Friday, April 20, 2012

Aimless Reading: The S's, Part 14 (Peter Dale Scott)

Two Poems
Scott, Peter Dale
Two Poems

This is the chapbook I spoke about the other day. It came from the same series as the ones by James Schuyler & Alice Notley. Published by the DIA foundation. I think they used to print these for each of their readings. When I used to go to those readings in the early nineties, they had reduced the print output to a modest, yet beautiful, letter-pressed broadside for each reader. I still have a couple tucked away in a box somewhere.

The title isn't really "Two Poems," I don't think. It's just that the two poems in it each have long titles that would take up two much space in the index line above and would besides be nearly as inaccurate as the one I made up. The two titles are:

Coming to Jakarta: A Poem About Terror
Listening to the Candle: A Poem on Impulse

I have never read this chapbook, and outside of owning it -- I think I acquired it through the Segue Foundation in NYC -- I have never heard of Peter Dale Scott. His titles give me pause. They seem to want to over-specify something about the work. I'll type a little out and see if my suspicions are warranted.

(Post script to the preceding sentence: Not bad, I'll have to read more.)

from Coming to Jakarta: A Poem About Terror


There are three desks in my office
               at one I read Virgil's
       descent into the underworld

at one I try to sort out
               clippings of failed swiss banks
       or of slow killings on meat-hooks

in a well-guarded Chicago garage
               but the third desk this one
       is where the typewriter

stares at me with only
               a sheet of white paper
       from which my blank mind

is averted with an
               unmistakable almost
       diamagnetic force

as the page blurs
               to the size of a movie screen
       watched by a captive amphitheater

of all the letters there are
               containing among them every poem
       the mean vaults at the back of my head

would rather kill me than let go of
               so I turn back now
       to mock them: Mosaic darkness

constellations of the gulf's floor
              naked half-limbs swift
        alpine cloudburst hail and you

wind-driven ghost of snow
               down the side of the dark
       oak outside my childhood window

with the bling flapping all night
               Why are you here?
       Have you something to tell me?

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