A HYBRID NOTEBOOK OF POETICS AND PORNOGRAPHIES

Pornography Disclaimer

This is a an imaginary diary of facts, confessions, or messages. This is a notebook of working but broken ideas, lines, images, notes on books I'm reading, writers I admire, and brief fantasies of language. Here unfiltered  all mannerings pseudo-private, publicized, ur-. Here I am art and unrevealed: poetic, political and pop. These are my moonlit rough beginnings and should not be taken literally, directly, truthfully, reliably, and none of it is legally binding. These lies are all choreographed, but only haphazardly. Beware.

23.2.08

BLUE COMPLAINT IN THE DARK GARDEN

. . . . . .

But this complaint is a pleasure rocketing forth, bright then lost. The disappearance has a flavor, a blind tang.












EVIDENCE

Blue is the evidence of what I do,
the lies I'll leave behind, no more, no less.
This is the past, and so it must be true.

This stack of DVD's, of overdue
pornography, the titles meaningless:
blue is the evidence of what I do.

This is the coat from Saks Fifth Avenue,
charged to my old American Express--
this is the past, and so it must be true

that once I loved this wretched shade of blue.
I dreamt of men whom I could not impress.
Blue is the evidence of what I do,

the letter here that ends in I love you.
My prose was from the heart, my heart a mess.
This is the past, and so it must be true

I lacked the guts to send it off--I knew
of certain things that one should not confess.
Blue is the evidence of what I do.
This is the past, and so it must be true.


I spent one of my rainy evenings here in a pizza hut on Pico Boulevard reading Randall Mann's Complaint in the Garden, winner of the now defunct Zoo press' 2003 Kenyon Review Prize. It's fitting to wait out a hurricane while keeping time with Mann's work, filled with metrical precision and a lot of what many poets tend to sneer at--the rigors of strict form. David Baker's nice introduction says enough about his motifs (natural history of Florida and the Caribbean, gay life, and what Baker calls Mann's "engagement with poetics and poetic history"), but what I find most lovely about the book is its precision with regard to eros. It's as if form allows Mann to withdraw the thorn from the mark and leave us with the dissolve of emotion. 

Like Cavafy's work, many of these poems create a kind of distance in which the reader too suffers a memory, a wonderful nostalgia for a once passionate ruin. In them we are reminded that the lover's pain is like warm color, more a necessary idea, a place of struck imagining and awe, more a feeling we can consider as it leaves us than it is actual physical suffering.  Love in Mann is hurt pleasure, the nostalgia for an early abandonment, an early joy. In the poem "Blood" he remembers us: 

I drank the least expensive bottled beer 
and blindly followed kindly, foreign men 
into their cars, their rented rooms, their beds-- 
the rest of this is darkness now, is lost.

Desire in this book is greatly tempered by form, so that in the end we are not overwhelmed by visceral existence, but instead find ourselves reciting Mann's lyric attentions to the several weathers of our bewilderment. "And you will say the word love" he writes "as if it were not meaningless, as if / we were not dying." 

I left my pizza half-eaten, nourished instead by his satisfying equations. I hungered instead for old and memorable nights.

. . . . . . . 

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Poetry Disclaimer

My work has been awarded the Katherine C. Turner Prize from the Academy of American Poets, a Swarthout Award, and has twice been nominated and shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize. My first book, A Book Called Rats, was selected for the Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry (Eastern Washington University Press 2007). I'm curating editor for the online journal of poetry: PISTOLA and my poems and reviews most recently appear in Massachusetts Review, Beloit, Ploughshares and RAIN TAXI. I currently teach writing and literature at Santa Monica College in southern California.