Henri Bergson, in his essay “Laughter and the Meaning of the Comic,” reminds us that we laugh at a joke before we cognitively, logically, appreciate why it’s funny. In the same way, I can feel the amplification of an idea surfacing in a sentence before I consciously know its value. I listen with my skin for a shiver, as well as with my inner ear for the kind of amplification I know best in the natural world. If the language does not give me these sensations, then I’ve not yet undraped the work successfully.
In After Urgency, there are a number of poem series, and each navigates the use of the sentence differently. But, in most of the series in the book, I’ve been writing long sentences, which is a very different approach than I used in my previous book. Sinuous sentences have let me deepen into a more dream-like state and follow the work beyond my usual limitations. While all the poems I am writing now are not obviously travelling in the landscape of death, all of the work seems, of its own accord, to be drawing me toward an enlarging awareness of what it means to me to seek amplification and express it in language. Here is one poem, as an example of this work, which is one long sentence in length:
How to draw the constantly shifting selves together around an object of
scrutiny and let this simply be the way that it’s raining again outside, so
lightly, hardly more than fog, so that I leave behind my umbrella, open the
door, then decide to just stand at the very edge of the front porch, neither
immersed in, nor protected from the suffusion in the air of nearly
I’ve begun to ask myself: does the act of writing have the aptitude to “hear” death? an aptitude that I have only begun to attempt to cultivate in my writing. Is an awareness of death physically a form of listening with more of my body than I thought possible?