Thursday, June 23, 2011

Coming home, going away

When I first learned
I went home to lie down.
The fear in me took me by the throat.

What I had wished for - 
   that my life
Would be a hook, and the hook a paradigm
Whose knowledge would be impossible to bear
Even as I braced and kept bracing
To bear it -
   had been granted.

Until then I had loathed
My safety -
   now I saw disaster
In the hanging baskets of fuchsias, the fig tree
Littering the yard with leaves, the staghorn ferns
Thrusting into the air, the eucalyptus strewing scaly bark
Like shed skin, in the intolerable, unlivable
Eden of my mother's garden ...

   She put out her hand
To rest it on my shoulder
   and I stiffened as if I had been stung.

Our imagery of fashion is absolutely saturated in the telling recurrence of fantasies of suffering, danger, indeed of the fashionability of such fantasies. This circumstance is offered many permissive explanations, all meaning scrupulously well, we can't doubt. Such sagacity is of a piece with the culture of put on a pretty record, the Gurney-esque mantra of the cocktail hour. Hence, the recurring riposte of the ostentatiously unpretty record is less an embarkation on a style than another pressing of the same strange fruit, a complaint in what we take to be desire that will not go away.

Tom Sleigh
  Ending [fragment]
Phoenix Poets 
University of Chicago Press, 1990©


  1. uiiih ... so sexy... the picture on the top :-)

  2. Why, Jeremy, it's interesting that you should say that, because you can have no idea how hard it is to find a portrait, anymore, of someone simply reclining alone. I was thinking of doctoring the text, or even resorting to cats, when this was offered, and in my haste I admit I forgot entirely to study it for any other amenity - of which, need I say, one would be the last to be the judge. May I take this finding as a form of approval?