Thursday, February 28, 2008

new poem for poem a day (more like poem every few days? poem-a-week?)

Overeducation Blues

The relentless evisceration of texts has got me down.
the combing and picking and teasing out occult meaning,
the contexualizing and histori-izing and criticizing.
I’m a demoralized dessicated ossified scholar
With inkstained fingertips and eraser smut on my lap,
a wonky wandering eye, twitching wrists, and a crookback.

What happened to curling up with a old book in a
warm bethrowrugged nook? A mug of tea and time?
What happened to the pure joy of reading for reading’s sake?
I want to read something, anything sans highlighter in my hand
and pen clenched twixt teeth—sticky flags, post-it notes,
cf’s and nota bene’s, the scrawled taint of marginalia.

I want it back—the plunge into the multiplicity
of universes manifest in the dripping rivulets of whitespace,
the possibility of flight despite the justified typography
(though better than flush left and ragged right)
The simple luxury of the slowly fingered page, flip,
flipping at leisure verso, recto, verso, recto.

Damned! The delight has been dammed,
held back, now stagnant pulp muck.
Graduate school, you whoreson dog!
You’ve drained the river to a trickle, trained me,
pickled my brain. Even a menu must be deconstructed!
Restaurant scansion, counting syllables in appetizers, I’m lost.

Can I be saved? Perhaps there’s a quiet place
I can sit and rehabilitate with a copy of something light
like À la recherche du temps perdu. Dunking cookies in tea,
I’ll stretch out and swim into the whitespace rivers, the
flowing cataracts of thought uninterrupted by editorial,
simply text and text. Verso, recto. Verso, recto.


KLA* said...

As I said, I wish I could say 99 problems but a book ain't one.

This is a damned fine poem about the joys of reading and the horrors of reading as a job. You had me with eviscerated texts.

Proust is light reading? Is that a comment on how sophisticated what you're reading for school is or is that a subtle way of saying you want to go back to your lost time when you had time to enjoy a book, not scour it for arguments and quotes in seven days?

"Crookback" : nice.

jrs said...

No, Marcel is certainly not "light" reading-- in fact, Remembrance is considered one of the longest novels ever. But both of your suggestions are correct; certainly some of what we (the collective "we" in grad school) read is a leetle what, highbrow? It's also true that I'm whinging about having to race through and not allow myself the process-time that I deserve with a text. So, yeah, both pieces are in there. I'm glad you like the poem-- I composed it thinking (as you know I always do) with an eye on sonics more than anything else. It could stand a great deal of revision-- I wrote it in about a half an hour.

jrs said...

Sorry-- the penultimate sentence there should read:

I composed it (as you know I always do) with an eye on sonics more than anything else.