Ago 20, 2014

Notes on Saeed Jones’s "Last Call"

                 Night presses the gunmetal O of its open mouth
                 against my own & I can’t help how I answer.

                 He is the taste of smoke, mesquite-laced tip
                 of the tongue. Silhouetted, a body always

                 pulling away, but shirt collar in my fists,
                 I pull him back. Need another double-black

                 kiss. I’ve got more hunger than my body can hold.
                 Bloated with want, I’m the man who waits

                 for the moon to drown before I let the lake
                 grab my ankles & take me into its muddy mouth.

                 They say a city is at the bottom of all that water.
                 Oh, marauder. Make me a drink. I’m on my way.



DENNIS—That audio. I see how you mean about it being about sleep. I’d read it as about that (and as about death) if "Night" and "He" were taken as one and the same. But if "Night" were merely a prelude to "He," a charged atmosphere of anticipation, or externalized desire, then a sexual reading takes the upper hand (without, I think, dispelling sleep, death, or other forms of defeat or surrender as possible "co-readings").

Been following the shifts from dominant to subordinate (or, aggressor/victim, seducer/target).

In the first stanzas, the persona is pressed upon by the night, but this shifts in the third stanza, where the "I" pulls back the "He" that pulls away. In the fourth stanza, the "I" is again overwhelmed, this time by "hunger" and "want" and shifts entirely to the passive "I am the man who waits." (This line recalls Barthes’s usual discourse: "The lover’s fatal identity is precisely this: I am the one who waits.")

It’s passive from this point on: "I let the lake/ grab my ankles" until "Make me drink." Unless we choose to stress the imperative tone in "Make me drink." Formulations such as "Enslave me" are really curious, because if the aggressor responds positively, then he/she is acquiescing, thus being dominated. If the aggressor responds negatively, then he/she is rejecting the functions of the dominant position.

"I’m on my way." Well, that could translate to "I’m coming," but I wonder if there’s more to it than merely that.




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