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Thursday, June 30, 2016

After Zizagging

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After zigzagging across an open field,
How did I ever learn so many words
I can't pronounce?

After hiding under so many beds,
How did I ever learn to paraphrase
My nose? Eyes? Boils? Scar distribution?

And who was it that taught me to rearrange my teeth?

In darkness, in privacy, I squat, tabulating
My special stink. My breath
Has been mistranslated. And yet,
I can still kiss its veneer, stroke its vinyl.

And yet, just this morning,
As I crossed a seven-span bridge, as I
Crossed a twelve-span bridge, going both ways,
As I crossed and recrossed a hundred-span bridge,
A flock of dun-colored pigeons serenaded me.

Now I will pretend to lug my thin rump homeward.
A Kafka, a Jew, a stowaway monkey: “Hello!”
Freeze dried, flash frozen.






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[Written around 1998, and published in my out-of-print All Round What Empties Out (2003).]





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3 comments:

my name is link said...

Accidentally, I read this when Bach's BWV639 started to play (thanks to Wilhelm Kempff).
The two made a perfect couple, which shared my quivers.

When thinking regretfully of death as the final goal of our existence, what we regret more is the certainty that we are not going to read, watch, listen to, live within, all the real art ever produced before that time.

Painful is too, that we are to forget much of the art we meet in our journey.

Of Kafka I principally remember the phone calls involving him and the Castle.
His failure at peace and beauty, when he couldn't forgive his father in The Metamorphosis.
His melancholy at the sight of teenage girls, because one day they would become women.

Within the Castle lies the truth, all the truth about us humans.
The Castle probably doesn't exist; quivers seem really real though.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi my name is link,

The Kafka line is a reference to his story, “A Report to an Academy.” I also talk about it in this article, "Devouring Jackals".

Linh

LJansen said...

Hi, Linh. Devouring Jackals: another revelatory story. That the jackals only have their teeth reminds me of the oft quoted (about u.s. militarism) when all you have is a hammer, the rest of the world looks like a nail. Linda

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About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.