All Calls Orient Themselves like Syllables Through a Door
"Living space that allows the particular number of strides necessary to one's work." A favorite poetics of mine is Mayakovsky's little book How Verses Are Made. Emphasizing walking as an influence on rhythms, in it he tells us also where certain of his lines originated. "That son of a bitch, d'Anthes." Near Mistiches, 1924. The title for his poem, "A Cloud In Trousers": flirting with a girl while on a train from Saratov to Moscow, 1913. I would like to do some of the same. The poem 'Close To The Art Of Those Fearless At Sea' maps a wild wide range. The main section was composed at my desk over morning coffee, after years of study and reflection, resulting in a sudden "crazy wisdom" constellation recognized, then displayed, in one sitting, by the author through a fire of inspiration and associative insight. It ends in a Mezcal drunk. My girlfriend and I know a concrete garage bar in Oaxaca where Mezcal is homemade. Gallon mason jars full of bugs and sticks, colored blue, red and yellow stand arrayed. The barkeep asks how far you are from your hotel, then selects an appropriate hue. What do I have to gain by making up this story? While I wrote this poem, my girl butchered the hotel bed with a machete, kicked out all the windows. Such is my exordium to writing. In 'What Fire Does For Floors', nearly all lines are from sleep or waking dream. I want to add something about the dream censor. Writing appears in my dreams, not speech. But it is not silent. Writing is listening . . . It invariably appears as type, not script; in books, not disembodied letters of flame. Swedenborg, not Belshazzar's feast. The common action of the censor prevents the work of claiming, necessary to a writing-down, by dismissing a dream's text as "not mine", when it is, of course all mine, or its not being so is of the very essence. Understand, the text must be impossibly pursued "eyes wide shut", and I mean, consciously in sleep, at the same time the censor is resisted. In another maneuver the dream text is called "not good enough," where its extra-literary pedigree, anyway, is irreproachable. Once, a crowd of people, breaking my concentration, pushed through inside my dream. Both the decision to appropriate the text by transcription (its writing down) and its proscription (censorship) occur inside the dream. I do not carry things from sleep but see inside the dream. I have dreamt passages twice. Actually dreamt and woke to write down passages which I later lost or had forgotten; re-dreamed them even weeks after, as if they insisted . . . . In October 2002, I returned to New York from a month in Paris to find an overlooked notebook showing 25 dissociated lines from dreams. I was then able to compose the handful of lines needed to complete a 40-line poem happily in time for my birthday. After spending an hour in the crypt at St. John the Divine's the word "columbarium" occurred in a line from dream. I had to look it up. I had never heard the word before, was unsure it existed, and did not know what it meant. A sepulchre for urns. 'Occasionally Long-Lashed Heaven Overlooks' charts my life's crowning passion. The title is a line from dreams. It is apparently inconceivable that I should write poetry in any but the most extreme or exalted states. Here is the only woman I have ever been able to fall asleep next to. She too, is a dream.