On the first reading
A locomotive rhythm propels me through the lines driving me from one syllable to the next. A hunger in the sounds claws at the words to reach deep in my mind’s eye conjuring images of a man standing at a microphone eyes closed coughing line after line into the air falling on ears drowning thoughts out of blank stares soaked with yesterday’s tears. I’m left wondering when this force shoved my head into its vise grip.
Who gives way to what. The Fates are there. A god appears. Denver takes a beating. Sex’s scent rides high over the pages. There is dirt and anguish and women and men.
Was there laughter?
There was pounding sound. There was a beat. There was a need to move on on on.
I do not sense a wood fire. This is a modern, internal combustion. Sparks ignite gas, and a thousand intimate hopes burn through the paper and drive the pistons to push and pull on on on.
There were commas. Were there periods? Did anything stop? I don’t remember rest. I remember need.
The second reading
There was one period. And I’m out of breath! The words! They come relentlessly driving me over the cliff.
The rooms are unshaven. Purgatory is not a place but an active force. The ashcans scream. And what is a “kind king light of mind”? How does a mind illuminate? “Grandfather night” smiles on us all and gives us just a line or two of rest. “Hotrod-Golgatha jail-solitude watch” reaches in and twists me.
The commas are not punctuation. The lack of commas speaks of need to make language.
“What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?” Oh, God! What sphinx indeed?! I am laid waste. My breast is open, and my beating heart is there to be eaten.
I have so many questions. Why does this make me want to rush to the corner to buy a pack of cigarettes?
Need. Hunger. Want.
Breath. Sound. Rending.
I forgot how to read. I must learn again.
When most I wink then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected,
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
Then thou whose shadow shadows doth make bright
How would thy shadow’s form, form happy show,
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
How would (I say) mine eyes be blessed made,
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade,
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.
Shakespeare’s sonnet 43 instructs us to see best with eyes closed and to ignore the objects of the mundane day, for it is in sleep’s dreams that light shines, eyeing love.
Shadows brighten at the passing of sightless eyes.
The poet breaks the fourth wall. and he questions the wide world to instruct on how to see by day what lies heaviest on sleeping lids.
While others spend their days as others might, the man waits for night’s bright dreams to see his beloved.
Never, never may the fruit be plucked from the bough
And gathered into barrels.
He that would eat of love must eat it where it hangs.
Though the branches bend like reeds,
Though the ripe fruit splash in the grass or wrinkle on the tree,
He that would eat of love may bear away with him
Only what his belly can hold,
Nothing in the apron,
Nothing in the pockets.
Never never may the the fruit be gathered from the bough
And harvested in barrels.
The winter of love is a cellar of empty bins,
In an orchard soft with rot.
In this poem, four lines are almost repeated save one or two words. Importantly, those changes are verbs. There is something in the action that the poet wants us to look at closely. In the lines beginning “never, never…,” plucked becomes gathered, and in the lines about the barrels, gathered becomes harvested. The ideas in the words rhyme. It’s interesting that she chose only 3 verbs to play with. Plucked. Gathered. Harvested.
Plucked has joy in it. Spring laughs.
Gathered begs multiplicity. It is full.
Harvested is final. Ripening completes.
And in the end, in love’s winter, nothing is stored but rots where it hangs or lays. The ripe, full joy comes to an inedible sour sweet stench.