Public Letter: Gregory Lawless

My son was born nine months ago. Back then he was an un-interpretable lump, surly and noisy, and I didn’t know what to make of him. Whenever I tried to talk to him, he would scream or puke.


He is something very different today. He’s a person, hounded by sharper degrees of self all the time, which I alternately cheer and grieve.


And he is a great consumer! He eats beautiful foods, fruits ground into bright mush, dripping yogurts, boiled oats—a satyr raiding a rich village in the Cyclades 2,000 years ago would have faired no better.


But he eats more than food. He eats memory, too. My wife will sometimes remind me of past sleepless nights, tantrums that blackened a few squares on the calendar, then were gone. And it takes some effort to remember them, even though they walked me so far down the plank of psychosis.


I’m not a person of character, capable of bearing great hardship or mustering much in the way of sacrifice. But, at least, with my son in the picture, I tend to think more about the next thing I have to do, and less about what I did, or was.


So, I have a hard time remembering this book, written in the prehistory of 2011 and 2012. No matter. I enjoy its growing strangeness. I don’t see myself very clearly in the work anymore, but I see the work okay. In general, I think it’s a permissible book, full of omens and weeds. I like all the junk and hay fever. It reminds me of home.


But it doesn’t remind me of me. I hope there’s another kind of poem to write in the future when I have a little more time to spend on these things. I would hate to have to imitate the person who wrote Foreclosure. These poems are scabs and eyesores, broken together by a kind of strain and rage that doesn’t make much sense to me now.


Now I feel like a great forgetter. I have to work hard to think backwards, and I don’t know if art has any room for dispositions like that, but we’ll see. In the meantime, here’s the book. The book, like its author, is from Northeast Pennsylvania, where difficult things (fracking, stagnation, and the like) are happening. Check it out, if you like reading about difficult things.

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