Friday, February 16, 2007

Specifically for Mr. Crayon

Found Poem
This was sent to me by KOKO Petroleum, with the inviting title “you should read this.” And so I have, closely.

you should read this

re by about trouble Patriarch
slightly What the uninvited he
May hands falls member this
mirthless street Here of a
in absurd wore affirmed historians
I Kislovodsk re paper s
instance is stranger about completely
question stranger impossible no word
juice conversation Putzli trousers seemed
re by about trouble Patriarch
slightly What the uninvited he
May hands falls member this
mirthless street Here of a
in absurd wore affirmed historians
I Kislovodsk re paper s
instance is stranger about completely
question stranger impossible no word
juice conversation Putzli trousers seemed
re by about trouble Patriarch
slightly What the uninvited he
May hands falls member this
mirthless street Here of a
in absurd wore affirmed historians
I Kislovodsk re paper s
instance is stranger about completely
question stranger impossible no word
juice conversation Putzli trousers seemed
re by about trouble Patriarch
slightly What the uninvited he
May hands falls member this
mirthless street Here of a
in absurd wore affirmed historians
I Kislovodsk re paper s
instance is stranger about completely
question stranger impossible no word
juice conversation Putzli trousers seemed


A few lines of analysis:
Perhaps the first question readers may ask themselves is “who is the Patriarch?” (line 1). What do we know about him? We know that he is troubled, but not by the usual concerns that trouble patriarchs (virgin daughters, unruly wives, and things of that sort.) Rather, this patriarch is troubled—if only slightly—by smaller things, smaller words. First: re. This one is understandable because all abbreviations can be troubling. He is also troubled by “by.” This could indicate, of course, that the Patriarch is questioning his Author-ity, the power that he derives from his Author-Being. “By and by” he might have to, willingly or not, relinquish this power. It might also indicate a fear of contiguity, of closeness, of connection. This seems to bear itself out in the next lines, which introduce the “uninvited he” into the poem. Imagine, if you will, some additional punctuation that would allow us to feel more palpably the impact that the ‘he’ has on the Patriarch:
“What?!” The uninvited he!!”

Then: “May hands falls.” At first, this seems merely a textbook example of verb agreement errors. But let us look more closely. Perhaps “falls” is not a verb at all, but a noun. In fact, all three of these words act in this way: they can serve as either nouns or verbs (and, in one case, as a proper noun). This draws attention to the enormously plastic quality of our language.

With nothing even so much as a line break, let alone punctuation, we are asked to “member this mirthless street. “Member” is likely a shortened, colloquial form of “remember”: the poem draws us deeper into its street-spaces, even as we simultaneously dwell within our memories. (Or perhaps we are being asked to “dismember this mirthless street,” to divide up its deadness. Morbid possibility.)

As the poem continues, we encounter “affirmed historians”—the very worse kind. Certainly, they are “absurd,” and we need not linger on them. The next two words “I Kislovodsk,” brings a lovely Balkan feel to the poem, giving us, at last, a way to situate a person in the cityscape of the mirthless street, where (“here”) instance is indeed stranger—a moment, a pause, a barely-anything. The enjambment of “completely/question stranger” is a call for interrogation, for a more complete knowing even as the completed line “completely/question stranger impossible” affirms its hopelessness. The hopelessness is echoed in the desolate phrase: “no word”—here, we approach the death of language, where words no longer can be vessels of meaning.

But the poem does not end on a note of despair: far from it. Rather we have the phrase “juice conversation”—suggesting the liquidity of language, the juicy deliciousness of dialogue. Once we have reached the brink of “no word” (the, if you will “end of the line”) we can turn a new page (begin a new line) and see the fruitfulness (orange, cranberry) of language. Then too it is here that we see a connection to an older poetic tradition. For who else is concerned with trousers? Eliot, of course. This is a clear reimagining of the Prufrock lines: “I shall wear white flannel trousers and walk upon the beach.” Here, though, the trousers are not white flannel, but Putzli, which suggests, perhaps, a German fashion designer. What do the trousers “see(a)m” (pun!) to be? The seam of thought is left unfinished as the poem circles back on itself. While Hamlet reaffirms the “is” (“Seems, madam! Nay, it is. I know not 'seems.'”) this poet allows us, even in the end, to dwell in seam-y possibility.

4 Comments:

Blogger Gordon Merrick said...

I say hoorah for Juice Conversation. Frozen or pulpy indeed.

9:00 AM  
Blogger geoffreycrayon said...

A dedicated exegesis from betsytacy—I blush from the flattery. And a post from the incomparable Gordon Merrick!

Ah, I see the forlorn sadness of the troubled Patriarch, too impotent even to lay a comforting hand upon himself: "May hands falls member this."

What sad poetry lurks in spam!

8:24 AM  
Blogger tapa girl said...

Ah. I do not know which caused me the greater headache, the careful excavation for meaning in the musings of Mr. Crayon, or the rigamarole required to post this vapid comment. Of course, I do applaud the effort to find said meaning--as would any self-respecting "affirmed historian," and hope that a dash of convoluted prose on my part does indeed identify me as such. Is anyone else disturbed by the notion of koko petroleum?

9:05 PM  
Blogger tapa girl said...

By the way,I did of course mean that my own comment was vapid. I freely confess that I am intimidated terribly by Mr. Crayon. "Absurd"? Possibly. Guess I will never be Patriarch.

9:09 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home