For the past 14 years, I have posted poems to the Wryting-L listserv. Alan Sondheim helped start the list, which has gone thru a couple of name changes. The lit has evolved into a small community of writers who post work that fairly settles under the rubric Experimental. We dassn't worry about the term except to say that the work posted varies greatly in conception and style. I have met a few listees in the flesh, and have corresponded with others.
Recently, Bob BruekL went to the trouble of close-reading a poem of mine. Bob should be better known because his writing is vivid and startling with an often scatological hilarity. People rarely comment on work presented, so Bob's extended reading of my poem proved surprising. In correspondence, Bob has pretty much stated that there''s Gertrude Stein then everyone else. He is nonetheless well-read, and read each word with care.
I herewith post my poem and his response. I do so not to add weight to my writing, but to present someone's approach to reading poetry. As a poet, it is not really my job to know what I'm doing. I am a conduit. That does not mean I renounce intention and technique, it means I honour the process of the words' gathering. A poem doesn't write itself, it finds itself, thru the poet.
Below is my poem, which I also posted to my poetry blog, Simple Theories, here. Bob's reaction, which he calls “Luminoius Lint”, follows the poem. Apologies for the spacy format in Bob’s section. Now how he presented it, but too time-consuming to correct.
* * * * *
You Will Hear a Dial Tone to Confirm Your Connection
My dying dad, we talk of rags. The beginning sees the Winston cigarette that somebody wanted. Later approval wore shoes. My dying dad in 2005, fit full of years. Destination smoke. You could say that, tho he smoked a pipe. His smoke was named relishing, which is a principle of poetry.
Why the weird gaze, populace? You old in the hills when you smile piles of underwear track panic. Scouting density is the new fat band. Traces of words stick to rock walls and halos. The linear fat check smiles Galadriel paddle ball. After it smoke rendering oil, the torso of occasion bends windward.
Words of rotation caulked the seeming. The present dad is when you look on a promontory. Whilst, in the evening, memory wants oil. So sliding posse fetch, to bring outlaw rampart dogma home.
The cattle of dad goes to prime. Each word conks oboe with a brow beat. You say intend, everyone else matches panza division hearing loss. Express words in digits of computed aggression, and sorry for the sag.
Too many words associate with too many not really exact ponds. A pond is life and dad. In dad the concept of dad, the concept in all time of dad, when really, it was a form. It bled into a country flag, forming the moral equivalent of lint.
Rags excursion sent my dad. You in clergy, belfry, Reader, pant.
* * * * *
Luminous Lint (by Bob BruekL)
What is this Poem about? Is it a complex Poem?
Is it a luminous Poem? Is it a Poem about concepts?
Is it a Poem about words? Is it a Poem about words as concepts?
Are words nothing but concepts? Is it a Poem about Poetry?
Are all Poems ultimately about Poetry? What is Poetry?
Is it a Poem about lint?
Obviously it is a Poem about the Poet's connection to a memory.
It is about from what he has descended, his flesh and blood.
It is about a bunch of memories, some of them seemingly seared
in his brain. But the Poem is about the Poet's destiny too,
the Poet's dying: the destination of the Poem is destiny,
the dying of us all, of all creatures, all things, the Universe itself.
But there is THE BEGINNING, and in hindsight, all beginnings
can be seen to see, to harbor insights into what is to come.
But LATER, when everything is worn out, when everything
has gone up in smoke, puffs of words linger. Words can
imply anything, but things -- objects -- rear their ugly or
beautiful heads constantly, almost accidentally.
So "a principle of Poetry" is squeezed into this Poem,
into almost all the Poems of Allen Bramhall, in fact.
Grammar itself, words, sentences -- all these are subjects
of his Poems, or seem to sneak into all of his Poems.
His Poems are about Poetry, even though the number one
subject of this Poem is the memory of his flesh and blood --
heart and brain, the balls and guts from which he has been
at least partially conceived and created, from which he has
been begot. The Poet asks us why there is a "weird gaze"
on our faces. But only Poets know that no Poem is weird.
The Poem is not only about the line from which he descended,
but it is about things like PANIC and DENSITY and FAT.
But "traces of words" always "stick" around to enlighten
and muck things up, creating other levels of slippery complexities --
and dare I mumble under my breath -- gaiety and even hilarity
in spite of our ultimate destiny.
"The torso of occasion bends." All of our bodies "bend"
toward a seemingly dire death. But why is death necessary?
It IS necessary, "but words of rotation caulked the seeming"
of it -- ah, caulked the seams of death, attempting to screw it,
or at least screw around with it. Rotating words are being
screwed into the subject of the Poem that it be tightly fixed
in memory, or cemented into something -- anything.
A solid contact is being attempted in this Poem.
Thereby the Poet can at least temptor pre-tempt
a heads-up about the memories that are being
stirred-up and aroused by the rotating words of the Poem.
(And it is not an error to admit that all feelings
are inundated with pain.)
The Poet is stalking all of the words in his Poem
from a "promontory" that he himself has constructed
that he might see what the heck is being destroyed
and re-created, particularly about the subject
of the Poem which is the opposite of death.
All the while this is simultaneous with the unruly memories
and things that are "sliding" and slithering away,
away from the Poet's heart and brain and grasp.
Is the Poem the Poet's attempt to harness something solid
and permanent out of the mess that is the opposite of death?
"Each word conks oboe with a browbeat."
The beat is the rhythm of the coming of death,
and the echoes of deaths that are no longer coming
because they occured, and now nothing remains
but memories -- the remains of memories. So?
"Express words in digits of computed aggression..."
The Poet implies that the complexity of a Poem
can mar the description of anything, even a pond.
But can a Poet ever possess enough words?
Are words the problem, or is it the fault of each Poet
in how they are abused? A Poem can express
the love one possesses for anything. This Poet,
in this Poem, is expressing his love for the Spirit,
Soul, and Body -- for the flesh and blood
that once was here, and is now gone -- yet here
in memories and a Poem, and never totally gone.
Love, memory, a Poem -- are all of these things
only concepts, ideas, structures of words,
foaming words, words foaming at the mouth?
Are words only "the equivalent of lint?"
The Poet's message to us seems to be that
the unconscious experience of the opposite of death
is sacred, and the conscious experience of it
is shocking and spectacular. Whoever you are,
wherever you are, whatever you are --
if you are not dead -- "PANT" in awe.