New York, just barely out of college. His name was Raphael de Rothschild, part of the famous family. His query that evening, for whatever reason, made me go to the library that week and check out Selected Poems: 1958-1984. I'm grateful to him for having led me, unknowingly, to the poems of John Wieners.

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