2 prose poems:
Pretty wild now, and Cento
Pretty wild now
While visiting a marketplace on a basketball court near some quiet apartment buildings, I couldn’t escape being poked, and the fingers were genitally aimed, though fortunately I was clothed. I punched the pokers in their faces. But the American man was strong, and I could not land my punches with any force, and he grinned and went on to poke again. I must write about this, I thought, and only later—why? Did it have something to do with the way that Netta’s insistent pause, on Question Me, had only amplified the sportscaster’s attack, so that he was now a regular on Breakfast? And the way that I did not want to share her tears, whose magnifying properties I fear, suspended as they are in a medial element that can not touch and dissolve ‘the blinding dust of earth’? After Great Expectations (Chapter 19) I read an interview with Christina Stead saying no, no, as though carving piered vaults in a cliff wall. Yes, I think, exhilarated, I too can think no. So ‘their hatred of men among all things’—well I’ve never met a feminist who actually—Nic calls to say he’s accidentally addicted the toddler to the video of Rick James’s Superfreak—the lycra, the bounding cleavage—and now the boy’s stuck, gormless, to the couch. ‘He’s all right.’ He’s all right with me. ‘We changed again, and yet again, and it was now too late and too far to go back, and I went on.’
Cento: A General Image of the Whole Countryside Recovering from the Effects of Winter
Yesterday morning I was dreaming I was with George Simcox and was considering how to get away in time to ring the bells here which as porter I had to ring, but ‘loveless circumstance’ means the full impress of mechanarchy, functionalism, routine: friendship may have encouraged Stevie to introduce an element of non-naturalistic farce, as when Captain Maulay, announced by a loud crash, bounds into the room with a paper bag full of cream buns, or a German officer, his plane shot down, is fished out of the lake. By day this is embarrassing, by night it is terrifying. Elsewhere, a woman leans over her waka, fish in one hand – those jettisoned bodies / gazing comet-struck into / the god void / aboard the Momship – he seems to have become very engaged, being led astray by the ripened seed-capsule, which gapes wide on drying, to expel the dust-like seeds. He thinks it important that the specimens he sends retain their Maori customary names, whereas Hooker swiftly undresses them. He is hoping to play peekaboo with someone who comes along. More language for journeys. A crossing, a cut. The word for arrival at a destination. Suitable for all on-snow activities, and procedures to rotate the fields of language, accompanied by a certain lasciviousness – the phantasy, I mean, of intra-uterine existence. Apparitions and ghosts represent that ambiguity. That’s what I want, / Said the Devil, / And threw one at him. It seems more relevant now than it did in his lifetime – a fern-green thing / from a spirit world. He had observed in old Maori culture that nearly everything was to a degree animate and full of spirits. This deepened his gloom, from the ground through a graceful swerve below (I think) the spring of the branches up to the tops of the timber. All possible voices were united, and then only through the ‘thisness’ of each object. He and the other novices had just come before the novice-master again to ask for ‘little leaves’ to keep such things as a watch, razor, pocket knife or scissors. The power of such absence is the chill it casts. It can only be read as something not yet made. But the whole of a man’s movable property is his own, which includes his house and fences, as well as all his smaller goods, so New Zealanders prefer to live in a type of self-imposed anaesthesia. Lucky lucky. Listen! Listen! As if the tongue told & tolled. This further alludes to the nose – the proboscis – and its homophone “knows.” I had nothing in mind. The struggles of babies. TB. Sophie -> 0482 666077- Nipple pain – Feed/sleep signals – Pumping – when? How can you be hungry while I live in this city? I cannot endure this. The smaller the quantity of dead wood in your fence, the less does it hurt the sight. This pressure of cultural selection probably explains the second branching of the tree, where clues are present, but serve no real function. There too, perched in the tree or tied to the battleground by white tendrils of memory, are all the memorialists and decorators of the primal myth. Points with no origins and few effing returns.
The source texts for this poem are Gerald Manley Hopkins, The Major Works; Robert Graves, Poetic Craft and Principle; Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory; Frances Spalding, Stevie Smith: A Critical Biography; Wanda Coleman, Bath Water Wine; Landfall 229; Leicester Kyle, Koroneho; Peter Wells, The Hungry Heart: Journeys with William Colenso; Jen Crawford, assorted notebooks; an Aldi catalogue; n.a, Little Duck Finger Puppet Book; Michael Nardone, “Listen! Listen! Listen!: Jackson Mac Low’s Phonopoetics”; Julia Kristeva, Strangers to Ourselves; Michael King, The Penguin History of New Zealand; The Arabian Nights, tr Husain Haddawy; John Barrell, The Idea of Landscape and the Sense of Place: An Approach to the Poetry of John Clare 1730-1840; Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees; Rachel Loden, Kulchur Girl; Jack Ross, “Leicester Kyle”; Leicester Kyle, Heteropholis; Leicester Kyle, Options; Paul Mariani, Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life; Roopika Risam, “The Poetry of Unexecutable Code”; Peter Wells “Colenso: On how trees can save us and keep us sane”; Wikipedia, “Gerard Manley Hopkins”; The Victorian Web, “Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Brief Biography”; The Victorian Web, “Hopkins on Inscape and Instress”; The Poetry Foundation, “Gerard Manley Hopkins”; Facebook; William Colenso, “On the Maori Races of New Zealand”; Annie Potts, Philip Armstrong, Deirdre Brown, “A New Zealand Book of Beasts: Animals in our Culture, History and Everyday Life”; The New Yorker, Joan Didion, “Last Words” precis; Adrienne LaFrance, “Why’s this so good? No. 79. Joan Didion, Hemingway, and Mathematically Musical Writing”.