David Bartone: from Slippage Is a Privilege Theme

that's a flash of insight you see on David's face

This week, THERMOS presents this rolling prose avalanche excerpt from David Bartone. How he describes himself:

Bartone grew up in Toms River, NJ. He has some poems in or coming at Handsome, Denver Quarterly, The Laurel Review. Teaches writing, takes walks, does an MFA at UMass Amherst, lives in Amherst, has cat. He was in Thermos Volume 1 Issue 5.




from Slippage Is a Privilege Theme


The low hollow-like note that indicates the size of the stone.



The bridegroom’s stone, the widower’s stone, the pseudo-scientific stone, the nature writer’s stone, the á outrance stone.



I, the sub-sub librarian of the stone.

The stone merchant, who leaves no stone unthrown.



The one scene that navigates all the literary impulses back to it is, I would have you believe now, not made of stone, but a billowy gray day filled with quacking gray flecks.

About one year ago. Like a Beatrice moment.



Strange, how, briefly but frequently, I then for months believed I did not have the ability to focus on one line at a time.

Strange I did not believe I could write at all if the epic stroke wasn’t in each stroke.



And this is a good thought if it lingers, for it points ambition upward as well as out.



That I was taking in too much on the walks to the pond with her last November when the geese when the pond when the cool on the marble bench made us think of each other naked and single and oh how exact our ages to our desires: all thoughts, all perfections.



This is the closest I will come, in this manner, to narrating the scene.

That you may extinguish hope of finding parable or symbol in some thing that has gripped me because it is now gone and all we have here together is this one pet on this short lead.



A new name for faith: trust that to wander along would be enough to satisfy.



The thin spare between calm claim and calamity.



Given the relief of her company to what I had considered much damage of prior solitude, strange how boldly and with half humor, half pity, I performed all of my tasks.

I perfumed at any task I was handed; and called it flirt.



Call this that ancient want, that old time anxiety.



The self-contradiction man permits upon such aesthetic pleasures.



As if charitable at last, it took months at first to realize: I could not stop writing the scene.



I could not stop the V to the geese.

Forthrightness to the one disobedient.

Salt to his style, to the renegade.

Longing to the migrant.



Days pass and I’m still writing the scene. Months of it appearing to me.



An American Revolution to a war historian.



Thoreau to Ghandi.



Students ask ceaselessly about the ceaseless nature of language and they do it in phrasings they are comfortable with.

How often do you have to write to be great at it?

I believe it is important to answer the question with a response that is true.



As ever, I always am when answering avoiding the emptiest thought I have.

This I call the truth.

I call it also dignity and can afford at least this much of it: that if I don’t mean what I say when I say it, I will mean it later when I am alone, or recounting the events of the conversation to a lover.



When I am alone I am repossessing the second best thought I could be having, as when with a lover.

The best thought is off somewhere, dragging on the stitch of another long skirt, this is called longing and is what I am most practiced at.



I hymn what I am aware of.



Do you have to believe in or just be vulnerable to, to make a good poem?



I hymn them for their singing.

I hymn them for preserving, for the upcoming exhibition.

For being shoal shored.



I hymn about and feel therefore grounded.



My house was always dark and empty growing up (—by this upbringing, entirely average), now I write one poem per day, at sunrise or sunset, most often, and it doesn’t seem to matter which.



Like scheduled insulin shots into dad’s belly.



By this upbringing, I have always understood the V to the geese.



This is a true response.



Though without being asked I could not have felt compelled to assert it.

But this, the cause to assertion, is not what the students are ceaselessly interested in.



I therefore wonder where my interests are going with them, therefore remember.



I answer questions with a pause, they know all of my tricks by now.

It is November 17, 2010.

The point in the semester where by now we have terrific rapport.

The point they all point to the laughter moment in every teachable moment, and having perhaps dumbly encouraged it for two months, I am now beginning to show my discomfort with their mirth, I invent an obnoxious assignment for them to perform, the most beautiful person in the room is the one who seems to notice what I’m up to, I am always surprised to discover who it is this time.



This too is how love’s fallen into.



The person that is most looking at you.



This in the affair is what compels me to make love to her pinning to a brick building at dusk on campus.

That she is looking at me.



How can you refuse him now, I say to the student who couldn’t do the reading last night; the sonnets.

Because he found out his girlfriend had cheated on him.

(I am becoming this teacher.)

No no you don’t understand. With my roommate.

(I too know how to teach his way out of this, I tell him.)

You don’t understand. In my bed.

(It was good when the world was on fire, I say to him.) (But at this I am losing him, his scorn eyes are now fixed away from me on nothing or on some happy campus couple walking in the direction of the dining hall.)



He asks why we always end up walking out of the classroom together.

I tell him how bees swarm up for fear of becoming sediment.

He offers me his daily cigarette. I do not.



One of these days he will sense the mourning period coming to a close.



I must say thinking about it now I am becoming very attracted to his girlfriend I’ve never met.



I am slipping into this old self.

This old self we lug around with the pride of genetic banner.

Slippage the privilege.

I am slipping the pride of banter into this old self.



The reasons for this, upon closer inspection, are not readily available.



In the desperate clasp (the sweaty hold on the telephone)(the sweaty waiting for) I am shy here to accept that I am still without meaningful faith.



The elevation of song: I hymn to him.

And the reasons for her departure are made a bit more available.



The Ohio soil of speech, and his voice is like a brown church bell.

But the reasons she left stay sealed from him.



Remembering the still backyards and listening to an ex-lover’s family speak about community colleges and the rotary, etc; I thought of a paradise constructed.



Though this is not paradise made more available, the fair homestead.

I accept it as a construction, therefore a clue.



Discreet pride in driving past the megachurches.



Slipping from the pursuit, (which I have better before been able to name than now, I admit.)

This the privilege.



Slipping from the pursuit, and I want to call it digression, but it seems more stationary than that.

I want to call it beginning but it feels less like a point.



What if all I do is write the prologue to the epic.

What if the epic I sense never satisfies the pre-inhalation.

What if the ever-expanding lung capacity continues and I don’t.

What if anxiety and modesty have everything in common.

If the search yields more results than I can handle should I call that loneliness.

Or lucidity.

If yields no results, modesty?



The moral anthropology in me dictates: I am mostly looking around outside.

But then there is the question: WHAT IS SLIPPING AWAY FROM WHAT.

(If I slip at least let me be indulgent. Let me look around inside.)



The crooked caw of first person present.



Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: