Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lapping Like a Cloak of Chaos


Thom Gunn

The snail pushes through a green
night, for the grass is heavy
with water and meets over
the bright path he makes, where rain
has darkened the earth’s dark. He
moves in a wood of desire,

pale antlers barely stirring
as he hunts. I cannot tell
what power is at work, drenched there
with purpose, knowing nothing.
What is a snail’s fury? All
I think is that if later

I parted the blades above
the tunnel and saw the thin
trail of broken white across
litter, I would never have
imagined the slow passion
to that deliberate progress.

I was going to write about standard shit, but fuck that. I was going to write about my baseball apostasy seventeen years ago after thinking about the death of Earl Weaver and the rise of the Nationals and the return of baseball itches, and double-fuck that. I was going to write about my neverending years at Blegsylvania's Stringtown Junior High School, and triple-fuck that. I was going explore in some detail the phenomenon that setting up a what-the-fuck second blog diminishes what-the-fuckness there, increases it here (which is the why I set up these off-shore what-the-fuck laundromats), but quadruble (sic) fuck that. I was going to mention that blogging the middle day of a three day weekend which happens to be Helmetball's biggest day of the year is quintuply stupid, and I just did. I do want to say that when blogfriend and fellomocomofo Jim (@UOJim) tweeted (he has a blog but only posts when on post-surgery narcotics, which, fortunately for him, unfortunately for us, is very infrequently and hopefully stays that way): Sad a fine poet died of substance abuse, but impressed despite myself Thom was doing meth at age 75. I panicked, rushed to wikipedia, I was sure January 19 wasn't Gunn's birthday, confirmed it isn't, then tweeted back: January 19 is Thom Gunn Appreciation Day? What a fucking dope on so many fucking levels. I responded weakly to Jim's kind poke of doh: Ah. And everyday is Thom Gunn Appreciation Day. Though everyday is Thom Gunn appreciation day, so Thom Gunn poems and songs. But yes, you can have some links: Enough-is-enoughism. Fighting the scourge of giant marshmallows. If true, credit due? Boatload of links. Hitchens: from socialist to neo-con. Is Jon Steward turning on his fan base? Wanna go for a walk? Fresh and vacuum-packed. Chatter Tones. darkblack's Weekend Overnight. Yo La Tengo setlist, w/video, includes new Grateful Dead cover!


Thom Gunn

One by one they appear in
the darkness: a few friends, and
a few with historical
names. How late they start to shine!
but before they fade they stand
perfectly embodied, all

the past lapping them like a
cloak of chaos. They were men
who, I thought, lived only to
renew the wasteful force they
spent with each hot convulsion.
They remind me, distant now.

True, they are not at rest yet,
but now they are indeed
apart, winnowed from failures,
they withdraw to an orbit
and turn with disinterested
hard energy, like the stars.


Thom Gunn

He died, and I admired
the crisp vehemence
of a lifetime reduced to
half a foot of shelf space.
But others came to me saying,
we too loved him, let us take you
to the place of our love.
So they showed me
everything, everything--
a cliff of notebooks
with every draft and erasure
of every poem he
published or rejected,
thatched already
with webs of annotation.
I went in further and saw
a hill of matchcovers
from every bar or restaurant
he'd ever entered. Trucks
backed up constantly,
piled with papers, and awaited
by archivists with shovels;
forklifts bumped through
trough and valley
to adjust the spillage.
Here odors of rubbery sweat
intruded on the pervasive
smell of stale paper,
no doubt from the mound
of his collected sneakers.
I clambered up the highest
pile and found myself
looking across not history
but the vistas of a steaming
range of garbage
reaching to the coast itself. Then
I lost my footing! and was
carried down on a soft
avalanche of letters, paid bills,
sexual polaroids, and notes
refusing invitations, thanking
fans, resisting scholars.
In nightmare I slid,
no ground to stop me,

until I woke at last
where I had napped beside
the precious half foot. Beyond that,
nothing, nothing at all.

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