REVIEW AMERICANA

 

Spring 2011

Volume 6, Issue 1

http://www.americanpopularculture.com/review_americana/spring_2011/tarlton.htm




CHARLES TARLTON

 

Necklaces Pure Silver, Pounded

 

It dropped so low — in my Regard —
I heard it hit the Ground —
—Emily Dickinson, Poems (1890)

 

With nothing hidden, there was nothing to—reveal.  Each action was exactly what it seemed to be.  A promise made was a promise; a threat was a threat. Then, you came in looking so calm.  You had a friendly smile and confident eyes. You turned out to be what I had taken you to be; you proffered no deceptions.

over a painted
crucifixion
they pasted
a clown
with a blood red nose

rocks thrown
maliciously
down the well
still
sound hollow

Imagine a barn.  If you’re the farmer, this is just a building for sheltering animals, for the storing of grain, fodder and tools.  The word barn, however, echoes, first of all, with the barley for which it was originally the house; (barley or bæren—for Egyptians, coarse meal from grain with a brittle spike), and then beer (boer).   All that is in barn, in the barn.

necklaces
pure silver, pounded
into feathered
sun goddesses
ubiquity of hills

aware of a surfeit
of treasures
she cried, no! no!
dismissing
another suitor

My thoughts, chiseled there on a giant red rock in the Yangtze River, scrawled in an incomprehensible hanzi.  I stand there puzzled. My message, when I first thought those thoughts, had been so clear.  The talking water in the brook, blossoms, bamboo partly in its own shade, a carefully raked courtyard of fine gravel, camellias!  Now the thinking itself slips away.

he begged coins
but shrugged off
pennies
in his cap
weighed him down

bored
against a sky of chalk
waiting for wind
a blackbird
finally lifts off

Whatever was once wonderful eventually turns flat. Toys on the top shelf find their way into a box of castoffs in the corner.  These are part of the law of entropy.  Energy, heat, and human interest tend to run downhill; the most boring design drags everything else down.  In the end, it will all be ennui.

vain and fickle
tossing hearts aside
no wonder
her world froze
broke into icy pieces

cold shadows
flexing under
a colorless
moon rearranging
blue pines

 

 

A Form of Remembering, of Unforgetting

 

Forgetfulness is white,—white as a blasted tree. . .
I can remember much forgetfulness.
                  —Hart Crane, The Pagan (1918)

 

Notes from the Night Nurse: Later on, he goes to a place where tiny crystals randomly collect on silver threads. All night not remembering, as if floating on clouds, seeing everything for the first time, over and over.  The strictures removed, free forms unfold before his enamored stare—a man on the loose, an unfettered dreamer.

poppies
in soft silk hats
sometimes
just one or two
or a hillside

I was thinking
then, suddenly,
leaves and soaring birds
from a white sky
…but I digress

It was the whip, Nietzsche said, taught Man to keep a promise—a form of remembering, of unforgetting.  An idea has to endure across distances in time, to come up again and again, in order to be called will (Hobbes)—a voluntary end of stillness (both silence and the lack of motion).

significance
shows how sanity
can pick out
this scrawny thing
from the rest

just remember
if you dropped the string
of thought
you could always pick up
a trail of crumbs

Reminders in the form of nudges from the grave—works of history—a sense of past provides the linkage; we don’t remember any of this, but are made to recite fictions.  Here’s a new sense of history—tabula rasa, carte blanche, scraped off, blanked (from Blanca, a white horse to ride out on)—mixed in someone’s palette, discolored to order.

light waves
form entire spectrums
white as ghosts
blackened—no reflection
down a hole

a dream of flying
and a movement of bones
in forgotten
heights, slow dreamy
Time glides down

The hot sun forgotten in the shade, the workers settle down for lunch.  Cold omelet of patata y cebolla, a chunk of bread cut from a large loaf, a Mason jar of red wine, unpeeled uncut oranges. The foreman had all that, plus some cold breaded veal pieces and a doughnut.  Their talk was light and teasing, everyone laughed for the joy of it, to escape.  The gang boss in the pickup kept checking his watch; he was the only one who remembered the time.

leave the lights on
for a minute or two
sing softly
just this one time
let me forget

the secret of general
anesthesia
lies in this: no matter
how much pain
you’ll never remember

 

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