Craig Morgan Teicher - Brenda Is in the Room
OK, so I’ve gone off the deep end over this book. And what a wonderful book to go off the deep end over: humane, warm, searching, without guile or sarcasm, it unfolds comfortably through the mental life of a person fully in the now. It references, and pays homage to, other poets without anxiety: Bin Ramke, Rosmarie Waldrop, A.R. Ammons, Sylvia Plath, William Bronk. It’s a leisurely book, but not without its difficulty:
I want to stop time, to stop
the poem from ending, to
stave off the next thing which
might not be as pleasurable,
as much as I want to hurry time
to its conclusion, to pass over
potentially painful minutes
This book was chosen by Paul Hoover for the Colorado Prize for Poetry. I recommend it with the highest recommendation: you must go out now and buy two copies. Teicher’s meditative voice unfolds strongest over his long poems, but something of his power of attention and voice can be seen in shorter works was well. Here’s one, with a playful invocation of Ezra Pound near the end:
A Thing Defined
There is no such thing as a happy
person. The hour has come
for generalizations, meaning
falsehoods winningly articulated.
Person: to stand in the way of
something happening naturally.
Happiness: the metal thing
in a car that goes in and out, making
that pshht-pshht sound.
I suppose this is also the hour
of definitions. And complaints.
Did you ever notice that if you sit still
long enough, you just get dirty?
Brenda says that most dust
is just dead skin cells. What
are the chances
that a particular flake of dead skin
will return, like a migrating animal,
to its native spot
on its former body? The hour
of speculations is at hand! Chances are
grim, my friend, very grim, and
so this is gray weather.
Friend: cacophonous; birdlike; obsessed.
Very: to clap hands, especially
in the absence
of cause for celebration.
The apparition of these raindrops outside;
flakes of dead skin resetting atop live skin.
The hour—of what—has ended.
Hour: a thing defined in terms of itself.