Thursday, October 8, 2009

1. "I want to begin to be regarded as war."

I have started this blog, BOOKS OF POETRY, so that I might start writing more about books of poetry.

I will start with writing about Cathy Eisenhower's new book of poetry from Roof, would with and.  I do not know if you can buy it yet but hope you can. It is thick for a book of poetry and full of formal courage as well as a kind of courage of materials. 

There are so many things to think about this book but primarily among them I think about Ass.  This could be funny -- primarily I think about Ass -- but it is not actually funny. That is, I will prove this is not funny by starting from what is almost the end of the section called Ass: "I want to begin to be regarded as war. / as 3:22 p.m. / my very general, facial technologies, they do so for force forces them to."

At the beginning of the section Ass, in a poem called Film, Eisenhower writes

I can be funny, too, like a member of death renderings privately screened.  Fuck you, I am funny.  The humor is hilarious in its absence.


The bathroom recolonized with yellow lotions -- surround sound growing a monstrous body whose diction extends to your crotch and takes up entire screens.  People with words and mostly faces mouth "I know what that means."

What I mean is that  Eisenhower takes the word ass and moves it off of its meanings. She does this with other words, too, like rape: "we rapes stick together via literal genital contact," and "rape as a gift painted into the postures." The work destabilizes the words but does not wreck them.  These words are not voided: you just can't cash them:
recast ass broader and deeper.

define mobile ass geography, minute lapse between them, caking.

your ass edges toward five feet from other asses at 6:02 pm.

In the same section she writes: "you think of ass as funny. / it is in words, untender distance, are having caught up, are always faces undergoing faces."

What is funny "in words" is often brutal in things. The gap ("the untender distance) between the words and their things can make brutality all the more brutal. So often poets think they are celebrating language for all of its possibilities, but I think, too, poetry can be a kind of war against language for all the ways it fucks us over -- like how it can mean, or not mean, enough.

Now imagine a book that is simultaneously wanting to be regarded as war and is also something like "a silence that possesses / neither corporations / nor god."   I need to tell you that the book is both of these, at least, and  more, a document that makes most things (as most things are work, love, language, mortality, and "the fortune / to have my impulses, good / &evil, tempered / by laziness / and disenfranchisement") animal or alien.  It even almost begins, as I have so often asked for, with the word "Hello" -- 

then "where is my/ mediocre / void." (It's "flying from tree / to previous tree.")


  1. This reminds me of the line in the recent movie "The Hangover" in which a drug dealer is stupidly imagining that "roofies" should really be called "floories" for obvious reasons. But then the holy fool character says, "how about 'rapies'?" and cuts right to the heart of the humor that isn't funny but makes you laugh - the absence of hilarity.

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