Saturday, July 18, 2015


 If one thing I’ve noticed is the attention of the artist to his writing and legacy at the expense of the vitality of his actual living life, this one turns that over. Not that his living life is all that lively—broken, sick, not strong. But the readers and critics swarming in to “untangle / the riddles of my little wit” are treated with impatience at best, and they’re regarded as “tiresome.” “How few followed / the One or both”—for all their numbers they don’t really get it anyway. But at the writing of the poem it doesn’t matter, because the poet is writing out of physical pain, which is overwhelming everything else. Pain will do that, makes it so that “I cannot think.” His broken left arm reminds him “the whole body can come to harm; / will.” Here’s the lesson finally creeping in?: Take care of your body, because none of the other stuff matters if it’s not in good working order. At the very least it gets more difficult because too often it takes more than you’ve got to work through the pall that descends on the mind and body when pain swells too acutely. Randall Jarrell fell into the same pit that B. is getting sucked down—addiction, illness, and the subsequent degradation of the higher kinds of productivity, poetry being the main one in question. Jarrell’s wife, like all of us, is left with the empty hole of her grief.


I’m done
for the work
on a hot morning
has taxed my over-
heated body
past endurance
my heart muscle
clanking like the shovel
against the rock
that stopped
progress on the last
let me rest and let
my sweat glands—
hysterical with their own
humid work—refill
and close
after I’ve read
for awhile I’ll
find an iron bar
use its point to shatter
the ignorant rock
book and bar
tools that keep us


No comments:

Post a Comment