May 4, 2013

TAKING FIVES: Fragmentary record of attempts to own "Chronic Meanings"

Read or listen to Bob Perelman's "Chronic Meanings," a poem of 25 quatrains. You might also wish to read here or here for some notes regarding the process.

GE— I'll take "Structure announces structure and takes" off Perelman's poem because of it's metapoetic value (not only for this particular poem, or of his own poetics, but perhaps for all poetry read and written). This line also shows me a body invaded by disease, the immune system overrun, deceived to feed on itself. And that amazing word "takes" that that keeps, that saves, takes away, takes us nowhere, takes us so many places (as this poem does, and life) only to arrive at the period. Would you share your choice?

AN— "Then, having become superfluous, time." Yes indeed. Time, and therefore words. I wonder if he cut this off from somewhere? Nevertheless its perfect (to me) the way it is, placed where it is, after that cutting description of AIDS (and poetry, language) as "Symbiosis of home and prison."

for Lee Hickman

AN— "Rock or ages, a modern." Seems to refer to this poem, the addressee, as well as the "modern" disease, and the "modern" ways of detecting it (and maybe as well: the modern inability to cure it) that makes writing a pre-elegy possible

GE— that's so many ways of reading that rock! all of wc fits, i think. thanks, anon. "symbiosis" still has a sense of "life" in there, in fact at least two lives. it's like the poem itself as an act of preservation

AN— "The sky if anything grew." A longing for the comforts of the myths? Eternal life as well as judgment?

AN— "dumb/ as old medallions to the thumb" all that's left. if i had a line, that "stopped me cold" it's "Economics was not my strong." I mean, what?! Economics, now, really? And then I thought of the metapoetry, economy of the line so forth. The condensery. But also the budgeting of time that goes into the meditation of mortality. And how it's hard to find strength in that. In the counting of breaths.

GE— i think (and maybe im just over thinking it) that the toaster can be a metaphor for what's going to happen to him: here we have a man living his life, doing his job, and trying to maintain his sanity in this world and then pop, (or is it Ding) here's the news that he'll die of aids. i find the directness of it to be honest and so perfect.

AN— that "ding" or "pop" sounds like the period at the end of the line!

GE— had not thought of that, anon, but it makes sense. silent, almost absent pop, but one that's omnipresent nonetheless

AN— The 1st line you chose reminded me of Neruda's line in Preguntas which goes: "Is there anything sadder in the world than a train standing in the rain?"

AN— thought too about neruda's train. here it's even more absent, maybe sadder. Milton promises an after-life (very prosaic way of going at it, sorry) but that could be a sort of cruelty, esp with such a turmoil/grand war that the afterlife is painted to be

AN— in your US sitcoms, "i had better" has a special connotation. esp among girls. don't know if that's activated here. but yes such regret is present there, such sense of loss "no object to which urgency can be applied" doubles the loss somehow (the very act of this poem too)

AN— this line resonates for me with "The phone is for someone."

AN— can't even "do"... not even the word for do or whatever else is available, graspable

AN— out of our hands. and the rest of the sentences as well are out our hands whether writer or reader or addressee.

AN— "The lesson we can each." has the same feel for me as your first choice, "A story familiar as a." It's yes, that the lesson (or story) doesn't get told in its entirety, if there is an entirety. Or if there's a lesson, that's all the lesson there is in the world: "The lesson we can each" "A story as familiar as a." is all stories, because they all end (as in Atwood's "Happy Endings" story).

AN— this particular Atwood story is very short. I remember reading it in two anthologies, one of which is Sudden Fiction International. Here's the link to "Happy Endings"

GE— thanks for piquing my interest (once more) with that line!will have to listen in again on perelman.

AN— Truly! The power and creativity of a poet's intention. I liked your take on these two lines, thanks.

GE— The cutting of each line too, maybe. Something that couldn't be helped.

AN— nothing left in, nothing left out, nothing left.

AN— the way you put it gets me to thinking now about the way back is totally indivisible in "In a Restless World Like This Is"

AN— "There are a number of." But a number of what, right? Options, debts, friends, ideas, projects, toys in the attic, words? Whatever it is, they're not yours anymore, they're out of your sight, the world recedes.

AN— There you have it, co-Anon. "Words" definitely. And in the following line. Only one. Only one word, one life, on you?

AN— what pain to see these aspirations dashed, cut short

AN— "Characters in the withering capital." Sounds like the beginning of a Russian novel,a winter serial. But it's also about characters, Hickman, Perelman, us. Also about words, AIDS in particular. With its small letters hidden from view, superfluous little terrors. Unnecessary

GE— and maybe not enough of now either. thanks for weighing in!

AN— we end at I. the noun, the self hanging there...

AN— and now our own time ebbs

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