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as a rigidity in printed texts. That sentence's words are there because of choices that are still felt.
Alison Apotheker says I'm being coy to myself, not being hirable by universities, the refusal
to network my choice, not something done to me. My long poems, the ones I care about might
be like the composer who says "but this, this is my masterpiece" and nobody cares,
preferring (not just for accessibility) the bagatelles. That you can be hopelessly wrong
about what you do is possible. Contain, as in a container, these:

The clipping about oatcakes saved for my mother less useful now, dignity of illness accorded. Intubed,
tealess, my sister in law gave her a shirt with a teapot on it (poetry's way of doing justice),
her introduction no instant indefeasibility but how one is in a thing, in a hospital or muddle.

Lines I cut above were about the Republic, Phaedrus, justice, but I wanted to write about
my mother, who's had a stroke. It was on my mind, and I didn't want to leave it out.
But the resolve that works, "because of choices that are still felt," does not work here,
"the hospital or muddle," not that a resolve is wrong but that the words work would be.
I know I could just say things. There could be a poetry of just saying things. Alison,
in a way, thinks there is. The question might be, just what is it you're rendering? My mother
incapacitated, described by phone because I'm a poet and am poor, is a fact like an injured cat
in the roadway, even that. You're out of speech for it, finding a way to do or be, not words.
Get up, get well. Come to talk again, have tea and shortbread (admire the toy tea sets you collect,
that when I see in shops I want to get), all tied to actions. So thinking gets a bad name.
If mother's ill it's not a subject or theme, could easily tarnish my thinky poetry, device though
it may be to keep going without plot.
I finished Lispector's Passion (so did she.) I doubt that it helped her when she came to die.
At least she said some things no one's said, better than a mystic from her broader range. It's when
the notes falter, she says, electron microscope enlargements unintelligible but something.
What they tell me is crisp edges are crumbly like hot bread pulled apart, bits of spare material
everywhere, not living but ingredients. At the level, nearly, of chemistry it's just stuff.
Jennie introduces Larry, who writes delicious prose. I could not tell you what this is for me,
handed stacks on the paper printed to look as if it's crumpled, dim pub light overriding any
memory that it's just paper. The illusion of a tattiness supporting good writing. My heart
remembers drinking eight Guinnesses apiece with her, moratorium that day on broken hearts.
People carry themselves like knapsacks, heave from place to place, leave litter on the
Romaunt garden path. The flowers are kinder, prickly but kinder.
I saw a face in clouds, just wisps, but the chin (which is complex) was perfect. Then
another, ogre face, nose pushed in, I talked into a smile and said good night to.
The sky this evening at sunset, looking the other way, sustained me, moving fast and as
I say wisps, orangeish, and a plane so good it could have been a bird, one of the tiny
finches here a second this morning, in a tree. My balance is secured by luck. It's like
being under psychic attack as described by Dion Fortune. Nothing "works" but with luck
you continue to abide. I hope the sky is interesting for Ted, in prison. The moon
is a sickle, its shaded part dully present. As deity for poets it barely more than kibitzes,
or seems to. I looked again today at the book on how Wallace Stevens is good for lawyers.
Yesterday (these are not signs) Cassie showed me the card that says she is one
and a good poem on Spring.

Little A.G.

The Prince of Timidity overcame his name,
barely, played with lambs but didn't like the stars
his little sword silver with a gold hilt, which suited him
like plastic, cultivated bravery mid hollyhocks,
spoke the tiger-lily's name, skated on glass
vexing the fish ghosts. Prime to him

Copyright Gerald Burns 1995-1997

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