Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Banana Peels No One Will Skid On, Apple Cores That Caused Neither the Fall of Man Nor a Theory of Gravitation


Howard Nemerov

A mile out in the marshes, under a sky
Which seems to be always going away
In a hurry, on that Venetian land threaded
With hidden canals, you will find the city
Which seconds ours (so cemeteries, too,
Reflect a town from hillsides out of town),
Where Being most Becomingly ends up
Becoming some more. From cardboard tenements,
Windowed with cellophane, or simply tenting
In paper bags, the angry mackerel eyes
Glare at you out of stove-in, sunken heads
Far from the sea; the lobster, also, lifts
An empty claw in his most minatory
Of gestures; oyster, crab, and mussel shells
Lie here in heaps, savage as money hurled
Away at the gate of hell. If you want results,
These are results.
                          Objects of value or virtue,
However, are also to be picked up here,
Though rarely, lying with bones and rotten meat,
Eggshells and mouldy bread, banana peels
No one will skid on, apple cores that caused
Neither the fall of man nor a theory
Of gravitation. People do throw out
The family pearls by accident, sometimes,
Not often; I’ve known dealers in antiques
To prowl this place by night, with flashlights, on
The off-chance of somebody’s having left
Derelict chairs which will turn out to be
by Hepplewhite, a perfect set of six
Going to show, I guess, that in any sty
Someone’s heaven may open and shower down
Riches responsive to the right dream; though
It is a small chance, certainly, that sends
The ghostly dealer, heavy with fly-netting
Over his head, across these hills in darkness,
Stumbling in cut-glass goblets, lacquered cups,
And other products of his dreamy midden
Penciled with light and guarded by the flies.

For there are flies, of course. A dynamo
Composed, by thousands, of our ancient black
Retainers, hums here day and night, steady
As someone telling beads, the hum becoming
A high whine at any disturbance; then,
Settled again, they shine under the sun
Like oil-drops, or are invisible as night,
By night.
             All this continually smoulders,
Crackles, and smokes with mostly invisible fires
Which, working deep, rarely flash out and flare,
And never finish. Nothing finishes;
The flies, feeling the heat, keep on the move.

Among the flies, the purifying fires,
The hunters by night, acquainted with the art
Of our necessities, and the new deposits
That each day wastes with treasure, you may say
There should be ratios. You may sum up
The results, if you want results. But I will add
That wild birds, drawn to the carrion and flies,
Assemble in some numbers here, their wings
Shining with light, their flight enviably free,
Their music marvelous, though sad, and strange.


  1. It's like PGH and Cleveland. Gaithersburg will always have an inferiority complex about Rockville. Rockville will always have an inferiority complex about itself.

    I too admit my complicity; the annexed property is across the state road from my neighborhood. They will build 110 unneeded housing units there. This will add a FOURTH traffic light to an overstressed quarter mile of road that fronts (sides, actually) a big-ass high school. So that the Johnson family will be able to put more on its ittle bit of undeveloped land than the barbecue truck, flavored ice stand, and produce stand that currently sometimes rent the right to sit there. Gaitherschluss!

    Interesting fact: right after we rode over the humpback in the picture (which is squarely in the city limits of Gaithersburg but 20 feet from the town limits of Washington Grove, speaking of inferiority complexes) on that bus, the bus fell off the bridge and we all died. The End. Fine metaphors abound.

  2. the story about the gaithersburg annexation makes it clear rob wu's fruitless attempt to thwart it mightily annoyed mike sesma, but the issues involved in wu's opposition are not stated - landru's explanation, with his own views clear (and the creative use of the term Gaitherschluss - i very much enjoyed watching part of The Sound of Music sunday night on abc, by the way) makes it sound like a "to build or not to build" situation - which will produce a better long term result, for the most people? i'm sure i don't know

    as will rogers said, we are all ignorant, only on different subjects

    of the various links along the left of the web page, i find myself most interested in reading william astore's "all the president's generals", which i will go to next

  3. Georgia has 159 counties. Second largest in the U.S. after Tejas. Atlanta proper has numerous municipal subdivisions and ~20 counties. There are political reasons for these divisions. OBVS. Don't want our tax monies going to support "those" people in the other part of the county, e.g. Most of the counties themselves are quite rural, with hardly a decent size town whatsoever. Many of them were drawn so white folk could keep separate—racial gerrymandering of a sort. The Atlanta situation means that regional mass transportation that serves multiple counties is nigh-on impossible to achieve because Cobb County, e.g., doesn't want people from lower Fulton or, godfabid, Henry counties to have access to their special little enclave. You get the picture. Don't know why MOCOFO is so divided.

    As to Landru's point, leading up to 2008, many large lots here were clear-cut of trees, plaited for subdivisions or apt complexes. But then when the recession hit—and hit it did—these lots lay empty, many with utility staubs sticking up out of the ground and driveways. Also, strip malls, etc. lay fallow & mostly empty. In the last 3-4 years, though, construction has picked up & they've been building out those empty tracts and the malls have been filling out. They even built the first in-town Walmart not 2 miles from my house. Gack!

    Don't know why I felt like weighing in on this topic I clearly know nothing about. Analogy? Maybe.

    Thanks, as ever, for the linkage!

    Anyway, best of the Holidays to you both!

  4. Here in Tinytown, we have issues around Gentrification but nothing like these kinds of redistricting / land boundings. Sounds like the beginnings of a conflict in the Balkans. And, I'm curious to know Landru's observations on the Afterlife since the tragedy: Is it Bardo-world? Is there acknowledgement that mean girls Do Not rule; is there valet parking, or what?

    Thanks muchly for the Linky.

  5. And too also, since there is no commentatery @vondavidly: Fuck, man; I thought there was only a cat, and some Plutonium, and some Kafkaesque machine in that box!

    1. Der Hund hat's!
      Pluperfektesplutonium: n. a condition too late to do anything but bark about. For the uninitiated or curious cat:

  6. > "...It's excellent from outside,..."

    Looks like it. As far as Brutalist libraries go, it appears far more attractive that, say, the Regenstein on the U. of Chicago campus.

    1. It's Georgetown and DC tradition to rag on it - the outside, student newspapers, City Papers - it was voted some five, ten years ago the ugliest building in DC - and fuck that. It's meant in part to be a 1975 echo of Healey Hall, the famous one with the clocktower, which is right next door, and I think it works. And when you look at it closely - the photo if from underneath faculty carrels that jut out from main building - it does some very interesting things.

      It always sucked inside for natural light, but now it's suckfully obsolete. In theory we're on the next building cycle of the current fundraising hoyathon, but that's not gonna happen.

      When we were visiting colleges w Planet it was remarkable how many libraries at the Liberal Arts schools we visited had Brutalist libraries, all built about same time. I suppose I could research why, but fuck that....

  7. I rather like looking at this building when I sit outside at a cafe across the street:

  8. Little late to chime in, but here's a news item I expect to see: Leader interviews reanimated corpse of Albert Speer for position of Generalbauinspektor. "Like what I'm hearing!" says Leader. "We're gonna build some big things!"