As promised, over the next four days I will spout about four lovely things: Property Line by Joe Massey, February by Aaron Tieger, you are a little bit happier than i am by Tao Lin, and Backwards City Review #4.
Thank you for joining me on my blog's unsalted trek into continuity.
FIRST EPISODE OF "MIKE TALKS FOR FOUR DAYS ON FOUR THINGS ™"
Both Property Line and February are products of Jess Mynes's Fewer and Futher Press. PL is delicate to hold, but less like something that will fall apart than something in a wise rest. Or: think of someone making tiramisu in a tin hut, tucked away, under a little rain. That is what PL feels like.
(I think I am going to call Joe Massey Joe, and not Massey. Because he is a nice guy. I don't know.)
And the words: my favorite entanglement of these poems is the one they have with time. The wind you see is a wind from several mornings ago. And everything is in its own stage: fuchsia at one point in their life, mosquitoes at another. Really good writing sort of cripples you, right? It suspends your coping mechanisms in favor of some sudden and flavored sensitivity. If you were to read PL on your bike, everything would start to look like a million unfinished quilting projects. And a tension comes from this. Almost suspicion, but a busted, helpless suspicion. Like we all own our particular lives, our particular histories. But to strange things we render only moments. So we face off—whatever we're doing to each other, it's a face-off, an abbreviated presentation. Cellphone bags "face" the overcast above them, clouds and bags with a lot of story (sorry about the retreat to narrative) behind their situations, both only with their current states to show. I think that's what makes Joe's verbal music so sad and beautiful for me: how those verbs and vowels line up and do so much revelatory sonic work, for only a huge amount of such work can gesture to the lineage of all subjects.
Here is an example:
a wet receipt
You have the web, the wind, the receipt -- they are all staring at each other, trying and failing to hold their cards in, tangled in the moment where their stories intersect.
Is this sort of like the "property line" of the title? This intersection of lineages (that's not a word, btw)? With all the anxious connotations? Like how the hell do things cross into each other, the way they do all the time?
I don't know.
There is also some more fundamental and awesome geography in these poems. Part of it is simply how things get around:
Bees inscribe the fog
into plum blossoms
that barb the abandoned lot's
I mean, goddamn, I want to funnel and inscribe shit. I want to hem things and pitch them. It's a way to see the world that is heavy with respect, as if everything were due a perfect record — and why not?
And the other part is spatial movement, where the camera goes, if I'm allowed to sound retarded. Check this out:
You never even know where you are until you're implicated by the last line. Or that's what I thought. First I read it with someone behind the curtain, a conscious agent I wasn't expecting when the poem began. But it's just as easy to strip out any lingering human identity and simply watch the curtain open. Hell, you can even enable the consciousness of the sounds, call it their little tromp: a missive from the t in "Next" to the t in "curtain," wound through a couple tailing s's to knock on the two t's of "scent" and "parts" before opening "the curtain."
Of course, other more venerated and articulate folks have spoken about the linguistics of Joe's poems, and what a good salad-maker he is, and what a fine fellow he is to have in a knife fight.
So I won't get carried away. Suffice to say that despite all the sounds working in steeltrap matricies, Joe is not just an audile. The craft of the poem above comes from how the poem works and changes and still works, on visual levels, sonic levels, and even trap-door levels (where the words are signifying something deeper, something in a well somewhere). This craft is like using words for all their meat, a certain solemnity. But I can't figure out, I guess, ultimately, if it's for reverence of the words that Joe uses them so well, or reverence of the referents, because he wants to serve his subjects. I don't think these two loves are in "competition" — cellophane bags are just as beautiful as the word cellophane — but there's something there. Another property line, maybe. Another pair of something staring at one another across that line, kinking together or sharing burrs.
I will stave off any more comments and just direct you to scoop up the book. It is like buying tiny contact lenses for the entirety of your perception, lenses made of sugar glass and strands of silk.