Monday, September 16, 2013

The Art of Immediacy in Present Tense



I have an infatuation with first person, present tense so I sought out some of my favorites to determine why.

Excerpt from The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood


A group of people is coming towards us. They're tourists, from Japan it looks like, a trade delegation perhaps, on a tour of the historic landmarks or out for local color. They're diminutive and neatly turned out; each has his or her camera, his or her smile. They look around, bright-eyed, cocking their heads to one side like robins, their very cheerfulness aggressive, and I can't help staring. It's been a long time since I've seen skirts that short on women. The skirts reach just below the knee and the legs come out from beneath them, nearly naked in their thin stockings, blatant, the high-heeled shoes with their straps attached to the feet like delicate instruments of torture. The women teeter on their spiked feet as if on stilts, but off balance, their backs arch at the waist, thrusting the buttocks out. Their heads are uncovered and their hair too is exposed, in all its darkness and sexuality. They wear lipstick, red, outlining the damp cavities of their mouths, like scrawls on a washroom wall, of the time before.

I stop walking. Ofglen stops beside me and I know that she too cannot take her eyes off these women. We are fascinated, but also repelled. They seem undressed. It has taken so little time to change our minds about things like this.

Then I think: I used to dress like that. That was freedom.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Language Deconstruction Susan Howe



That This
by Susan Howe
Day is a type when visible
objects change then put


on form but the anti-type
That thing not shadowed


The way music is formed of
cloud and fire once actually


concrete now accidental as
half truth or as whole truth


Is light anything like this
stray pencil commonplace


copy as to one aberrant
onward-gliding mystery


A secular arietta variation
Grass angels perish in this


harmonic collision because
non-being cannot be 'this'


Not spirit not space finite
Not infinite to those fixed—


That this millstone as such
Quiet which side on which—


Is one mind put into another
in us unknown to ourselves
by going about among trees
and fields in moonlight or in
a garden to ease distance to
fetch home spiritual things


That a solitary person bears
witness to law in the ark to


an altar of snow and every
age or century for a day is