Friday 29 January 2021


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The Math Campers by Dan Chiasson    {Reviewed by THOMAS}

where the poet writes
or wrote
it was impossible to say
it is impossible to say
where faraway was or why

the reader writes
“it was impossible to say
it is impossible to say
where faraway was or why”
to remember the words
or avoid remembering
but where the poet writes
It may just be my mind, he thought. It may just be my mind.
He wrote: “It may just be my mind.”

how can the reader write
or rewrite that 
he thought 
who never claimed to be a poet
maybe once
how can I write 
or rewrite all those wrotes
within wrotes, nests
within nests
here the poet the reader thought writes 
or wrote about the writing
of the poems he wrote
or is writing or soon will either write 
or not
the poem of how the poem is made
or will be made
or is then being made 
or could be made
or not
in some room of the poet’s mind
or on some paper 
less likely
or in the house of a dead poet
more precisely
On the upstairs deck, I read about
              The deck upstairs. In the daybed
I read about the daybed. In the books
              I read about the books I read.

the poet wrote the reader wrote 
or rewrote
sharing the labour 
each expected of the other
with the other
their separation more a distance of time than a distance of person
not that each is one person
the moments flicker
because time
as the poet’s past is the same age as his sons 
as the reader knows the poet knows
each is not one person
He turned to meet me, but our element was time. He approached me, where I was standing, years later; and I approached him where he stood, but he was too far in the past.
the pages turn the poems turn
or turn again
the poet is carefully squeezed out of the poem
or squeezed in
the poem changed slightly, crucially—
               because, you know why, because time

this slow precise perfecting process
as the poet writes
as the reader reads
unlike these lines tossed off
if that is how to put it
in less than a minute and unrevisited
the reader can do no justice to the form
but to be fair made no such claims 
in that direction
towards the province of the poet
he thinks
I had no real name. I was the channel through which the mind passed, and then I was a gap, an absence, which frightened me.
again this space this wound in time
this crack
where the words get in
or out
this rift between the poet and his past
if only a moment
passed between poet and poem
which is to say
the poet who breathes and stumbles
and the one squeezed out of the poem
or in
from sleep to type
We were held, suspended within the larger dream;
we alternate coming into, then stepping out of, the light.

the poet wrote the reader wrote
if that makes sense
the world wakes up, enlarged—
there is not nor can there be
anything more than this

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