Saturday, July 19, 2008


Honest, this is just how it was, a pile of trash flowing in and through and over the can.  Nice.  

I am reading "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men," by James Agee and Walker Evans.

"And now as by the slipping of a button, the snapping and failures on air of a spider's cable, there broke loose from the room, shaken, a long sigh closed in silence.  On some ledge overleaning that gulf which is more profound than the remembrance of imagination they had lain in sleep and at length the sand, that by degrees had crumpled and rifted, had broken from beneath them and they sank.  There was now no further extreme, and they were sunken not singularly but companionate among the whole enchanted swarm of the living, into a region prior to the youngest quaverings of creation.    (We lay on the front porch:

This book has grabbed me by the jelly-roll.  It was written when, as is written on the back jacket "...the summer of 1936, James Agee and Walker Evans set out on assignment for Fortune magazine to explore the daily lives of sharecroppers in the south  ...unsparing record of place, of the people who shaped the land... unrelentingly honest..."

I cannot leave it alone.  It haunts me.  My friend Gail gave a fabulous workshop for our writer's group exploring "Place," how it informs us, influences us, even creates us.  She read from this book and I was deeply (and continually, it appears) moved by it.  On a comical note, Mr. Agee used punctuation so freely!  Semicolons, colons, parts of parentheses and millions of commas, making extremely long sentences managable, even facinating and I find that I am reading these pages out loud.  The commas create line-breaks, and the text is turning into a very very very long poem, 416 pages to be exact.

Here is what I am working with right now:

On Beginning "In Praise of Famous Men"

If any one of us were to plop
down on any one spot of this land
and listen, watch, listen
one would begin to hear the stories
of this place, this patch of grass
this hill or valley 

It takes a special kind of listening; past
motors, wheels on pavement, hurtling bodies
of steel, past the whine of rolling rubber tires

past distant roring of trucks or Harleys
or jets streaming silver tailings
past birdsong and twitters hidden in blackberry
brush, or spruce or cottonwood.  Past soaring
osprey or turkey vulture standing 
phonix-style atop the power pole

past the hum of the high voltage wires
wind in the pines, current riffling over
smooth river stones.  Past all this teeming
life on the surface, to under

like turning over a big rock in shallow water
under it, when the water settles some
creatures and moss waver in the brightness
or, under the grass roots push deeper
moles grind holes for nests, earthworms
squeeze moist tunnels, mycelium moves

and listen here, where it appears there is no
thing to hear.  this is where stories begin
this is how I weep, walking across the Plaza
past Victorian palms, under now green Tamarac
walking across the village to Medicine Woman's
dwelling, entering into the close thick air
sheltered, tutored, mentored


No comments:

script type="text/javascript" src="">