Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Lucy Alexander #64 ‘If prose is a house, poetry is a man on fire running quite fast through it.’ - Anne Carson, October 2016.

the man is a smokescreen
combustible his flaming hair confrontation
grappling for water is he breathing that fire? is he
turning to paper? are his words vapour ?
the pages of his skin the ashy flecks the light pours out of him
word’s own headings the font of his footsteps
hastening the clack of his feet like fingers on keys,
rattle of breath, the fire leaping from him

is he breathing those flames? is he eating that heat?
fat spattered walls skin sizzling
the house is akimbo and flailing
how is its rambling rooms now?
the chapters of its presence redundant
now aflame, now just fuel
now the dream of the burning man
running quite fast, is he fast enough?

is he breathing in that stench of
arching sentences soaring themes the ounces of
time worn words clasped in covers that are
on fire now shrivelling under the poem man’s glare?
and still he is moving and flaring and his eyes
are the stuff of legend and his smoke smells of
elegant curlicues phrases unbent and scorched
shriveled into single words while the house

topples, like a horse to its knees and there it
whistles and keens while the man runs on
his hair like volcano is he breathing? how is he moving
through volumes of smoke? and out of the structure
lighting the world, flicking ash out behind him
down the stairs down the bombshell building
the smokescreen of his figure leaps see him there
arc in the sky a sunset orange

a spot too bright too watch for long
throws himself into the arms of the sky
who holds him shaking and murmuring
until he burns out and the rushing over
sleeps dark sleep of the lost and the broken
until the next poem.


  1. I think this is a great model for something we should be doing more of ...

    maybe a model for the conversation in poetry blog for next year

    let's call it the 'take a line and run with it' model

  2. What a hot feisty rush, exhilarating stampede - and ‘are his words vapour ?’ familiar to practitioners of this minority art - but there is always the next poem.

    Strange but the first line took me away to a worry I have that art can be a smokescreen, a device for avoidance, neglect of family, community, nature > ‘If I have spent the day teaching King Lear or Bach, or in front of Goya, I come home and it may be that the cry in the street is muffled.’ George Steiner
    (but distraction is rife, anything will do, stamp collecting, addiction, video games).

    FYI: interview with Carson about her new collection last sunday Guardian [] Strange the power of the word 'quite' in that quote]

    1. I had just read this interview, John! Wasn't it wonderful -- I loved her brevity and the way she undercut the direct questions. I understand that smokescreen allusion, and really I wanted to twist the poem to comment on the 'burning man' and how there might be a woman of water that would answer his burnt questions....anyway....that's more than a daily poem could do for now. But it was fun just riffing the idea. Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

  3. Or a riff, John, on a quote from that interview: 'volcanoes are dead easy to paint'.

  4. Oh I just gobbled this up. And then the interview. Thank you, Lucy.

  5. Ah. That is great, Lucy. Would love to hear you read it!


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