April 29, 2009KR BlogKR

Basement Fragments

It is getting late and I am sitting cross-legged on the couch in my parents’ basement, so no, I cannot see any stars, or even a window. “Guilty of Dust” by Frank Bidart is currently my favorite poem, if favorite poems can be like favorite bands when I used to be a teenager in this basement. But I have written so many notes on that poem that they have all begun to contradict themselves. (It is a good poem and it is not a good poem; I’m guilty of dust, but not of my sins, which were purely voluntary, or as GC Waldrep writes “Or not at all voluntary else not pure”; Ovid: “because he is mine, he is not mine.”) You get the picture. Sometimes I fear that I understand no more about my actions than I did when I was in high school. There is this couch, and twenty years, and The Smiths, and Frank Bidart. This is an old song that will not declare itself.

Fragments of an Old Argument That Desire Is Not an Emotion but an Appetite.

In this basement, there is a closet. On the shelf of the closet, I once wrote “I hate geometry.” My sister, two years later, wrote, “me too.” My other sister, two years after that, wrote, “me three.” My youngest sister, one year after that, wrote, “me too and I hate it more than all three of you put together.”

Misusing the transitive property in geometry across a Frank Bidart poem and a Louise Gluck poem (with a line from a Robert Hass poem as a bridge) to prove that fate translates as desire: If “LOVE IS THE DISTANCE /BETWEEN YOU AND WHAT YOU LOVE ,” and it is the distance that creates the desire (“longing, we say, because desire is full of endless distances,”) and “WHAT YOU LOVE IS YOUR FATE,” and another name for the three goddesses who determine the course of life is “hunger,” then, fate means not destiny, but desire.

Who knows what became of my old poster of Morrissey. I heard from a friend that he was celibate, and I had thought, “I could change that.” But I never spoke it.

Fate’s a thing spoken. Desire’s from the stars. Emotion stirs the organs. Therefore, emotion in the stomach, desire in the eyes, fate in the mouth. Appetite is an action: to go to. The Greek root, petesthai, means to fly or to fall.

Many of my friends in high school smoked cigarettes. But not to be cool. They did it urgently, desperately, as a signal, as a sign, as a way to temporarily see what they desired drift before them. Really. Or not really. To paraphrase and corrupt something that I think Frank Bidart once said, The soul does not want to be vapor but translated into matter.

In the geometry-haters’ closet is a container of notebooks I used to keep. I will never read them. Not because I fear they will seem strange but because I fear they will seem so familiar. From Bidart’s “The Second Hour of the Night”

I fulfill it, because I contain it–
it prevails, because it is within me–