Hun 23, 2013

Transmissions of violence

by Cid Corman

Terror—Ed—is not
Sitting in one's piss.
I know—I've sat there—

I've slept there and did
Most of my childhood.
That was warmth—in fact—

And comfort—in spite
Of the unconsealed

Smell. Terror? That was
And always will be
Mother cursing Dad

And there there I am
Alone in that night
Hearing that door slam.

AN— was oddly happy to hear about a poet who was very generous and responsive to the next generation. led me to think that maybe 'Mother' and 'Dad' here might also somehow represent previous generations of authorities (govt? literature?), i mean, other authorities too, yes, but also definitely (primarily?) the parents!

AN— cid is amazing. felt like i was right there with him between the sheets hearing the door slam

AN— graphic! but, okay

DE— Yes. And he was so aggressive about it, in the first two lines. He was so eager to negate his friend's experience of terror with his own recollection of it. Upon rereading it, I heard an echo of the door slamming in the first stanza. I see the persona "consealing" his friend by cutting out the claim he was responding to, by reburying "Ed" in the foxhole, between his dashes and the words "Terror" and ""is not". There's a third terror at play here.

DE— I subscribe to that reading, now that you mentioned it. I was looking for some other verbal play in the order of unconsealed and unconsealable in this poem, and thought there was none, until your idea came along. Also, I believe that if "Ed" was being actively absorbed by "Terror," then it supports (I hope) my idea that the Corman-persona here is likewise a source of a subtler (but for me, unmistakeable) form of violence.

AN— if only for this thread, i agree that enuresis would have been a fine addition to the syllabus. But for now, it remains our mean little secret

DE— Found your take on "in spite" and I see how that can be extended to Terror/Smell. It goes two ways after all, the situation in comparison being war. Eye for an eye. It makes me think too that while the "Ed" person has been somewhat coerced to take a position in the foxhole, this character (if taken as part of the US war machine) may be juxtaposed not only with the child but also with the parents.

DE— I'm sorry I didn't see you were asking a similar question I read earlier. If you scroll down a bit to her comments, I gave it a shot there. I said it's a portmanteau, a word coming from a combination of words. But it's not used beyond Corman (and us overnight Cormanites) so it's possibly a neologism or invented word.

DE— I think "unconsealed" is a portmanteau word. It's like smog which is a combination of two words, smoke and fog. Poets and fictionists (James Joyce is the great example of going crazy with this device) sometimes resort to this in order to enact various effects. Here, for me, it's a truly curious effect. He combines "concealed" with "sealed" and with the use of the prefix, he makes it to mean both unconcealed (revealed) as well as unseal (release). I love unconsealed though, as well as unconsealable, because as words forcing a union between themselves, it's as if they're still trying to conceal, still trying to seal. As if these words were the legs just won't come apart—even after all these years!—they're still trying to keep it in.

AN— unconsolable! that's a find! i'm glad they posted this thread, otherwise i'd totally miss that. Thanks for the riff

DE— Yes, thanks that you riffed on it. I was intrigued by the word since I first heard it, but now that you gave me that angle, it's now become my single my favorite word in the threads. And... I do hope you got something from the link. It was a good listen for me, and it gave me some insight not just for this poem but also for "It Isn't for Want"...

AN— I think this is a sound reading of the interplay of words. amazing how much nuance can be loaded into a poem

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