Friday, January 02, 2009

For the simple sin of doing so


Books have the same enemies as people: fire, humidity, animals, weather, and their own content. ~Paul Valery (1871-1945)

Sworn Enemies

Let us begin by calling things what they are—not what they appear to be in moonlight, not when your hands are marauding my skin, not where you fear to tread when you lack shoes—but what they are.

You will give me your name because it does not suit you. Its purpose is lost and abandoned to a kind of forgetfulness you hope passes for forgiveness or clemency. I will refuse it because I’ve mine to disown.

We will set about then for a place on a map we will forget at home, affixed to an easel facing out through a window. Strangers will pass to briefly consider our queerness, our kindred and kinless courses.

They will look in to see us not there and know us for everything we have chosen to leave on this quest to leave everything we are to make for some part of us we cannot become by remaining here.


Time will run to the backyard of every house we pass as we make for territories untouched by less than paw, wing, claw, hoof. We will feel as alien there as we do here, as we do everywhere we are.

One of us will bring it out and set it between civil and equidistant, cross-legged to this purpose of settling and befitting, seated sternly amid apples we have trudged along for the simple sin of doing so.

It will be metaphor and allusion, the sloughed skins of all we feign to carry through this world so that others cannot see, others dare not look upon the burden of our carry, the sentence of such gravity.

Once there it will all become clear to us. We will sit awhile afterward because we choose to do so. This will be this and that will be that. We will wonder what all the fuss was about, pick up our things and go.

Joseph Gallo
November 4, 2008



Blogger Kyle parried...

This makes me feel slightly confused. Bravo for that. And coupled with the images it's disturbing just to the point of leaving me a little adrift, needing to read it again to understand. Congratulations, a fine piece. No scented candles here.

January 03, 2009 10:16 PM  
Blogger Joseph Gallo parried...

Imagine how I felt, Kyle ~ I wrote it.

I told a dear new friend that this piece insisted on being first in the new year and, like her, I struggled with it as well. Written a week before my 56th birthday, I think it was an attempt or exercise at an exorcism or an understanding, whichever left its residue first.

In the end, it one of those remote viewing pieces ignited by the astute epigraph, which I found quite interesting. That's it, a mere reaction to Valery's words.

Blame Paul for this confusion, amigo. ;-)

January 04, 2009 12:57 AM  
Blogger Kyle parried...

Joseph, confusion in this case is meant as praise for the work. Poetry that leaves us in our comfort zone, feeling like we're in the kitchen making a sandwich, is of very little use. Poetry should take us somewhere: out into traffic, or up into the deep woods. And I am still happily baffled reading Frost. You did good. :-)

January 04, 2009 9:54 AM  
Blogger Joseph Gallo parried...

Yes, I actually got what you meant, though I didn't cross all the i's in my reply. And thank you for the compliment and for clarifying it so very well.

Like you, I love being left somewhere I didn't know I was going to be taken to. Like getting on a bus without a number and no specified route. (Sounds like a Brautigan short story, that. Matter of fact, I just made notes for same).

Nothing is worse than a poem with handrails installed to take you safely every inch of the way. Free of the danger of slipping and knocking yourself looloo and tumbling down through a rabbithole in the toilet, or something reaching out from a fogged mirror to throttle the living bejeezuz outta you, why bother?

So thanks, my friend, for your praise, for a lovely clarification, and for inspiring the seed of another short story.

Readers, take note; writers, there'll be a pop quiz later.

January 04, 2009 10:35 AM  
Blogger name of the rose parried...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 04, 2009 1:18 PM  

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