Friday, January 11, 2008

a little lap of Pepsi before I freak out

I drank milk, Mother, in my sheltered home.
I drank milk, and I ate honey-comb.
Now I'm eating goof balls, drinking rum and gall,
wine, and gin, and vodka, and wood alcohol.
Give me ten Tequilas, a jigger full of stout,
And a little lap of Pepsi before I freak out
In the reeling Jericho Bar.

That's Helen Adam and her astonishingly asocial couplets (and an unrhymed line at the end). Note my inclination to compare her to the Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven. And notice, too, that it's the bar that's reeling, no her. Nor us, lured - and in my case, charmed - by the regularity of the line.

I'll add that the move from the sad-pious (or perhaps mock-pious) address to "Mother" (cap M) to "now," a long way from shelter and maternal milk, is a device specifically reminiscent of Lorene Niedecker and also of Emily Dickinson. Although there are no goof balls in Emily, there are turns as daring and as intellectually self-destructive.

Kristin Prevallet has written: "Adam did not function well in the real world. To her, going to work was entering into a world of darkness. She did not perceive of the real world as THE real world. 'Reality' is the undesired world where diabolic humans interact and make each other's lives miserable." (It's an essay called "Helen Adam's Sweet Company" and I recommend it.)

Listen to Helen Adam read.