A negative construct, the tree in the sun through a tree, the building in they built the building for its space, the space we can still see before exterior walls and windows and a roof. Is it a building yet, steel-forms, concrete, span, and how unlike the human body is this building built at its final scale, adding layers or being layers, the bricklayer with a t-shirt bandanaed around his nose and mouth, the bricklayer below the sky-isn’t-blue-above-this-blue tarp, growth rings of plans and colors. Image of a microscopic building set among life (the book of common flowers with its names and full-page plates) and detritus — mineral, organic, once manufactured — of a wasteland, gestating. At what point in the building is space enviable? Union stickers on a construction helmet (yellow) hanging from a young woman’s backpack. Clothes are constructed from pieces, after the gestation of elements — silk, oil, cotton; we were injected into a mold that can be removed and outlasts what it’s shaping, unlike the wax that makes a single ring with figures out of its own disappearance, nothing created or destroyed but lasts in other forms. Dreams, coral, laws, rock walls, rules, handclaps accumulate.
The patience of the trees or the patience in the man who grows them — vivacious abominations, how superb to say there is a third possibility. To say there is a third possibility going out and never coming back while staying home and never leaving out. Nothing says, in the grid of associations’ dark wood of roots and swaled flowers in the meadow, or in the grammar grid I see in the filigreed moon, with airplanes in the role of denial of the thread and grain, that they are mornings that come after naps called evenings, the lake darkening the relaxation of hard labor, a black chiffon dress on the assembly line lowered, like a sunrise, over rattlesnakes, irrigation tunnels, illegal imprisonment on the road that led to the station wagon, its backwards face facing the criminal route through the desert/mountains. Every room has a ceiling if only to stand up and bang someone’s head on it, dazed and happy, freed by that sky of the remote possibility of evening’s barbaric safety-net, yet sandy and wireless. But the orders had stayed with us, even carried us, and we rolled in the grass “above” the lake as if it were the mother of all free time. In the allegory of the graph on graph paper, now stooped inside the mine, now hunched and awkward as a low truck, now a splintered movement in the Open Air, we were glowing with delight. A rebuke in the form of a continuance, a continuance in the rebuke slammed into not to miss the plot whose form we filled, squeezing into the wood full of spaces as it was dark, grateful it seemed to us in the grass, our narrow freedom to be touched, giving up the movement of the world in rift, clouds misnamed as cloak or veil, far at last from the secret of things.
Statement on Poems
These poems are pages 6 & 8 of Little Prose in Poems. The manuscript is comprised of 57 prose poems, written in the several years after my last book, Shelley Gave Jane a Guitar, as a revolt against the line (the end) and a revision for the sentence, the paragraph, the page. The first, though no longer the first in the book, was written during my reading of Francis Ponge’s The Making of Le Pre, which reproduces his notes toward the poem Le Pre alongside a translated type-written transcription. That meadow and that thinking toward completion are both sources for the form. A bit later, with many of the poems underway, I thought of writing 50 prose poems as an imaginary completion, an echo or a shadow (hence the title) of Baudelaire’s planned 100 Petits poèmes en prose. This manuscript, then, became a project only after the fact, or in response to the fact, of the poems’ emergence. Reaching the margin was the only restriction I consistently found, against which ongoingness each poem sought its end.
Richard Meier is the author of two books of poetry, Shelley Gave Jane a Guitar and Terrain Vague, both available from Wave Books. He lives in Madison and Chicago with other people and a cat and is currently writer-in-residence at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI.