Category Archives: typed up

The House Of Paper

One day in the spring of 1998, Bluma Lennon bought a secondhand copy of Emily Dickinson’s poems in a bookshop in Soho, and as she reached the second poem on the first street corner, she was knocked down by a car.

Books change people’s destinies. Some have read The Tiger of Malaysia and become professors of literature at remote universities. Demian converted tens of thousands of young men to Eastern philosophy, Hemingway made sportsmen of them, Alexandre Dumas complicated the lives of thousands of women, quite a few of whom were saved from suicide by cookbooks. Bluma was their victim.

But not the only one. An elderly professor of classical languages, Leonard Wood, was left paralyzed after being struck on the head by five volumes of the Encyclopedia Britainnica that fell from a shelf in his library; my friend Richard broke his leg when he tried to reach William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, which was so awkwardly placed he fell off his stepladder. Another of my friends in Buenos Aires caught TB in the basement of a public archive, and I even knew a dog from Chile that died of indigestion from swallowing the pages of The brothers Karamazov one afternoon when rage got the better of him.

Whenever my grandmother saw me reading in bed, she would say: “Stop that, books are dangerous.” For many years I thought she was simply ignorant, but the passage of time has shown just how sensible my German grandmother was.

– Carlos María Domínguez

13 Piercings & Still Not Punctured

Youth, how wonderful to sit with you
in the cafeteria, you make Shiva
look like an amputee. I like this jelly,
I say, how they left in the seeds.
Yeah! You pop, and the fact that it’s flying
at such high speed! Youth, to be with you
is to drive the interstate without a windshield.
No wonder you can hardly stay in your clothes
and therefore wear almost none. I doubt
it’s possible there’s a death’s head
under all the phosphorescent flesh
glued over an antigravitational fuselage
sponge-side down. Even in the classroom,
you’re alpine skiing, spectacular wipeouts
even reading Wordsworth: proof he smoked
dope, plagiarized Tennyson, his dependence
on recollection really on forgetting.
Youth, your brain is more hand grenade
than a stack of scholastic slugs, tattoo
barbed wire circles your bicep, eighth notes
home in on your honeyed crotch, even
your barrette shouts, Get out of my way!
How is possible for you to fall apart
every hour and still hop up for curtain calls?
Youth, I remember when I was always late
because I had so much time. You were waiting
then you hurried on.

– Dean Young

Blackberry Eating

I love to go out in late September
among fat, overripe, icy, blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry-eating in late September.

– Galway Kinnell

The House Of Paper

I have often asked myself why I keep books that could only ever be of any use in a distant future, titles remote from my usual concerns, those I have read once and will not open again for many years, if ever!  But how could I throw away The Call of the Wild, for example, without destroying one of the building bricks of my childhood, or Zorba the Greek, which brought my adolescence to a tear-stained end, The Twenty-Fifth Hour and all those other volumes consigned to the topmost shelves, where they lie untouched and silent in that sacred trust of which we are so proud.

It is often much harder to get rid of books than it is to acquire them.  They stick to us in that pact of need and oblivion we make with them, witnesses to a moment in our lives we will never see again.  While they are still there, it is part of us.  I have noticed that may people make a note of the day, month, and year that they read a book; they build up a secret calendar.  Others, before lending one, write their name in the flyleaf, note whom they lent it to in an address book, and add the date.  I have known some book owners who stamp them or slip a card between the pages the way they do in public libraries.  Nobody wants to mislay a book.  We prefer to lose a ring, a watch, our umbrella, rather than a book whose pages we will never read again, but which retains, just in the sound of its title, a remote and perhaps long-lost emotion.

– Carlos María Domínguez

Bunny Tract

Primarily by zigzags like a poem,
bunny moves. Out of base material,
grass is arranged. Certainly, bunny
has much figured out. Quickly, it converts
fear of death, starvation, boredom
into giddy-up, part Chinese checker,
part quantum which is here or there
but never in between. Cherished
by Plains Indians was bunny’s power
to disappear by holding very still.
The ancient poet wakes, a bit hungover,
footprints of his friend in new snow
going down the hill, bunny dances
on the edge of the abyss. A cactus
has less in common with static
than a thistle with a kestrel. Baseball
is full of superstition because
it’s surround by infinity, played
on a diamond formed by multiples of three.
Full of funny hops, bunny twitches,
procreates, kept alive by a curious,
somewhat gross digestive practice
and, perhaps in recompense, excessive
cuteness except for cousin jackrabbit
who looks like those late photos
of Artaud. To give a jackrabbit shock
therapy would be redundant though.
Bunny glimpsed by headlight: sailor’s
delight; bunny in morning red:
might as well stay in bed. Bunny
munches its radish leaves without irony.
Without irony, bunny dashes down the hole.
A sense of incongruity, feigned ignorance,
or the doubleness of being one place
but feeling you are another is solely
a human blessing/curse, an aid perhaps
in traffic jams but much worse trying
to embrace a lover and feeling stuck again
in the third-grade cloakroom, whiffs of glue.
It is times like these it seems bunny
knows exactly what to do, flee then stop
and disappear but friend, our work is dark
in a darker world of not leaping in the sun
much. Nerves live in the wormwood.
Every canoe is a sad canoe. Bunny
hops in the vetch but whatever holds us
in its mouth hasn’t decided yet to bite
or drop us in a fluffier nest.

– Dean Young

Luciferin

“They won’t attack us here in the Indian graveyard.”
I love that moment.  And I love the moment
when I climb into your warm you-smelling
bed-dent after you’ve risen. And sunflowers,
once a whole field and I almost crashed,
the next year all pumpkins! Crop rotation,
I love you. Dividing words between syl-
lables! Dachshunds! What am I but the inter-
section of these loves? I spend 35 dollars on a CD
of some guy with 15 different guitars in his shack
with lots of tape delays and loops, a good buy!
Mexican animal crackers! But only to be identified
by what you love is a malformation just as
embryonic chickens grow very strange in zero
gravity. I hate those experiments on animals,
varnished bats, blinded rabbits, cows
with windows in their flanks but obviously
I’m fascinated. Perhaps it was my early exposure
to Frankenstein. I love Frankenstein! Arrgh,
he replies to everything, fire particularly
sets him off, something the villagers quickly
pick up. Fucking villagers. All their shouting’s
making conversation impossible and now
there’s grit in my lettuce which I hate
but kinda like in clams as one bespeaks
poor hygiene and the other the sea.
I hate what we’re doing to the sea,
dragging huge chains across the bottom,
bleaching reefs. Either you’re a rubber/
gasoline salesman or, like me, you’d like
to duct-tape the vice president’s mouth
to the exhaust pipe of an SUV and I hate
feeling like that. I would rather concentrate
in the rapidity of your ideograms, how
only a biochemical or two keeps me
from becoming the world’s biggest lightning bug.

– Dean Young (Embryoyo)

Something Wicked This Way Comes (Chapter 14)

For, he thought, it’s a special hour. Women never wake then, do they? They sleep the sleep of babes and children. But men in middle age? They know that hour well. Oh God, midnight’s not bad, you wake and go back to sleep, one or two’s not bad, you toss but sleep again. Five or six in the morning, there’s hope, for dawn’s just under the horizon. But three, now, Christ, three A.M.! Doctors say the body’s at low tide then. The soul is out. The blood moves slow. You’re the nearest to dead you’ll ever be save dying. Sleep is a patch of death, but three in the morn, full wide-eyed staring, is living death! You dream with your eyes open. God, if you had strength to rouse up, you’d slaughter your half-dreams with buckshot! But no, you lie pinned to a deep well-bottom that’s burned dry. The moon rolls by to look at you down there, with its idiot face. It’s a long way back to sunset, a far way on to dawn, so you summon all the fool things of your life, the stupid lovely things done with people known so very well who are now so very dead – And wasn’t it true, had he read somewhere, more people in hospitals die at 3 A.M. than at any other time . . . ?

Stop! he cried silently.

“Charlie?” his wife said in her sleep.

Slowly he took off the other shoe.

His wife smiled in her sleep.

Why?

She’s immortal. She has a son.

Your son, too!

But what father ever really believes it? He carries no burden, he feels no pain. What man, like woman, lies down in the darkness and gets up with child? The gentle, smiling ones own the good secret. Oh, what strange wonderful clocks women are. They nest in Time. They make the flesh that holds fast and binds eternity. They live inside the gift, know power, accept, and need not mention it. Why speak of Time when you are Time, and shape the universal moments, as they pass, into warmth and action? How men envy and often hate these warm clocks, these wives, who know they will live forever. So what do we do? We men turn terribly mean, because we can’t hold to the world or ourselves or anything. We are blind to continuity, all breaks down, falls, melts, stops, rots, or runs away. So, since we cannot shape Time, where does that leave men? Sleepless. Staring.

Three A.M. That’s our reward. Three in the morn. The soul’s midnight. The tide goes out, the soul ebbs. And a train arrives at an hour of despair. . . . Why?

“Charlie…?”

His wife’s hand moved to his.

“You… all right… Charlie?”

She drowsed.

He did not answer.

He could not tell her how he was.

– Ray Bradbury