Wednesday, July 27, 2011


in the key of Barth

If he is lucky, at some point the diligent writer finds himself at a crossroads, a great existential chasm like a decision or a doorjamb. One each side lies solid ground and in between yawns the deep known that will destroy him. He will have grown tired of the side on which he resides (else he will have set it ablaze, in an effort to get things going or instill his life with the fictional drama that arouses him). He will pick up the pen or the shotgun to find a way out. Searching the ground around him, he might fling debris into the gap in a vain attempt to fill it (see Midwest poetry ca. 2010). Or he may describe for the average reader the very average madness, about which we never speak. Especially at parties. He will pause to realize that this madness is or could be the abyss to be bridged and the means by which to do it. He decides on the latter and makes it the moving from the middle of the kitchen to the rusting patio furniture handed down by in-laws to purchase more, just as ugly. It the American way to. The writer would be quick to point out that it has nothing to do with the actual movement from inside to out - which is, as it happens, south, that is to imply down, as in Hell - which gives rise to the aforementioned mad. It has everything to do with the exchange which transpires just prior to this exit, which instigates it, galvanizes it, causing it to rise up from the caste of mere displacement from one locale to another, to the physical manifestation of the desire to flee the scene ultimately. Writers need to include a sense of the kinetic, sometimes subtle, sometimes involving helicopters. To flee the scene ultimately, the scene here being city, state, country, and domestic planet. But no protagonist has been established, but merely implied by all this directional garbage. Nonetheless, the aforementioned exchange which led to the exit onto bland patio begins actually ten years ago, pulling the rug from under no less than all of us. It isn't fair. Writers can't just do whatever they. Ten years ago this September and ends 2.5 seconds before the body is turned and marched doorward. Were the reader the researcher type (and some are), it could be conjectured that this act was foretold even further back, before the marriage. The early-to-mid twenties, when longing for both home and away undergoes a certain puberty, hair, stink, and mood and all. Every compound, does it not, allow itself to be broken down into its native constituents? Though here the exchange, we will call it an argument for the sake of it, is exactly that - a compound and heated at that. I would not call it a solution. The native constituents. Hers: the single mother crone who is to be revered, now broken, spoiled, and parading dour before everyone as if by penance. His: the early outcast complex made usable by pressure on all sides along with the discovery of the word in all its nefarious forms. Together, a joined quest for the new and need for the creation of the old within it. And so it happens, and with success, because time is a native constituent, too, and one which must be taken into the equation. We must not behave as amateurs. Time, the constituent with a timer, expending its own pressure with a slowly growing erection toward its death. The rack. Contractions. In imitation of a worthy narrative it builds to a point of change that must be logical and must contain within it a violence for flavor. So it happens five lines from the end. Her need for the security of the nest and his desire not be rendered insane by it. A door, south and east, slams. Vector forces, cut. A baby cries as it imagines a balloon floating off. A god somewhere in the woman turns away, as the man wanders outside, kicks chairs for looking at, wonders why, wonders how long it will take to write about changing places with time.

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