Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In language, poetry has the quality of the punctum. In other words, the reader is rewarded for his/her savoring of language by allowing that language to intrude into one's sense of timing.  The breath and the heartbeat are invited to participate in the word structure, thus allowing language itself to penetrate the body. When that resolution moves the lingering reader into dangerous territory, poetry is all the more gripping. To really read poetry, one must commit her/himself to a luxuriant, almost decadent expenditure of attention to language.  Poetry requires a slowing down and a lingering gaze into accepting some conclusion -- of course Barbara Marie Stafford spoke of the notions of "slow looking" and the "lingering look" when she was here last week, so I also have her thoughts in mind. 

In this poem, Campo performs a stretched sonnet that forces us into the psyche of his persona narrator, or Jerry's friend. I think this is why poetry has such a unique capacity to memorialize. 

Revulsion by Raphael Campo

I think her name was Carly - no, Charlene.
So fucking beautiful, the way she laughed,
a hardness in her face that seemed so soft.
She picked up Jerry real quick - I mean,
without his knowing it - they dated three,
four months. He kissed her in the parking lot
one night in front of all our friends. We thought
she was a woman, too. Eventually,
he wanted more than just a kiss; she played
miss frightened innocent until he forced
his hand inside her dress. Her bloody face
was in the local newspapers next day,
beneath the one-inch headline MALE PROSTITUTE
FOUND DEAD. I recognized her, sure I did,
but I would say she got what she deserved -
I mean, she was a guy, a fucking fruit.

1 comment:

nsnell said...

"I am thinking not about bradley mcgee but with him. What makes writing the disaster reproducible as a practice for egents is the simplicity of the means. i make an allegory, a figure of thought. I juxtapose some documents frpm two domains..., and the human sensorum does the rest" (Ulmer 147)