Screw Loose

September 14, 2010 § 2 Comments

White Zombie

A friend came over for dinner last night, and we had a nice time, nice pasta, nice salad, good wine, gentle words, but he left early, especially relative to my schedule: bed at 2 am, up at 10 am. I didn’t want to drink the rest of the wine and couldn’t focus on work, so I took a walk. Glorious night! The French-blue sky clogged with gray, slow-moving clouds; the persistent Quad Cinema; a store called Filaments, full of plump, excited lamps; and lots of NYU real estate. I realized how much the hot summer had debilitated me, pinning me to my bed to ready gory fantasy novels full of necromancers bringing the dead back to life (it’s very hard to get rid of them once they’re already dead: you must burn them or mince thoroughly), in between hours of work in the fake chill of the air conditioner…As often happens when I spend too much time without feeling physically well, I started imagining I was an automaton, or a person Who Once Was, that all the good stuff in life was over, and what’s worse, I was no longer entitled to complain.

I’m not entitled to complain. I will, though, when I figure out how to mask it better. Some pathetic ne’er do well minor character in the fifth volume of a series, a brilliant portrait of whining, petty why-me regret and greed…and, he’ll look nothing like me! No one will ever guess!

I’m remembering the good stuff now. Much of it is over. But memory has its pleasures, and if forced to watch football, one can always admire those tight, well-defined butts… I digress….When I returned from my walk, I spoke to a woman on the elevator, never seen her before, she was Southern and friendly in the old style, reminding me of the past and also reminding me of a time when I was full of excitement about strangers: who they were, how they lived. Yes, I know more now and the big surprises have been unveiled, or so I imagine. Really, who knows? Maybe the universe will turn inside out. Maybe I’ll become a button. Maybe wolves will run over the crusted snow endlessly, in a novel that is never finished, the words stopping just there: the wolves flowed like water over the untouched snow, their lean bodies merging into one shadow-colored, ferocious wave, the horizon removing itself invisibly…


They scare me by saying

There’s a screw loose in my head

They scare me more by saying

They’ll bury me

In a box with the screws loose

They scare me but little do they realise

That my loose screws

Scare them

The happy crazy from our street

Boasts to me

—Vasco Popa

The blossoms on the trees stir up the honey bees

March 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Ed and friend

Spring came this year with Congress passing the healthcare bill; astrologers will tell you there was a mighty configuration of planets in the sky, not all benign or easy, by any means, but as full of portent as any ancient comet. I only read astrological sites when I have insomnia or am trying to convince myself that whatever is happening is just about to stop happening, so I can’t remember the details. But American politics makes sense if you imagine it controlled by light-years distant lumps of cold stone or boiling gasses, by geometries indifferent to human logic, by the attributes the Greeks saw in their gods—vengeance, jealousy, spite, lust, the coddling of the favored and the inclination to turn a woman your husband has raped into a white cow.

But enough of that. Spring is buds on the trees and flowers up and down 9th St.  Spring is I can take long walks again, and soon will be lured out into the warm dark after dinner. Spring is poetry month and you should sign up here to receive a poem in your inbox everyday.

Spring (May) will also bring the reissue of Charles’ Simic’s book of translations, The Horse has Six Legs: An Anthology of Serbian Poetry, which you must read if you like Simic’s work. In it you will find much that casts light on his poems, though not so much that they’ll come all the way out of the shadows where they hang out between readings, swapping lines and putting them back just in time.

Here’s one of the good ones from the book


The little box which contains the world
Fell in love with herself
And conceived
Still another box

The litle box of the little box
Also fell in love with herself
And conceived
Still another little box

And so it went on forever

The world from the little box
Ought to be inside
The last offspring of the little box

But not one of the little boxes
Inside the little box in love with herself
Is the last one

Let’s see you find the world now

–Vasco Popa, trans. Charles Simic

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