October 5, 2005

no more absolutes

-- by Yakeiban Shukusha

the place on the corner
-- by william matthews

no mirror behind the bar: tiers of garish
fish drift back and forth. they too have routines.
the tv's on but not the sound. dion
and the belmonts ("I'm a wanderer") gush
from the box. none here thinks a pink slip
("you're fired," with boilerplate apologies)
is underwear. none here says "lingerie"
or "as it were." we speak Demonic
because we're disguised as ordinary
folks. A shared culture offers camouflage
behind which we cantend to covert fires
to say, our burled, unspoken, common language --
the only one, and we are many.

used book store
-- by charles simic

lovers hold hands in never-opened novels.
the page with a recipe for cucumber soup is missing.
a dead man writes of his happy childhood on a farm,
of riding in a balloon over lake erie.

a sudden draft shuts his book in my hand.
while a philosopher asks how is it possible
to maintain the theologically orthodox doctrine
of eternal punishment of the damned?

let's see. there may be sand among the pages
of a travel guide to Egypt of even a dead flea
that once bit the ass of the mysterious Abigail
who scribbled her name teasingly with an eye pencil.

after a fight
-- by jeff walt

we sit at opposite ends of the living
room while anger prowls the house quietly,
filling his dark sack with our antique
laughter, our precious mornings in bed, the silver
evenings in the hammock. nothing left
but the sharp words we keep locked
in our mouths and the hard, unforgiving
chairs where we pretend to read.
when I look up, you look up, and we know
something is missing. we stay that way
for a moment, like two people who have heard a strange
noise outside late at night; our eyes bright
with fear, but ready to kill if we have to.

* Interview of david berman circa the release of The Natural Bridge. excerpt:

"M.E.: Speaking of work, I was reading the lyrics to The Natural Bridge on the clock yesterday, when a woman I work with snatched it and began reading it, after about thirty seconds she said, "Gosh, they sure do use the word Cum a lot don't they?".

"DCB: Cum shows up three times on the record. When I was a kid people always used to say "cumbucket". It made a picture in my mind, cum slopped over the edges. I forgot about the word for years until forming this album it came up again and kept sneaking into songs. Cum is a very private issue. The Natural Bridge has a lot of privacy issues going on inside."

* Dusted's interview of berman is much more current. excerpt:

Q: Four long years since the last album; what have you been listening to/reading since?

DCB:I hardly read fiction anymore. Likewise, I don't watch movies. I've been less comfortable taking leave of the world. I read a couple of newspapers every day. I listen to the music on WSM 650 AM when I listen to music. I read the Torah every day. For most of my adulthood I'd been the governor of an inward state, and that just seems morally reprehensible at this particular roadside taco stand in history.
Q: You and your wife Cassie sing, together, "let's not kid ourselves, it gets really, really bad," but life, you sing unaccompanied, is "sweeter than Jewish wine." What gives?

DCB:The statements aren't in opposition to each other. In fact sweetness and badness are definitively interdependent.


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