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“henry bores me, with his plights & gripes”

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John Berryman’s The Dream Songs following me around in my waking life, if not the other life too. I should just lie in bed and read it. It is on a table when someone comes in – Oh, you’re reading that too! And then a moment of discomfort with a new student (what to say what to say) broken when, at my prompt about what he is most interested in at the moment, he says at the moment, I’d have to say The Dream Songs. I tell him he’ll read them for his entire life, and they’ll change with his age. Later the same day, with colleagues, I make a joke about the land-grant university system, MFA programs, and suicide…. and Berryman. I regret the joke now, even though I’m sure I seemed very, very clever at the time.

I am not sure what to make of the fact that everyone in the world seems to be reading Berryman at once. It can’t be a good sign, but neither is it the worst. One I linked to, but did not clip in, before: #14:

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no

Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as achilles,

who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.

It hangs on the wall, directly outside of my office, this one. Here’s hoping that you, reader, have no Henry, or that if you do, he keeps mostly quiet and calm. Mine keeps me up, drones on through the parts when I should eat or sleep. For instance, he says tonight: Everyone around me – and even me, for once – is doing so complexly well. But the sky it all takes place against is tinged with pseudo-diabetic shock, colored grolsch and yellow. Each according to her or his abilities, and it is great, but it has jaundice, is translucent but hospitalized. That sort of thing!

(But just look at the insipid painting in the background of #14. Turner in the first stanza turns into garagesale watercolor in the third. More complexly changeable than the portrait that hangs in Dorian’s attic, and then the dog, the tail…)

I apologize that this blog, once proudly about things that mattered, has become a waking/sleeping dream journal of sorts. I keep telling you, out of guilt, that I’m writing that Other Stuff all of the time only elsewhere. And I am! A remarkably consistent democratic socialist, in more genres than ever, and then now here, only this, the uncommentable.

Written by adswithoutproducts

October 3, 2009 at 2:10 am

Posted in berryman

6 Responses

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  1. (repeatingly)

    I will never forgive the universe for its endless repetitions, from the smallest particle up to the largest superstructure. Even you’re at it – Free: The Future of a Radical Price just appeared for a second time in the reading list. I sometimes wish for bad things to happen to me just so that the repetition is broken. They never happen of course.

    David

    October 3, 2009 at 8:28 am

  2. Yes “(repeatingly)” is fantastic and I hadn’t noticed it until you pointed it out. Fantastic.

    I’ll fix the list. I promise I didn’t read it twice by accident. But glad someone looks at the list…

    Ads

    October 3, 2009 at 8:49 am

  3. Low on the Church Steps

    I can only reach to the left,
    I can only see to the right.

    My temple rests on a wall.

    A red light switches to green,
    A squirrel crosses the wires.

    Sparrows chirp with the church bells,
    Rocky roads under tires,
    A bloom town in the fall.

    Someone drives by,
    “Eat the butt,” they scream.

    nick

    October 20, 2009 at 8:14 am

    • I knew this reminded me of some old Sondheim lyrics, esp. horrible when Liza Minnelli sings them:

      Sometimes I stand in the middle of the floor
      Not going left – not going right

      buck

      October 21, 2009 at 5:23 pm

  4. That’s a great last line, nick. I thought of this in response:

    Though part of the rump of life’s steak
    I will endeavor to fail
    In a manner worthy of higher meat.

    David

    October 20, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    • You have our address, don’t you? Okay, we’ll call you…not that nick’s offering was not somewhat ‘greek’ to your ‘roman opportunism’. But sometimes London Broil is not enough, although we don’t want to say too much here about the preparation of Tenderloin.

      buck

      October 21, 2009 at 12:27 am


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