of neighbours and pumpkins
and sweeties, private kisses, sky
and wonderful, superstitionsto begin the day, knocking on
wood, rhythmically, musicalbreakfasts, soft, boiled,
toasted with currents, intimatewandering of questions and belief,
the thin skin wanders the adventureof clothes-off-clothes-on, and
Mattress Mary, across Rock Creek,out of bounds, summers
There's stuff here about which I wonder whether it belongs: "and Mattress Mary, across Rock Creek"? Could the poem do better without it? (By the way, there are no stanza breaks -- somehow the encoding included them, and I can't get rid of them.)
Many of Blaser's poetic clusterings are gathered under abstract titles: Belief, Anecdote, Romance, The Soul, Desire. Here's The Soul, another poem I enjoyed. Curious that it also features windows and summers.
This poem is particularly successful because it cleverly invokes an heraldic notion of "soul"-- flashing wings, borne aloft -- as locus of being, the "there-it-is", gliding artfully among the flotsam. (On Explorer I discover the stanza breaks -- every two lines or so, are lost: best to look at this post through Firefox.)The Soul
someday, the windows the transparency
screams open and zippers
the last minute -- processions -- marriages --
meetings such rainbows or corners
raindrops--the sound of--which
winds slap or wander
solitude perfect agreement
take it this way or that way
upwards and downwards, sideways
reminders of rivers, streets,
sidewalks, the pathways
of whatever form, reforming
a definition backward and outward
of this misnomer--
there it wings, homing, dim
or not, flashes, caught, and
a slip of a thing, in and out,
statues and stillness, walks easily
the thigh of the things, between things, golden
surfaces swim, collecting
the depths and inevitable summers of
Pell Mell is a good title for a collection of such joyful skitterings among seeming (and frequently not-so-seeming) non-sequiturs. These have been amassed with all his other poems into a larger vision called "The Holy Forest", an impressive tome published just last year. (I wasn't convinced enough to shell out for it, but I might...) On stage Blazer was warm but humble presence, if at times too soft-spoken for that microphone. A couple of times a member of the audience served us all by asking to repeat a poem that was just barely audible the first time.
Phil Hall was a good poet to pair up with Blaser, because he is also cerebral and very quirky, but if anything intenser, darker, and given to offbeat and sometimes genuinely funny wordplay. Consider these lines he read from his newly published "White Porcupine" :
self-sufficiency is the worst crime
if what I have to say seems unconnected -- wider!
there is a further from lies than truth
I begged for this fresh day
to run as I have others -- a day that is already a day
to bend out of its spelling into yada yada
the landscape is lined up around the block
to get in to see The Landscape: A Wire Circus
bare coat-hangers tossing their horse heads
triangulating closet leagues & fathoms
giving their harness-bells a shake
where has it gone she gone he gone?
no one humiliates the dead (yeah right)
Perhaps to the uninitiated these lines seem remote, but now I can't read them without remembering Hall's superb reading of them. Hall performed these lines so well -- with the edgiest of inflections and pregnant pauses -- that he had the audience quite cracking up, particularly at the word "wider!": he exclaimed it, jerking his hands apart to make it clear that was urging himself and the reader to be even more disconnected. This singular sense of "wider" is not that obvious on the page, where it could be taken as simply an additional and alternative adjective to "disconnected". (Even that exclamation point doesn't quite make the point.) I should add that Hall's high-pitched voice sharpens those points, and is pretty well perfect for what he has to deliver.
Both Blaser and Hall play with abstractions and arbitrary inclusion in a fashion that goes quite against the grain of what I was saying in the foregoing post on craft, which was, essentially, interrogate those loose ends ruthlessly, cut 'em out. Refreshing and even illuminating that these poets also succeed, in their ways, so well.