It rains even on who’s wet: POMS 2005 by Alex Caldiero

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Alex’s new work — newly presented, that is, since these are taken from his notebooks written and drawn in 2005.

Words are no longer “enough like things,” a poem in the first volume complains, and one way to read these beautiful little books is as an attempt to assert the thingness of words.

 

SING THIS BEFORE YOU MAKE UP YOUR MIND

that a dream can still happen is a sign of health both in an

individual and in a world

 

if something happens in a dream it will also some how eventually

lead to the exact place where you fell asleep

 

how else do you explain eye-lids? how else do you explain two-way

doors?

 

words are becoming too much like worlds and not enough like things

 

you cant point to a that because it is the very act of pointing that is useless in denoting a thing

 

because is so hungry for its own reasons it never really finds an

answer

 

even name words flake off the very things they would name

 

nunc, he said. and then kept quiet for as long as it took to say it

again: nunc. this time meaning it a little less.

 

now is one of those that say nothing to nobody and is meaningless

if understood

 

the wordmill spins out of control and no one is the wiser

 

come here, he said. it’s going to get cold, he added. the night wind

is going to freeze every thing in its path, he prophesied. and then

he muttered something else

5 May 05

 

If words are things, they can  insist they are things.

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If words are things, Mr. Magritte, maybe a picture is a pipe.

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If words are things that happen in dreams, colorful brains have eyes.

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If words are things, then words can be visible while invisible.

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If your words are not things, this poet, can help you imagine writing in which a name “ceases to be the ephemeral passing of nonexistence and becomes a concrete ball, a solid mass of existence; language, abandoning the sense, the meaning that is all it wanted to be, tries to become senseless. Everything physical takes precedence: rhythm, weight, mass, shape, and then the paper on which one writes, the trail of the ink, the book. Yes, happily language is a thing: it is a written thing, a bit of bark, a sliver of rock, a fragment of clay in which the reality of the earth continues to exist. (Blanchot, from a review by Gerald Bruns of Leslie Hill’s Maurice Blanchot and Fragmentary Writing: A Change of Epoch in the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2012.11.08)

Rilke takes us in another direction, lamenting that things are being murdered by words. He fears the certainty of words that so blithely define beginning and end. He likes to hear things, themselves, singing:

Ich fürchte mich so vor der Menschen Wort.
Sie sprechen alles so deutlich aus:
Und dieses heißt Hund und jenes heißt Haus,
und hier ist Beginn und das Ende ist dort.

I am so frightened by the human word./They pronounce everything so precisely:/And this is called dog and that is called house,/and here is beginning and the end is there.

Mich bangt auch ihr Sinn, ihr Spiel mit dem Spott,
sie wissen alles, was wird und war;
kein Berg ist ihnen mehr wunderbar;
ihr Garten und Gut grenzt grade an Gott.

I also fear their meaning, their play with mockery,/they know everything that was and will be;/no mountain is still amazing to them;/their garden and property borders directly on God.

Ich will immer warnen und wehren: Bleibt fern.
Die Dinge singen hör ich so gern.
Ihr rührt sie an: sie sind starr und stumm.
Ihr bringt mir alle die Dinge um.

I always want to warn and defend: stay away./I so love to hear the things sing./You touch them: they are stiff and silent./You are killing all my things.

Aus: Die frühen Gedichte (Gebet der Mädchen zur Maria)

 

About Scott Abbott

Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University, 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I'm Director of the Program in Integrated Studies and former Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade), and translations of a book by Austrian author Peter Handke and of a catalogue of an exhibit called "The German Army and Genocide." More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as a watershed scientist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a corrections officer, as university students, and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett and our yellow dog Blue. Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
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2 Responses to It rains even on who’s wet: POMS 2005 by Alex Caldiero

  1. Alex caldiero says:

    Thank you for clarifying…my hope for poetry is an end to the dispute between words and things. It seems almost too much to hope for an end to the dispute between what we humans say and what we do. Can poetry find a way? I donno.

    Like

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