What does it mean to write a poem that is angry? Little fox raising a stone to his head-height threatening lords and ladies on the path. This morning I rose into a feeling, a kind of dampness despite the nice weather, a cold dark cloth draped over my head, stuffed in my guts. Last night, in haste, I pulled open a bag of chamomile, spilled its seeds over my cup, drank it anyway, without filter. Nothing angry there. Except my haste was to avoid another feeling. I knew what I was brewing up. Knew what was coming, or wasn’t. What would not. Oh to feel as clear and sharp and sure as I felt overlooking the old streetcars, certain it was a crime to be made to clean up a mess that wasn’t mine—my earliest memory a toddler’s anger, mildly Byronic I sometimes think—the self- importance, someone who doesn’t know the world is any bigger than what he is able to see. Doesn’t understand that the injustice doesn’t extend beyond his self
Helpless I watch the sun trace across the asphalt—my voice speaks when they are sleeping— they do not know why I beg for bread and salt—what feelings are mine and what belongs to them— when I arrived it was without blood of chicken or goat—they did not sprinkle the four corners of this one bedroom— didn’t speak my name or say their prayers— let the dog disturb me in his haste to shout at the glass—he is the only one who knows—snarling, suspicious—the fur raised around his slim neck—should feel instead weight beyond cunning—terror— what he cannot know—what, if abused, could destroy him. Sometimes pain is felt in one place but found elsewhere— sometimes the sun when it moves becomes something living
to reset I used to go to the art gallery, search for a painting that would arrest no specific feeling—I wanted to be either surprised or held I’d carry a little notebook with me and sometimes leave my phone at home or else mostly ignore it or only take pictures—now M wants to go to the art gallery. we all do. I told her this afternoon that I was running towards the blue, an imagined blue screen that hung in front of me like something I would never reach—the Aegean, I said, mourning the dead recast as heroes, or not heroes exactly but figures of tragedy, ancient consequence, betrayed mores—I’d downloaded the audio from a movie that I’d watched the previous night, listened to it with headphones—she said in her next message that my voice sounded different than it did elsewhere— I liked what she said, more alive to itself, something like that—while she searched for the word I thought immediately and without hesitation it was “open” something that in this quarantine I have sometimes struggled to do— tonight I read a book that surprised me, then I got out of bed to fulfill a promise I kept making and breaking—to smoke weed on the back deck let myself feel or concentrate on the action—to take deep and slow breaths back in bed a sound is coming out of my throat except it is noiseless—full and round and like a kiss on the neck
Susan Stewart: “in listening I am listening to the material history your connection to all who have been impressed upon you living or dead, the voice as with the eyes holds the life of the self”—as we move from one app to another you say imagine this is the part where I am inching my chair a little closer, ordering dessert—I have become used to pacing my apartment, dictating to some future version of yourself—maybe like me you play the voice notes several times both because they are long and because it is easy to get lost in the trail of your materiality, caught in your impressions’ grooves—and once sent rarely go back as if what is before us is all that is living, what will be caught and rendered and cut off, mingled with the sound of your dogs coughing, the streetcar, music playing gently in another room— I know these rooms now—the kitchen, the red room, and the bed—Stewart again: “the voice in poetry is the voice of the lover”—she tells a story about a man who smashes rocks on the weekend (amateur geologist) and gases butterflies in cyanide, an unknowing tribute to his grandmother’s lover who in a concentration camp broke rocks and died by gas—how we return to what we don’t even know —what is yours and what doesn’t belong to you—at a funeral a distant uncle or an older second cousin, this was eight or nine years ago, said my voice was like that of a doctor, which I took to mean: cold, circling—a history of this—but now realize he didn’t specify—a voice can mean many things—who did I love, how did it come to me, what was impressed, what was I wrestling with, what did it mean, and what do you hear now
meditating felt like I was pushing through sludge—some final resistance, some difficulty—held in the body but not in the brain, or in the brain but bodily—passing their house, desire to explain— what needs to be explained?—light of the sun on the facing buildings, neighbours passing in and out, with groceries—on the front lawn a sign free, cat deceased—easier to throw out than have to speak to the street, to keep record—what needs to be explained, what needs to illuminated, what needs to be brought—what is the new responsibility, what is carried—how can I be sure that what is called up in me is only muscles or footsteps, vibrations and jarring—something apart from love apart from desire, apart from need? know now I’m drawing a boundary: at the conclusion of this poem whatever it is will be released
day of Zooms—this morning my masked friend in Dubai texts me I join while the timer is already running, her sister paces the backimage going up and down the stairs—then a meeting at noon, where I am forced to confirm the name of an ex’s new partner, so that they can be let in (I am the only one that knows)—we sit in this tight knot (glowing with ringlights the university paid for) her curled hair recently dyed, bearing a lustre both very near and far-seeming—this follows another encounter, in which someone more recent decides that there are to be no more texts or emails between us—gently confirmed in the kitchen, where I wait between meetings—I have to leave the house, am caught in another meeting, informal, the faces on camera today seem faded to a Daguerrotype’s field—we are all swimming in this gloom, I say that if I took off my headphones my brain would leak out, but perhaps a better word is vaporize—briefly I watch the roommate of someone more recent still disappear into a cloud of viscera—the opening scene, these are The Boys and what happens to them, their lovers are turned into rain—I watch no further, leave the house—return and find my heart beating, too quickly—but I still have one more—Google “panic attack” or “anxiety,” write a note to myself: “determine what has me activated”— this room full of objects I am tired of seeing, sprawled and reversed, out of camera and in, the shoebox, the pothos, the bed that I made quickly the papers, the battery charging for the cordless drill, Benjamin’s Arcades, the green light with its new harsh bulb that on camera makes me wonder if I’m sick (perhaps in the room the virus is another object I could comment upon)—what else? pad of paper by my side during this final meeting, mechanical pencil with its failing lead, which I use to write in small letters, “poetry is both experience and escape”—think of God stopping time to let the poet lined up before the firing squad finish his epic, discreetly poetry is a skip or a delay—it is a way of fixing or freezing it is an obsession with light—but what is that? is there a word like vaporize for the attention light has been given by poetry? a man has recently written about his desire to be eradicated by plasma or lasers, to have his ribcage superheated to the temperature used to achieve fusion what kind of light is that? what kind of secret?
turns in the forest—tired of the same loop—the trees shedding their bark, devastated by bore holes decades after it was fashionable—remember stomping here through June & July, talking to you for hours on the phone—we hadn’t figured out that the pronoun no longer belonged to us or at least I hadn’t—once we had tried to clear this patch of land—bridge blocked by fallen trees—paths to nowhere a rotted trunk I push—it topples—early August I was out there with a machete—full of rage—trimming the tree ends—they always brushed us when we passed—remember thinking— boiling—of the two of you—couldn’t let it go—I had grasped too hard—was still grasping—thought that it was mine to keep— somehow lost the blade—flew from my hands—into the deepest muck of the creek—bent low to the water—tried to find it—swished a stick uncertain through the bed of rotted leaves—nothing— called Neil and told him—how poetic—appropriate—a lesson I still needed to learn—hadn’t learned then—still haven’t— now turning back, walking along the frozen creek—find it handle-first in the midst of a bed of weeds—dull blade waving in the air—growing there—must have passed it who knows how many times pull it out—dust off—trace its blade—gently now— in the snow—