Early Morning Delusions of Poetry, The Matrix, and Mark Doty

One thirty eight am, Sunday, April 19, 2009 – I am delirious from lack of sleep and still I am not ready for bed. Two movies have run their course in the background on TNT – the tail end of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and it blurred into The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which then blurred into The Chronicles of Riddick. Now The Matrix has begun. Images and words and sounds blurring into the background so that I can avoid the absence of noise in the middle of the night quietude of Hampden in an old house and Karla in NYC.

I have been transcribing poems from two notebooks into the series “The Traveler Poems”, equal parts travelogue, mysticism, and physics. I am not sure it makes any sense. I’m not sure anything makes any sense this late at night.

Meanwhile, Neo is about to meet Mr. Smith for the first time. He’s going to go out on a ledge, but he’s not going to make it to the scaffold.

Simultaneously, I have been revising various other poems and attempting to group them into submissions. It’s harder than it sounds, finding poems that somehow seem to fit together in a nice little package, and then figuring out where that package should go to when you’re done.

One forty seven am, Sunday, April 19, 2009 – Advertisements for soy milk. Empty coffee mug, tea cup, water glass, and tumbler on the coffee table. Almost empty bag of chips. Ozzy Osbourne screaming on TV. “I’ve been the prince of darkness since 1979.” Briquettes. Annoying people singing about five dollar foot longs (this would be more entertaining if they weren’t singing about sandwiches). Bubble noises from a map popping up red circles. Man running across the desert. Collage of marketing blurring into absurd visions of intergalactic zombies.

Earlier in this period of wakefulness, I had the chance to see and hear Mark Doty read new work in the Wheeler Auditorium at the Enoch Pratt Library for CityLit. I had the chance to meet Doty many years ago and on the opposite coast – the Santa Barbara Poetry Series, the year 2000 I believe – and I remember him being an engaging, affable poet genuinely interested in the people around him and sharing intriguing intellectual conversation.

“Tell me Mr. Anderson, what good is a phone call if you’re unable to speak?” And now Neo’s mouth is growing over with skin. This could serve as a metaphor for the fear of the poet permanently losing the muse. But then they pull out that diode that turns into a little robotic shrimp that goes into Neo’s belly button… and the metaphor falls apart. “You are the one, Neo” – and there’s a conspicuous crack of thunder in the background. Probably conspicuous because I’ve seen this movie a dozen times. They go to the Adam’s street bridge…

This reading was no different. Doty delivered a set of poems and a portion of a memoir that lasted perhaps thirty minutes, followed by another twenty minutes of question and answer. Through it all he engaged the audience with his words, his delivery, his energy, and his genuine love of the craft of the English language. I recommend picking up one of his books, new or old, and diving in. I’d recommend more, but I can’t think clearly about what I meant to say here so late at night.

One fifty nine am, Sunday, April 19, 2009 – Blank space stares up at me. How to pull this blog entry together into something resembling coherence? Impossibility, I decide. What is coherency? Blue or red pill? What happens if I take both at once. What if I shove those blue and red pills up Morpheus’ ass? Dear, dear me, is this what my writing so late at night has come to? An absurd mishmash of jumbled images.

Two oh five am, Sunday, April 19, 2009 – Silence! Power off, television, I demand it. Lights, dim. Sleep, I must seek thee out in the upstairs darkness. Neo, you’re on your own. Good luck, but I already know the outcome. I don’t think this time will be any different.

In parting, here is a heard poem from last Wednesday’s Magnum Opus reading at the WindUp Space. A heard poem is like a found poem, but with scraps of conversation or other spoken words. Here follows a collision of fragments from four different poets’ performances (Robin Gunkel, J Gavin Heck, Ryan Coffman channeling Lady Vile, Ryan Coffman channeling himself, and Chris Toll).

“you mean they were born in the desert?”
“and I’m trying to imagine what the planet earth would be like
if I was captured by Aliens” “the animals singing”
“and we do events in subway tunnels and mental institutions
and all kinds of other illegal places”
“gravity, I said” “with our each blank step”
“will you please pass the jellyfish?
it’s like botox for the tongue” “there’s a skull here
of a mass murderer who was hung in Bulgaria”
“a hand like adamantine seized my arm”
“my mission is so secret I don’t know it myself”
“I drink the hunger” “we sail the stars
our religion is ions” “kill the poets, drink their blood”

Two twelve am, Sunday, April 19, 2009 – And good night.

Two sixteen am, Sunday, April 19, 2009 – Done formatting the text.

Rob: Are you happy now? I’ve broken the nearly four month hiatus from posting anything on my blog. I hope the lack of quality is compensated for by the sheer magnitude of this post.

Two seventeen am, Sunday, April 19, 2009 –

Two eighteen am, Sunday, April 19, 2009 –

Two nineteen am, Sunday, April 19, 2009 – This must be what Jack Nicholson’s character in the shining felt like when he was along in that room typing nonsense into the typewriter. Must avoid the red rum. Must close my eyes. Do not order drink from ghost bartender. Do not spend winter in creepy empty motel in snowstorm with creepy wife and kid.

Two twenty am, Sunday, April 19, 2009 – Apologies for misspellings, incomplete sentences, poor grammar, lack of grammar, lack of coherency, inconsistency in tense or storyline, and general quality of this post. I am going to hit the POST button now. Good night, for real this time.

Two twenty three am, Sunday, April 19, 2009 – This is post-modern (sur)realism at it’s finest. Charlie Kaufman, take note. I am really, for real real, I mean, as in really really real, this time, going to post and be done with it.

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