Thursday, November 10, 2011

Max Jacob’s Cuff Links

This is my life, a ghost town on the verge of development. Flowers in a taxi. A headland emerging from the fog. Snow arrives in big white dollars. The water slaps its chaos against the sand. Wherever I look I see the spectral poetry of night, the prodigal poetry of day. It is a disease. Poetry is a disease. The strain of it leaves a stain of enthusiasm in my suede. Circles ripen in mutation. Duality is combustible. I can feel Montana in my shoulder. I can hear Roberta roll the compost bin up the easement.

Is there a glue for sticking daylight to an anchovy? I have carved an alphabet out of Martian air. I have preserved it in a jar. It wiggles around in abstractions of daily existence. The curious history of Max Jacob’s cufflinks serves to demonstrate the grandeur of detail in a simple piece of glass. Moonlight has broken the bottle that I hide inside.

Knock knock knock. I open the door and there stands General Grant. What are you doing here, I ask. He offers me some coffee. He comes inside. We talk about war and death and life and the weird smell of the basement. We are all Greek, he says. We are all involved in an epic struggle, when in fact we are but the puppets of capricious gods.

This is a delinquent logic, I tell him, but true. Years ago I married an asterisk in my search for the ablution of glue. I want things to cohere. I want things to stay together. But they never do.

There is an image in my heart. It is a soccer ball stuck under the tire of a green Volkswagen. I hope the owner of the car will see the ball before they start their car and squish it.

Look: I can do tricks with my wrinkles. One day you will be old too and have wrinkles like me. This is my favorite wrinkle. I pull the rain through the eye of a needle and the overhead fan dances on my spoon. A group of elves shave Elvis. An empty mug surrenders the voice of a skeleton. I hear the crackle and pop of someone opening a package they have just removed from the freezer. I reach around and scratch my back. I get up from my table. I put the sun in my pocket and the moon on my head. And I leave. I just go. I’m tired of waiting. Waiting for the wormwood of truth. Waiting for the purpose of everything to reveal itself.

Crows make such odd noises sometimes. I wonder what it means. Cats are meditations in repose. Things explain themselves by kerosene. By interrelation. By fork and formaldehyde.

Who is Nina Hagen? Do you hide yourself in wine? The romance of the lighthouse is finished. We all navigate differently now. We use satellites and pixels. We use time balls and chronometers. Wisdom and semen. Mucilage and dreams.

I like the feeling of water passing over my body. I like the feeling of air going in and out of my body. I like the feeling of music in my blood and the way candlelight permits certain intimacies. I like the way dawn imposes itself on the mountains and the way colors hold our attention until an image reaches our brain.

The exact cause of poetry is unknown. There is no reason for it to exist. There is no reason for anything to exist. The sun arrives and unpacks its light and the day begins. A new chapter crawls out of my head and sits down on a sheet of paper and attempts to mean something. Mean something so weighty that it stays there. Tugs like an act of will. But it never really does. All I see are Max Jacob’s cuff links. A sleeve and an arm and an old man leaning against a column staring off into space.


Steven Fama said...

Ah, such energy here, a particularly fine

"wonderful discordancy of gears and machinery in play for no other purpose than to create screams and excitement. [ . . . ] Whirls, twirls, bumps and collisions. Sudden shifts, accelerations, dizzying velocities . . ."

and yes, that's you, John Olson, yes indeed, from an interview published in Denver Quarterly (Volume 43, Number 3 (April 2009)).

Anyone interested in more from or about that interview, permit me to point to something I wrote up about two years ago, here.

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