New Year’s Resolutions
January 9th, 2015
“garbage has to be the poem of our time because
garbage is spiritual, believable enough”
– A.R. Ammons
I sort of squirm at the word blog, or the idea of becoming a blogger. The last time I blogged (behhh) I was studying in Spain. I’m terrified of going back and reading those posts, certain I’ll unearth a very distinct brand of naïveté – the sensation of walking into an old friend’s house, and smelling their weird smell all over (people say my house smells like barbecue chips!) and feeling even more painfully lodged in the present, somehow.
The other night I read A.R. Ammons’ “Garbage” for the first time (well really the second, but this time I was much more locked in). If you’re into poetry, read it, it’s totally badass. Don’t worry: I’m not trying any heady analysis here. That’s not what this is. I’ll just say “Garbage” is a rare breed, a big poem, and since I’m a sucker for big poems, it seems only fitting, out of modesty, I should offer up something little in return.
And since it’s the trend in Oregon, especially among those in education, I’m calling this a piece. Which usually implies some sort of directive (which I don’t have) or purpose (getting there) but rather I’m approaching this as an exercise, meaning I can talk about how I watched the Ravens beat the Steelers in the playoffs this weekend, on an airplane (I watched the game on an airplane) flying back from Dulles – I can mention this based on my loose interpretation of form, and knowing that any readership I may have had at the beginning has quickly fallen off by now….
So here’s the point I’m trying to make.
It’s 2015, and in the same night I read one of the greatest poems of the twentieth century I got half-drunk on Angry Orchards and a splash of Fireball (I never do this, I swear). Sure, ten years ago we couldn’t get WiFi on a 737, but arriving in Las Vegas after four hours of flying and a beer still makes you ache. I am going to miss live television, in ten years, supposedly, when it will disappear. I like knowing the present ploughs on independent of me. It’s comforting.
Ammons wrote his poem in 1993 – if garbage is the poem of the twentieth century, trash is definitely that of the twenty-first. Specifically, internet trash. More specifically, anything a foodie on Pinterest decides to write before giving you the recipe and the goddamn picture. Everyone knows we are floating along a river of fragile, useless opinions on the social media continuum, and in my opinion, there are better ways than others to revel in that.
So I’m going to put up some form of content – a piece, a picture, a film – every week from now on. It’s my New Year’s Resolution. I know I’m making this out to be some grand endeavor, perhaps presumptively, that dreadful, malodorous naïveté already creeping up my spine – but why not? Seriously, if you’ve waded this far into this mess you must really like me, or really want to see me fail at something. So leave a comment if you want me to make you a silly wallpaper.
Oh, and below I’ve reprinted one of my favorite poems by James Wright, because in 2015 Google still can’t display the entirety of The Waste Land in a little text box above your search results….
As I Step Over a Puddle at the End of Winter,
I Think of an Ancient Chinese Governor
Po Chu-I, balding old politician,
What’s the use?
I think of you,
Uneasily entering the gorges of the Yang-Tze,
When you were being towed up the rapids
Toward some political job or other
In the city of Chungshou.
You made it, I guess,
But it is 1960, it is almost spring again,
And the tall rocks of Minneapolis
Build me my own black twilight
Of bamboo ropes and waters.
Where is Yuan Chen, the friend you loved?
Where is the sea, that once solved the whole loneliness
Of the Midwest? Where is Minneapolis? I can see nothing
But the great terrible oak tree darkening with winter.
Did you find the city of isolated men beyond the mountains?
Or have been holding the end of a frayed rope
For a thousand years?