Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Poem Three


“GARBAGE! GARBAGE! EVERYWHERE. START A YOUR MIND TO THINK”

Chamundi Hill, Mysore, India

Suddenly it’s amazing:
An American television youth of so many
impressive detective mustaches
and none of them were Indian.

One lesson from viewing those 20,000 murders:
Everyone who occupied the room, even for a moment, left
behind something to declare their presence: fingerprint, fingernail,
hair, thread, pencil, or, if really dumb, blood.

So what could be brushed,
and bagged into Evidence from
these streets of three thousand years of people

building to a billion, and all that time intent on
shedding impurities,
spirit and body?

What downward path the bloodhound’s madness?

Smells become stinks,
baths become worthless. Enough baths and the river
lies thickened past darkness,
a cow wading in
thousands of empty plastic water bottles.

A billion people means liberty
beyond First Amendment, Hare Krishna
counts as mainstream.

The Times of India “Sacred Space” column often
quotes the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
A billion people you can do what you want.

Almost anything, piss anyplace.
Hope a small bribe can fold up the rest.
The grime fluidity, a few rupees exchange.

At any moment, India sputters,
rags and cartons,
50,000 small fires.

Worms roll into snugness
in warm stomachs of
curled-up dogs with cinder-plugged nostrils.
Everywhere settles the sunken shine of that ash
of what can’t leave here

all the way.

Spongy rot, even on
the blacker edges of the Void,
its faltering fertility
a venereal canker’s pucker.

The Unnamable’s
gummy breakdown to focused convulsions, plastic fruit,
that haughty aimlessness of privately schooled teenage Death.

The Beyond Form
stuck to your shoe.

No wonder the Shanti Guesthouse owners
get upset
if you’re not in stocking feet
to walk across their carpet.

Would you knowingly expose
their home to such manifestations

of diarrhea headache?
Open their door to such gruesomeness?

14 Comments:

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

at the beginning i'm thinking of magnum PI and being a kid, then quickly i am turned around to think of the history and dirt of a place so far away from 4th grade. such beautiful language, wonderful imagery and connections. describing such things as i wouldn't normally think about. as with the toothbrush poem i enjoy the juxtaposition of the US and india.

 
At 1:13 PM, Blogger Brikin Blog said...

Yes, having had the pleasure of reading all of these poems, I have to say this is one of my favorites.

The Beyond Form stuck to your shoe.

Yes, it's actually how I feel today really dense and gummy and mortal.

 
At 1:13 PM, Blogger Brikin Blog said...

Yes, having had the pleasure of reading all of these poems, I have to say this is one of my favorites.

The Beyond Form stuck to your shoe.

Yes, it's actually how I feel today really dense and gummy and mortal.

 
At 2:03 PM, Blogger Brikin Blog said...

Sorry I don't know why it published that twice...

 
At 11:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chamundi Hill, Mysore, India

Suddenly it’s amazing:
An American television youth of so many
impressive detective mustaches
and none of them were Indian.

.....okay, i'm trucking along pretty good right now

One lesson from viewing those 20,000 murders:

....whoa -- murders...what murders? 20,000? hm....what is it in reference to?

Everyone who occupied the room, even for a moment, left
behind something to declare their presence: fingerprint, fingernail,
hair, thread, pencil, or, if really dumb, blood.

.....what room? what murders? am i supposed to know or just let it go?

So what could be brushed,

...

What downward path the bloodhound’s madness?

.....nice! oh shit, here we go...

Smells become stinks,
baths become worthless. Enough baths and the river
lies thickened past darkness,
a cow wading in
thousands of empty plastic water bottles.

.....incredible stanza!

A billion people means liberty...

.....a clean left jab

...

A billion people you can do what you want.

.....followed by a solid right hook

Almost anything, piss anyplace...

...

all the way.

.....very nice spacing of those 3 words...leaning into the following delectible drop-off:

Spongy rot, even on
the blacker edges of the Void,
its faltering fertility
a venereal canker’s pucker.

The Unnamable’s
gummy breakdown to focused convulsions, plastic fruit,
that haughty aimlessness of privately schooled teenage Death.

The Beyond Form
stuck to your shoe.

.....Wow!!!

No wonder the Shanti Guesthouse owners
get upset
if you’re not in stocking feet
to walk across their carpet.

Would you knowingly expose
their home to such manifestations

.....okay -- i want the poem to end right here

of diarrhea headache?
Open their door to such gruesomeness?

.....because the diarreah headache seems peripheral after the three tight smacks upside the head up above (the "Wow"). ending at "such manifestations[?] would also wind up echoing back to the previous images, reinforcing them, which they deserve, since they are the heart of the poem (for me).

 
At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

btw -- i wrote the above comment after i thought i had lost the original. turns out it wound up in the comments for "Product Recall", so you can take your pick.

-Anonymous

 
At 12:10 PM, Blogger pete. said...

You're completely correct about dropping the last two lines. My mentor at poetry school, Beckian Fritz Goldberg (her new book finally came to me in the mail...it's excellent), would often get me to trim off the excess at the end. I'd always take that extra, uncessary step. But then you got Killough always talking about "writing to it"--the stuff you have to get down on the page, to work through before you get to the meat of the matter. It's hard to see sometimes. And even harder to lop off the first five stanzas of a poem and rebuild from there. But that's the work.

I meant the "20,000 murders" to reference that often-quoted, probably dubious statistic about how many murders the average kid sees on TV by the time they're 18 or whatever. I'll take a second look at that stanza.

Thanks for the excellent suggestions.

pete.

 
At 2:13 PM, Blogger Slick said...

i had no problem understanding the origin of the 20,000 murders. you're talking about TV detectives immediately prior, which means the 20,000 murders are the 20,000 murders you've seen reconstructed by brilliant, hard-as-nails TV detectives (or soft as Magnum PI--now there's an article waiting to happen). i don't need to know where the actual number comes from--for me it's hyperbole. i mean, you could probably see 20,000 murders on TV in one week these days, let alone through a childhood.

when you step on gum in the desert, it comes off quite easily. my lesson of the day. back to work.

slick

 
At 4:31 PM, Blogger Chris said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 4:55 PM, Blogger Chris said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trying to stay anonymous here, but am not having much luck....

Ah -- Slick's completely right. I now embarrassedly admit to having tripped over the second stanza completely in my search for an easy punchline.

(Note to self for future: reading poems about TV are not like watching TV!)

If I had been reading this poem among others of its kind, I would have been primed to the layered references and have my double-take ready for action. Coming off cold from too much internet news is my alibi....

-Anonymous

 
At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops -- make that: "is not like watching TV"

...too much internet.

 
At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

American TV youth though I may be, I don't like the start as much as I feel the rest of the poem ... upon re-reading I would, were it mine to, cut lines 2-4 ... "An" up til "Everyone" ... I think this is a sticky and visceral poem and I don't want to share it with Magnum, sexy though his soft mustache may be ...

I don't know who this "Killough" you speak of is but I suspect he's brilliant ...

However, as has been suggested and seconded above, ending on "manifestations" is definitely the way to go ...

Great poem Peter ... nice work ...

 
At 12:20 PM, Blogger pete. said...

Okay, Magnum and the 20,000 murders are gone. Thanks for the radical but right on tip... (don't tell Selleck)

 

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