Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Ninth Floor, No Hydrants, No Fire Escapes

Blogbud emails last night re: This Heat. I had commented at his place, thanks for reminding me of the band, they had fallen off my playlist. They are fifth or sixth on his Sillyass Desert Island Game, he wanted to mention. I wrote back: Hey, thanks for email. It scares me how much I've forgot. Literally twenty minutes ago I flashed on Thomas Berger's novels, thought, when was the last time anyone thought about.. More often than not I'm glad it's a too full world. That's not true. I'm always glad it's a too full world. As for blegging, verily, what the fuck if it's our hydrant? He wrote back, Verily, yea... hydrantizing and all. Verily, blgglgzng the blgdysfsmmr.


Robert Pinsky

The back, the yoke, the yardage. Lapped seams,
The nearly invisible stitches along the collar
Turned in a sweatshop by Koreans or Malaysians

Gossiping over tea and noodles on their break
Or talking money or politics while one fitted
This armpiece with its overseam to the band

Of cuff I button at my wrist. The presser, the cutter,
The wringer, the mangle. The needle, the union,
The treadle, the bobbin. The code. The infamous blaze

At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven.
One hundred and forty-six died in the flames
On the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes--

The witness in a building across the street
Who watched how a young man helped a girl to step
Up to the windowsill, then held her out

Away from the masonry wall and let her drop.
And then another. As if he were helping them up
To enter a streetcar, and not eternity.

A third before he dropped her put her arms
Around his neck and kissed him. Then he held
Her into space, and dropped her. Almost at once

He stepped to the sill himself, his jacket flared
And fluttered up from his shirt as he came down,
Air filling up the legs of his gray trousers--

Like Hart Crane's Bedlamite, "shrill shirt ballooning."
Wonderful how the pattern matches perfectly
Across the placket and over the twin bar-tacked

Corners of both pockets, like a strict rhyme
Or a major chord. Prints, plaids, checks,
Houndstooth, Tattersall, Madras. The clan tartans

Invented by mill-owners inspired by the hoax of Ossian,
To control their savage Scottish workers, tamed
By a fabricated heraldry: MacGregor,

Bailey, MacMartin. The kilt, devised for workers
To wear among the dusty clattering looms.
Weavers, carders, spinners. The loader,

The docker, the navvy. The planter, the picker, the sorter
Sweating at her machine in a litter of cotton
As slaves in calico headrags sweated in fields:

George Herbert, your descendant is a Black
Lady in South Carolina, her name is Irma
And she inspected my shirt. Its color and fit

And feel and its clean smell have satisfied
Both her and me. We have culled its cost and quality
Down to the buttons of simulated bone,

The buttonholes, the sizing, the facing, the characters
Printed in black on neckband and tail. The shape,
The label, the labor, the color, the shade. The shirt.


  1. My "Sillyass Desert Island Game," izzit? FYI, even though I do have my corral of artists, records & whatnot that most irreparably warped my aesthetic sensibilities for life, I usually don't do the ranking/listing thing. Too pointless an exercise, because it's too often subject to change & shiftage over time...too much provisionality involved. But no matter, wgaf.

    Plus, if I ever found myself on a desert island I probably wouldn't be sitting around grooving on tunes. Morelike I'd be trying to figure out the basics of daily survival, and cursing the part of my youth when I was such a lazy-ass Cub Scout that I got booted out of the troop.

    But, anyway: Since I've probably neglected to say it on past occasions, thanks for the linkage(s).

  2. You're welcome. Good stuff recently per usual.

    Local classical musical station in DC used to have a regular Saturday night program where the host would interview a soloist or conductor who would choose five pieces of music they'd want if stranded on a deserted island. Trope took hard in me, though that's most likely because I was waiting for it when it found me.