Thursday, December 24, 2009

turn left in order to go right

From his book Turn Left in Order to Go Right, Here is a poem I greatly admire: "I'd Like to See It." The refrain--"I'd like to see it that way"--is offered every four or five lines. It seems to me the perfect meditative and yet arbitrary structure to frame an otherwise random series of hoped-for conditions, which range from intensely and obscurely personal to geo-political. "So I could relax, put on my enormous suit / And ring your doorbell holding my breath and flowers." And also: "For the good of the nation behind bars" and "In order to be able to end war..." The refrain itself, rather than closing off possibilities in the serial quality of the remarks and thoughts, doubles the meaning each time: (1) It would be nice if it were so; I would like to make it so; and (2) This is how I would like to see or perceive or understand this or that part of my world. There's both agency and fatedness.

We at PennSound have a recording of Fischer reading this poem aloud--beautifully. I urge readers of this blog to read the text while hearing Fischer's Zen-ish performance. Charles Bernstein describes Fischer as "incandescently tranquil" and I cannot think of a better example of this hard-to-achieve tone than this poem.