So a page is more troublesome than a chair
or a table: We've learned to expect a page
to talk to us. We expect life from a page
and think of a blank page as potentially
alive, as when, catching up with someone,
we say to the back of a head, "Hey...excuse
me..." and expect that head to turn, and,
when it does, we expect to see a face.
Remember in PSYCHO when we see
Ma Bates' gray hair over the back
of her rocking chair, and the chair is turned
to face us, and...
The shock of no life where life is expected:
"Mom...MOM!" Or the car going dead,
in motion on a downhill, suddenly wooden,
hard to steer, heavy, unmagic. Or after a stroke,
a paralyzed arm, or the old dog, after he'd
quit eating and just lay there in his own shit.
Or, tacked onto a work of art by insistent
investors -- a Hollywood ending.
But I have this backwards: So much poetry
is dead on arrival, a layered academic artifact,
gush of hyperbole full of borrowed passion,
charm bracelet of images with each short line
neatly centered on the page, as if turned out
by lathe, surreal wax museum or blood-bone
telegram, flayed of adjectives and articles --
that it is now a shock when the page
looks up and says something
to each of us.
Note: Here's a shocker: Someday a poem referring to "Psycho"
will require a footnote. Memento Mori! (Sounds of an abruptly shrieking