Many Belgians, I’m told, dispute the proposition that Belgium makes sense as a single entity, and argue that the country should be carved up. Last week, Rachel and I visited friends in Mechelen, who also took us on day trips to Ghent and Antwerp. But even though we were in Rubens country, the more southerly spirit of Brueghel was never too far away, either. Five days and three cities don’t give me much of a basis for generalization, so I’ll just say I was impressed by a seeming obsession with bodies and embodiment, which I found evidence for almost everywhere I looked. (more…)
Break glass, pull lever, adjust mask, tighten:
the arrow points all ways in an emergency.
A seat is more than a cushion: it’s a flotation device.
You wrap both arms around it in an emergency.
No need to be polite or fake a feeble cough.
You’re allowed to belt it out in an emergency.
As a child, once, a sudden constriction in breath made me leap
into my father’s arms: was it affection or a sense of emergency?
When a baby threw up clear across the waiting room, she was moved
to first in line. Projectile vomiting counts as an emergency.
We could hear sirens from miles away. A disembodied voice instructed us
to leave our homes, seek other shelter. Where to go in such an emergency?
My girlfriend recounts on the twelfth anniversary of her sister’s death
how she pulled off the highway from a sense of impending emergency.
Breath quickens, the pulse turns restless.
Rising tides find sluiceways in an emergency.
(Lord’s day). In the morning my father and I walked in the garden and read the will; where, though he gives me nothing at present till my father’s death, or at least very little, yet I am glad to see that he hath done so well for us, all, and well to the rest of his kindred. After that done, we went about getting things, as ribbands and gloves, ready for the burial. Which in the afternoon was done; where, it being Sunday, all people far and near come in; and in the greatest disorder that ever I saw, we made shift to serve them what we had of wine and other things; and then to carry him to the church, where Mr. Taylor buried him, and Mr. Turners preached a funerall sermon, where he spoke not particularly of him anything, but that he was one so well known for his honesty, that it spoke for itself above all that he could say for it. And so made a very good sermon.
Home with some of the company who supped there, and things being quiet, at night to bed.
The garden gives me
nothing; I am glad.
in the greatest disorder,
in one nest it made
a home of quiet.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 7 July 1661.
Of course I think about return: the many ways a path
might stretch or hold, mountain and valley, across a map.
Edges don’t circumscribe or surpass: this kind of math
merely arrives at the same sum— How many ways a path
leafed out, but tracked itself back to a source. No trap’s
more cunning than the one that never shut you in or out—
Of course I think about return: the many ways a path
can stretch and hold, mountain and valley, across a map.
to be smooth as a fig leaf sunning in the yard.
I asked to be light as a circus of speckled motes,
to have the dignity of lanterns on a passing train.
I asked to open like a secret peeling from the bark of a tree,
to close like the hinge of a music box after it has been played.
I asked to bear in my hands the heart hidden in the hills,
for the string to guide me into the labyrinth.
says I am not a copy: most of the time
you don’t even know I’m here. The poem
behind the poem is not your evil twin,
and not your doppelgänger either. You came
into the room thinking Oh what nice
contemporary furniture, what pleasant ambience,
and you were ready to surrender your keys, your purse,
your not-yet-born firstborn to the handsome valet
attendant. But the poem behind the poem doesn’t care
what kind of suit or trench coat you’re wearing,
what kind of cummerbund. The poem behind the poem
is a thin tasseled cord to one side
of the printed drape or the dumbwaiter.
The poem behind the poem is the trapdoor
you don’t notice until the floor falls away
beneath your shiny, pointy, oxfords; and you
are falling into a story that doesn’t seem
to make sense, and so you wave your arms
and yell I’ll sue! except the ancient clerk
yawning at the counter has seen it all before.
—Luisa A. Igloria
07 July 2014
In response to Via Negativa: An inquiry concerning the poetics of like, whatever.
Waked this morning with news, brought me by a messenger on purpose, that my uncle Robert is dead, and died yesterday; so I rose sorry in some respect, glad in my expectations in another respect. So I made myself ready, went and told my uncle Wight, my Lady, and some others thereof, and bought me a pair of boots in St. Martin’s, and got myself ready, and then to the Post House and set out about eleven and twelve o’clock, taking the messenger with me that came to me, and so we rode and got well by nine o’clock to Brampton, where I found my father well. My uncle’s corpse in a coffin standing upon joynt-stools in the chimney in the hall; but it begun to smell, and so I caused it to be set forth in the yard all night, and watched by two men. My aunt I found in bed in a most nasty ugly pickle, made me sick to see it. My father and I lay together tonight, I greedy to see the will, but did not ask to see it till to-morrow.
I made myself a pair:
my clock and I,
my corpse and I
set forth together,
greedy to see.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 6 July 1661.
At home, and in the afternoon to the office, and that being done all went to Sir W. Batten’s and there had a venison pasty, and were very merry. At night home and to bed.
Me and the office: one
A merry bed.
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 5 July 1661.
The poem behind the poem says
what do we do with the other
creatures of this world?
Those that stay put, stay put;
those that move, raise their mobile
devices to the window
and press record. What do we do
with the other languages of this world,
the other ways to forget or fall silent?
Dogs can’t be the only ones
whose vocalizations have adapted
to the inattentiveness of the human ear.
And there’s a bird in New Guinea
that can imitate with equal accuracy
a camera shutter or a chainsaw.
What do we do with ourselves
during the 99% of our lives
when we are not listening
to the poem (song, prayer) in which
our actual names happen to be recorded,
and customs agents are demanding more
and more documentation for everything
that crosses a line, while those that stay put
learn to imitate themselves…
I’m sorry, what
was the question again?
I’ve been busy collecting photographs of cherubs.
I love how they manage to be
both fleshy and impossible.
And now the voices are telling me
to mind the gap—
over and over, as if that were
our most essential task…
We sit in the grass having come nearly late.
We’ve made our way under the trees, rough
ground cover prickling at our sandaled heels.
The moon is a wafer split exactly in half.
Someone asks, If only one part of the balance
is visible, should we assume the other unseen
is properly accounted for? If you haven’t
been where we’ve been, it’s difficult
to understand what it’s really like.
Sure, the streets are spotless and the hedges
are well-manicured. In this part of town,
the doors of townhouses all have beautiful,
ornate knockers, polished to such a high shine.
But who told you the trees bear only fruits
of gold? I and my kind walk beneath endless
rows of them, stretching our shirts and aprons
to catch what careless afterthought the unseen gods
might lob out their windows. We hold up our heads
and smile at those we meet. We carry laminated plastic
cards with which we provision time, our little dignities.