The finished poem makes the carriage for the next.
The next poem strives, like its antecedents, towards what it cannot reach, strains beyond itself for the truth it cannot express. It goes so far beyond its original intent that it creates its own atmospheric pressure, microclimate and physical laws, and, even then, strives towards what it cannot reach. The thing it cannot reach is the heat-wriggle risen from a desert-crack, steam-ghosts from the New York subways, some imagined likeness of itself, always invisible to it. The poem smells the thing it cannot reach, draft after draft, tastes it, hears it, touches it, before it makes its final, proprietorial bid. The poem falls short, perfects its own version of imperfection. It strives towards the perfect utterance it will never perfect. It rejects and accepts in equal measure. It shrinks and expands. It bellows and whispers. It wants above all else to honour its encrypted devotion to language.
The poem’s language is organic, and palpable. Its diction demands more and more of itself, aspiring to a language that cannot be spoken. Yes. It wants to do this. It wants to electrode all the dead languages of the world, and speak in them; to invent, out of them, new languages that have never been spoken, like a reclaiming of atoms, of bone-dust, a salvage of ossified minims. The poem’s language will be visible. Not merely in service to the vision that provoked it, but the very thing that brings it forth, displaying itself unashamedly, allowing itself to be seen. Like the peafowl brushing the dusty glass, with its tail-feathers.
The next poem’s primal obsession wears a groove, and plays in it. It burns the groove until it starts to hear the faintest sound cutting through layers of listening, perhaps the sound of a voice so old it faintly sings a song that is familiar but cannot quite be called to mind and therefore creates a further, obsessive need to remember it before it is too late. Snatches of old tunes. Hum to the lyrics.
The poem is stuck, unconcerned with any sort of escape. Its groove is smooth and congenial, like a groove worn by the steady drip of mountain water through limestone. A runnel, a slipway. A neurological path. A groove. A deepening groove in which the poem plays deeper and deeper. Some psychologists consider that obsession is illness, a focus altogether too fierce to be healthy, too rigorous, too manic, too fixated, infatuated; too addicted, phobic: too much the fetishized idée fixe. I suffer from all these symptoms, and therefore afford myself a clean bill of health. The poem is the obsession. Obsession as distillation of thought and feeling becomes the stylus jumping on the crackly spot. Obsession as the repeated, at first-indecipherable, note. The throb, the beat, of obsession.
The next poem glimpses the original for a nanosecond, or the tiniest subdivision of a nanosecond, but sees it plainly enough, like a flashback, a subliminal memory-flash, then spends a year scratching its way back to what will prove the mere approximation of the original. The form of the poem is the carved reservoir, flooded by itself. The reservoir will always be there, primed to be flooded again. The poem is inseparable from the way in which I experience the world. It is the way in which I experience the world. It is the mould-shape of devotion; the very thing that shapes and refuses to shape the nature of the devotion. It is world-wonder; it belongs to no one, to no thing, but itself. It looks back at me with a fearsome equanimity.