Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Carnival Act ( an open letter to Jack Spicer)

     Today I read about a pitcher who has reached a dead end and who subsequently contemplated Nature in his car with the windows rolled up.  He turned himself into the baseball equivalent of a sideshow, perhaps not the bearded lady or a two-headed turtle, but close.  A knuckle ball can be learned in a day but one must put strikes out of mind.  A well-thrown knuckle ball has a little less than a quarter rotation from pitcher to catcher.  The best way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling then pick it up.  Some say the pitcher is a poor hitter because he thinks of the ball as his friend. Each turn of the knuckleball is like a leap of faith. It can make even a seasoned hitter look like an ass. Its flight famously a buck-toothed termite angrily sawing through ash.  
   Throughout my childhood I thought there was no mystery to the rain. When did afternoon become such a burden—something to discard late at night along with certain perishables? Under the yellowing light the pickle jar, then peeled peaches in the morning. Finally a still afternoon. We drop all pretense. Maybe not.  Fast-forward a few years, how I thought things might change for the better.  The answer on Jeopardy is always given first but not on your death bed.   This time I let the sun touch me through the window. Next door a house with shoulders half-raised in apology, saying this is how we are made.  Two dead aloe plants, yellowed paper, cinnamon, head of an evening moth.  A hot day at the office.  Sounds coming from the corner. Nobody moves. 
    On a cloudy humid night crazy people came out on Mulberry Street to cut a rug.  Every little breeze seemed to whisper ‘Louise’.  A garrulous man’s character was shown through his hat; so we get the expression talking through your hat. But that’s old hat. Most young boys who hang out on street corners become bus drivers in their later years. Good drivers make poor poets—just an observation. One knows that Chicago is a large city though it feels like two Newarks affixed. People who care about what  people think of their city are not from here.  
    It was around the time I was doing the brown paintings that my life seemed like a glass channel through which I was moving faster each second into blackness.  When I changed my style the glass walls receded.  That’s all there is to the fact that no one living will be me.  Now that I’ve recognized it, my personal death seems less bothersome.  I may be unusual in that I’m never sated with what I love most and have little interest in variety.  Like a spot light moving along a row of legs of chorus girls my time advances as a series of deals.    Though this may seem profoundly true it makes no sense.  Imperceptibly I’m inclined to believe that the past was worth it, but that may be wishful thinking.      
     To circle places, hover over them, honeyed, haunted, lost names---Illyria, Elis, Attica, Argolis, Arcadia.  There were newspapers printed in Hebrew the Constantinople of the late Byzantine was what—“alive”? they were facts in a way that Manhattan and Toronto aren’t?  Yet this is how we read following our best interests, like an army moving along the supply lines searching all the available books.  All those words elected us.  Lamp in the study.   To return is to differentiate.  What a little thing a single human life with all its pointless projects.  ruins describe it, yet we persist in pretending books are not ruins not broken columns.   
     Another memory ruined.  All attachments to that life cut off.  Tedious books.  Too painful to go into the city.  No use keeping tabs on what one could never be a part of goes through everyone’s mind.  The mid-day stillness.  Sleep and the smell of phantoms.  Faces exchanged for the duration against the mirror of sky.  Water and flowers on every table.  I wonder why my eyes have opened in an indefinable place.  I wait for developments whether to count by blessings or heap up bitterness.  Trapped by vapid thoughts I take a seat in the park to toss nuts. 
     Still I maintained an idea of myself despite evidence suggesting other wise.    The human form persists, doesn’t jump ship, a short lived horizon on its face.  This way, sir, down the stairs and this way, many, many “You’re on a mission can’t you see that?”  I assent, big-hearted but stingy too.  The extended hand, traveling motion returning to objects.  Witnesses clatter in the hall below which distance intercedes moves liberally, well disguised entering light of practical reason tongue lashing in the dark. 

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