Measured Extravagance

25 June 2002 - 10:30 p.m.

Three Thoughts on Distance

( Fugue Project Twenty-Four)

What are you now? If we could touch one another,
if these our separate entities could come to grips,
clenched like a Chinese puzzle. . .yesterday
I stood in a crowded street that was live with people,
and no one spoke a word, and the morning shone.
Everyone silent, moving. . .Take my hand. Speak to me.

    - Muriel Rukeyser, "Effort at Speech Between Two People"

"Madeleine did literally feel like a different person as she and Cristi followed the track down to the old bridge that had once carried the main drive from the village to Drumveyn. In her mind she leapt and ran, though translated into action this might have been deflating. But just to walk out of the house like that, not to worry about her hair, whether the track would be wet or muddy, whether she would be warm enough. It sounded so absurd; she was glad no one would ever know how deeply these inhibitions had been rooted."

    - Alexandra Raife, Drumveyn

The Blood Already Running There

My hands claw out at
the poems for the painted,
the sticky glasses, the schmutz-smeared piano keys --
I douse my heart in vinegar,
set it out in a bath of lemon juice,
watch it dry out, a dirty brown bladder.

The struggle to stay
with what I call myself
drove me to Amsterdam,
Boston and Edinburgh,
Raleigh and Chicago

    I lived here nearly 5 years before I could
    meet the middle western day with anything approaching
    . . .

San Francisco
Washington DC
-- still I am spilling over the lines
even as I shrink and recede from them.

Across 950 miles,
four decades and a rosary,
a twisted smile addresses its reply:
I scratch at the smile that veils your face.

    - pld

The lines in italics are from Lew Welch's "Chicago Poem"

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