Drift 7



It’s a phrase that might have come out of an Odets play, evoking an innocence scarcely conceivable today. Nabokov taught at Cornell in the 1950s and 60s and gave us a cadre of writers at odds with any such misperception. But Odets registered the immigrant Russian Jewish innocence lovingly.

Last night I read a few pages of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a favorite book that captures the aura of a block of brownstones on the Upper East Side after rain. The time is October 1943, close to the day I was born in New York. Capote is a wonderful miniaturist and the book is spectacular page by page but doesn’t gather the way, for instance, Gatsby does. The pleasure of it is ephemeral, like Holly Golightly herself, blown hither and thither across the landscape, never failing to catch the light. And like Capote himself, a Southern child who couldn’t really set down roots in Manhattan. Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Really?

As a young poet of the 1960s, Ron Padgett did an absurdist recasting of the Stephen Crane poem “A Man Saw a Ball of Gold in the Sky.” In the Crane poem, the man climbs for it and eventually achieves it and discovers that it’s clay. Padgett reproduced the poem exactly as Crane had written it except that he changed the dramatic denoument by changing one word. In the Padgett version the man climbs for the ball of gold and eventually achieves it―and it’s gold. When the man goes back down to earth and looks again into the sky, Crane and Padgett both write: “This is the strange part / It was a ball of gold / Ay, by the heavens, it was a ball of gold.” And so Padgett’s absurdist variation ends with the verbal equivalent of Buster Keaton’s stone face.

The Library of America recently published Crane’s collected poems, edited and introduced by Christopher Benfey, who wrote a biography of Crane. In his introduction to the new book, Benfey refers to another famous poem of Crane’s. He writes: “Standing in a ‘high place,’ Crane’s speaker sees devils below ‘carousing in sin.’” Benfey then quotes the poem’s last lines:

One looked up, grinning,
And I said, “Comrade! Brother!”

As an admirer of Crane’s poetry since high school, I sensed an error, like a clinker in a piano recital, but wasn’t sure. The complete poem is printed correctly on page 11, where the last two lines read:

One looked up, grinning,
And said, “Comrade! Brother!”

The word “I” inserted in the last line as quoted incorrectly in the introduction renders the poem a kind of pas de deux of Victorian morality in place of Crane’s telegram.

ARAM SAROYAN is a novelist, biographer, memoirist and playwright. Among the collections of his poetry are ARAM SAROYAN and PAGES; DAY AND NIGHT:BOLINAS POEMS. Saroyan’s prose books include GENESIS ANGELS: THE SAGA OF LEW WELCH AND THE BEAT GENERATION; LAST RITES, a book about the death of his father, the playwright and short story writer William Saroyan; TRIO: PORTRAIT OF AN INTIMATE FRIENDSHIP; THE ROMANTIC; a memoir, FRIENDS IN THE WORLD: THE EDUCATION OF A WRITER; and the true crime Literary Guild selection RANCHO MIRAGE: AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY OF MANNERS, MADNESS AND MURDER. Selected essays, STARTING OUT IN THE SIXTIES, appeared in 2001, and ARTISTS IN TROUBLE: NEW STORIES in early 2002. In 2007 several previous collections of his poetry were reissued together as COMPLETE MINIMAL POEMS. He has six titles available now on kindle and nook. http://www.aramsaroyan.com/



Two poems by Justin Clemens

Et en es eh er ed el et ta to ti at an as ah ar ad al ot on oh os oh or od ol it in is ih ir id il ne na no ni se sa so si he ha ho hi re ra ro ri de da do di le la lo li
Post Perec

Ohr-stained L,
Tin-lead rhos
Lot drains. He
Holds tain. Er
R dolt, shine a
Shit on dear L
Il, at shed nor
Shorn dale! It
Is not el-hard.
In hard stole
I hold Ra’s net.

Shore-nit lad,
The sail dron
E shrild not. A
Horde stain l
Ards Hilton E
Lders. A hint. O
Tinsel hoard,
Let a shin rod
Nail red shot.
Shine, Lord, at
The darn soil.

Set-hard loin
S? — art, hide! Lon
E talons hit dr
Ain, short-led
Head. Sin. Trol
L the drains, O
Dirndl-shat eon,
Date no shril
L sated rhino.
Silted rain, h
E sat on hr lid.

It alone, shrd
Or shd, oh late in
Nite’s hoard, l
It sonar-led h
And. Lore-hit, s
Lit-arse hon d
Ealt rhinos.
Hail, snore, DT
S, hard line to
Shield tan or
Shred L in Tao.

Ed shirt lano
Lin hot. Sad re
Al stoned. Hit r
Oan Trish. Del
I loan rent, sh! D
Irest halo, n.d,
Nor stile had,
So dint ear. HL
Trod hail. Ens
Stand, he roil,
Hardline sot.

Halted iron
Threads loin,
Ideal thorns.
Short denial
Sailed north
Thins ordeal,
Helots’ nadir.
Horniest lad
Loathes rind,
Latrine shod
Harlots dine.

Retina holds
A torn shield.
Oh, a tendril’s
Drone as hilt
Holds inert a
Shrine. A dolt
Lashed in rot,
A heron’s lid t
Old retains h
Ints, hoar-led,
Its herald on.

No heard silt
In shared lot
Islander hot;
A drone’s hilt,
Line-hard sot,
Slither! A nod,
Nodal. Theirs,
Near doltish,
A hornèd list.
Holster a din,
Its head lorn.

Lo, nits heard
Or deaths! Nil
Tho I slander
Or handle its
Loaned shirt.
Laden, hot sir,
Another’s lid;
Stand holier,
Retain holds.
Nadir hostel,
It shorn lead.

Shard-lion, te
Ar it, nosh-led
Shred. Not lai
R, not leash, id.
Hoard nits, le
Er at loins’ dh
Al. Set Rodin h
Ard, let shin o
Il rash tone h
Int. Sear old h
Ind, roast hel.

Head nostril,
Dearth loins,
Dilates horn.
H dons litera
L drain. Tosh! E
Lohim stand, re
Tard hen’s oil!
No hate dirls,
Ah, old strine?
Hail, rodents’
Shoal tinder!

Me n me trumpet pick up a poetaser

zappim, grindlelocks! me trumpet bellows like a Hollywood barbarian
i wanna see him spasm like a muthafucka, i wanna smell him shit himself, i wanna hear him squealing all the way down, i wanna smash the cunt like a shattered taillight, i wanna his fear and humiliation coating my tongue like a fine pâté, YEAAAAAHHHH!
So I squeeeeeeze the trigger screaming taste my taser you fucking poetaster,
and the target’s eyes light up like Catherine wheels while his body
engages itself in a spot of electro-muscular disruption — WOW!
It’s a safer use of force options alright exclaims me faithful buddy
as we poke thru the smokin’ ruins of the target’s desiccated cranium,
little bones and fried-hard cartilage crunching satisfactorily beneath
our canes, what sorta dickhead thinks this is just an instrument o’ torture?
It’s stylish for certain I respond as the sky wah-wahs like a favoured ‘70s pedal,
hallucinogeneric nostalgia for those losses we’ll never know
pulsing with the arrhythmia of ancient Chronos with a dicky heart
and a low-cholesterol diet supplemented by regular medical checkups
dominating its mid-to-upper-level-regions — Ah, being a being
in time isna just Cairos nor Aion, but rage and frustration, gah!

Justin Clemens has published several books of poetry, including The Mundiad
(Black Inc 2004), Villain (Hunter 2009) and Me 'n' me trumpet (Vagabond
2011). His most recent book is a collection of art-criticism, Minimal
Domination (Surpllus 2011).


Drift 6

Drift 5