Susan Briante
Notes Towards a Poetics of the Dow             (page 2)

When the Buddha touched his finger to ground at the moment of enlightenment, all the leaves fell from the bodhi tree. It is February 10, 10:04 in the morning, the Dow falls to 12194. The present poetic strives toward total awareness, incessant recording.

Ravenous as black walnut tree, roots sucking at the sewer line, the Dow touches everything: the taste of our water, color of our sky, torque of our engines. It is February 10, 10:15 in the morning, the Dow at 12203 is rising. The poet—like the trash tree—uses all of it.

A poem moves as does the Dow influenced by a variety of factors and events: mergers, oil spills, revolutions, suffering. Sometimes what does not move tells the story. I like poems that go to coal mining towns and prisons. I like poems that act as archive or a view to Elizabeth Street. I admire circuitry and cosmology. I have a power industry dictionary on the bookshelf behind my desk, a copy of the King James, a guide to Texas trees.

Poems should evidence some degree of control, but poets should be a little volatile. The poem is a high-risk investment, a long-term commitment. Like a big dirty city, it should make you feel

a little uncomfortable.

It is February 10, 1:11 in the afternoon, the Dow falls to 12197. The poet wants to remind the Dow that the bird has something to teach it about song and falling.


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