- Unsurprisingly to me, I love the late Sonatas best.
- Walter invited us over, he wanted to see us before he dies.
- It's us or them.
- Lordy, people (a) watch 60 Minutes and (b) are surprised 60 Minutes ran a positive promo for NSA and (c) are outraged by positive promo?
- The kiss.
- New Inquiry's Sunday reads.
- The madness of the planets.
- Peaches particularly admires Anne Carson.
- a wonder of indifferent efficiency.
- Report from a Pere Ubu home concert. $1000, those of you who've been in my house can vouch that the big room, with Earthgirl's studio for a balcony, would be excellent, all I need do is get past the mortification I would feel as a slurpy fanboy so I can start soliciting attendees.
THE POEM OF THE LITTLE HOUSE AT THE CORNER OF MISAPPREHENSION AND MARVEL
During Napoleon iii’s coup d’état one of his officers, Count de Saint-Arnaud, on being informed that a mob was approaching the Imperial Guard, coughed and exclaimed, with his hand across his throat, “Ma sacrée toux! (my damned cough).” But his lieutenant, understanding him to say “Massacrez tous! (massacre them all),” gave the order to fire, killing thousands—needlessly.
“He was mortared to death.”
A pity, how we misspeak and mishear.
—Or “martyred”? Not that/coin-flip/either
makes a difference to the increasingly cooler
downtick of a corpse’s cells. “We heard the crazy mating joy
of the loon across the water.” Yes, but what
do we know, amateurs that we are? Loon, shmoon.
It might have been dying, announcing
its pain in those trilling pennants. It might
have been the girl who was lost in these woods last week
and never found by the volunteer searchers,
it might have been her ghost
with an admonishment. The truth is,
even among ourselves we often can’t distinguish pain
from pleasure, not in our beds, our hearts, the tone
of a poem on the final exam (a coin-toss). A pity, because
we know the urgency of some utterance;
and the intended goodwill of our listening; and
the marvelous basic mechanics of speech,
of lung: 300 million alveoli that, “if spread out flat,”
as my eighth-grade science teacher preened, “would come to
750 square feet, the entire floor space of an average house,”
and she added that tired magic about how atoms
of Julius Caesar and Napoleon and Beethoven did
their fleet anachronistic dance in every inhalation
of ours, although at thirteen I preferred to think
that the atoms of Cleopatra’s body—my Cleopatra,
inflating her see-through empresswear
with husky breaths—commingled with my blood, and also
realized in my own dim way it wasn’t only Einstein,
Shakespeare, Madame Curie populating my oxygen,
but also the smelly and scabby old man
from across the street who’d died last year
when the late-shift ward nurse heard (as she said in her testimony)
“med injection” instead of (as the outgoing
ward nurse told her) “bed inspection”—altogether
an unfortunate example of my theme . . . although
exempla abound, misapprehension
also dancing inside us at the atomic level.
Someone thought the gate was locked, she always locked
the gate in the late afternoon when the haze set down
and the sun for a moment seemed to carmelize the lake top,
so the gate was locked; except that it wasn’t,
and seven days into it nobody’s found the girl
or a scraggle of hair or a single ribbon. I tell you
we’re amateurs, we’re sometimes bungling amateurs,
of the minutiae of our own lives. When I heard the sounds
that gurgled from my chest as my wife was leaving
into the dense, conspiratorial Austin, Texas night,
I couldn’t have said if it was defeat
or relief. She couldn’t have said which one
she’d have been happiest to cause. We only knew
that I’d been wrong at times, and she’d been wrong at times,
and that our total errors, if spread out flat,
become the house we live in. They’re another system
inside us, along with the cardiac and the pulmonary,
they’re moving us toward the horizon line. And when
enough errors accumulate there, that’s what
we call the future. Even now, as you read this,
someone in that unknowable distance
is breathing you in.