Slow poetry parts one and two

(from an idea stolen from ‘Ethiopian Middle Distance Runners’ by Laurence Crane)

Part One.

We don’t die enough.

We don’t die enough.

We don’t die enough.

We won’t die enough.

We won’t die enough.

We won’t die enough.

We don’t die sufficiently.

We don’t die sufficiently.

We don’t die sufficiently.

We can’t die enough.

We can’t die enough.

We can’t die enough.

I don’t die enough.

I don’t die enough.

I don’t die enough.

I can’t die enough.

I can’t die enough.

I can’t die enough.

I don’t die sufficiently.

I don’t die sufficiently.

I don’t die sufficiently.

You don’t die enough.

You don’t die enough.

You don’t die enough.

Our death is insufficient.

Our death is insufficient.

Our death is insufficient.

My death is insufficient.

My death is insufficient.

My death is insufficient.

My death is insufficient.

The end of my life is not enough.

The end of my life is not enough.

The end of my life is not enough.

The end of my life is never enough.

The end of my life is never enough.

The end of my life is never enough.

The end of my life is never enough.

I never die enough.

I never die enough.

I never die enough.

The end of my / our / your life will always be less than it should (be).

Part two

The wound is said to be everted.

The wound was noted to be everted.

The flesh and skin on either side of the gaping hole was found to be everted.

The wound was said to be ragged.

The wound was noted as being ragged.

The bullet had burst out of the skull via the lower right eyelid leaving a wound which was ragged where the flesh was said to be everted.

Because they spin, it is a popular belief that bullets drill their way in and out of bodies.

This is not the case. Entry is gained by the forward thrust of the bullet, the effect can be said to be percussive.

At the point of impact, just behind the left ear, the skull fractured in six or seven places.

We no longer have access to the skull.

We are working from notes taken at the time.

To be everted is to be turned inside out. The flesh that was pointing inwards is now pointing outwards to the sky. Everted. Ragged.

Others have testified that the head exploded, that the face was gone, that the head was gone, that the face had fallen away.

This was not the case.

We have the notes and the photographs that were taken at the time.

The body is seen to be lying in blood and the right side of the face is a mess but it is still recognisable and it is still attached to the skull which has not exploded.

The wound was said to be everted.

Advertisements

5 responses to “Slow poetry parts one and two

  1. John—yes, I like this a lot. I was listening to ‘Under an Holy Ritual’ by Alio Die and then went over to the BBC and listened to the Lawrence Crane piece—and it works with both. You don’t go so far as suggest reading it to music, but I will. The relationship between ‘minimalisms’ is complex, though. What might work for music might not for words. But I wonder—are we talking about the expectations one brings to music and the expectation one brings to words? Or is it the medium? Something that makes music (more) suitable? And—oh—is minimalism really a good description for a repetitive work? I think of the piece I did on my blog ‘What Emerges’ as a type of minimalism, though it isn’t repetitive. Also take a look at Tobias Wolff’s ‘Bullet in the brain’. It brushes your subject, and it suggests a kind of repetition (They is, they is) but minimal? Hum. Yes, I think so.
    https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/ro/www/LiteratureandMedicineInitiative/20080304/bullet.pdf

    • Jim, first of all I need to say how important to me it is that you like it. I had no idea whether it would strike any kind of chord with anybody else but nevertheless felt the need to put it on the blog.
      I’ve been struggling with this theme at the other end of the spectrum, for the last fifteen months I’ve been pouring more and more words into something that was both very long and very dense. Listening to the Crane piece the other night I realised that I was listening intently to the repetition and that the small change when it came really caught my attention. I then decided to see if there was any ‘mileage’ in doing this with words. I’ve been carrying around the not dying enough theme for a while as encapsulating what I was trying to say in the longer piece.
      Thank you for the Wolff thing – even with all the words produced I still hadn’t got to the journey through the brain. I see what you mean about ‘What Emerges’, I think the relationship between minimalism and repetition is what’s guiding my thoughts at the moment.

  2. The bullet piece is rather good, thanks Jim.

    John- I think this is rather good too, in a different way.

  3. The bullet piece was, to me, somewhere between poetry and short storytelling. I really liked the ideas in it, about memories. I liked that we were told all the things that could have happened, that did not. I liked that we had no idea why he was so amused by the absurdity of the situation, it left me with lots of questions, which is good.

    I enjoyed Dad’s poem in a different way. I’m an archaeologist, and I’ve studied some forensic science as a result. It was interesting to me to read the nuanced repetitions of the wound description; I didn’t need a definition of ‘everted’. I heard several voices reading the second part of the poem. Two things struck me; it was in part the second person, the passive voice, and the repetition-with-variation. It seemed to me to be someone (a journalist?) trying to make sense of something technical and cold (pathological), trying to find the right words to adequately express the violence done to a body. The undercurrent of it was thinking about the pathologist him/herself trying out different ways to describe the awfulness.

    There seems to be, to me, a sort of collectivity too, that these are voices trying to build and agreed upon description. But that might have formed since talking to Dad about reading the witness statements; I am not sure I would have arrived at it without context.

    The first part of the poem forces (demands?) you to read it differently. I can’t be read like normal prose, with your eyes sliding over whole sentences and working out sense. It makes you pay attention to each word, and each letter of each word, to truly read. It primes you for the second half. I don’t think the second half would have the same impact, were you not primed to read it in a particular way. It would be too easy to let your mind slide over the words, without thinking about what they really mean. The slow reading of it, the slow picture that builds up makes the whole act of violence on the person more present and real. It’s a lingering, questioning close up rather than jump-cut action gore.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s