IN THE PRESENT TENSE
I've been getting fonder of the way
Ask an expert in a lit-for-TV room
So: There's a certain luxury in being dead
in the present tense. Kind of a cosmic
Booth leaps to the stage, breaks his leg.
Maybe it's really a kind of purgatory.
On IN THE PRESENT TENSE:
I think it started with Robert Johnson. Several months ago I was watching a grainy, mostly black-and-white documentary about the beginnings of honest-to-god blues music, and in the middle of a long and convoluted recap of the semi-early days, some serious-looking musicologist wearing what appeared to be a sweater he'd knit himself held that Mr. Johnson "records," present tense. The more I think about it, the more I think he's probably right.
In the clearing, standing rock-footed beneath your tree, you wait. Toe to toe, you wait. Now you're counting spiders. You name this one, leave the next. The webs attach to your fingers, your palms. The silk rolls between your knuckles: An evidence of fabric. You catalog your heart, your vessels, capillaries, systems. Now from your pockets you produce those things which you have brought here, your treasures, those things you've made, found, inventoried. You lay them in careful rows in the greening winter rye: Pasta shapes. Laundered receipts. Wheat cents. A child's toy: a miniature plastic hut with tiny inanimate monochrome sheep, farmers, even smaller chickens. These tagged and numbered. Exhibits. They are your exhibits. I will sing for you when I have learned the notes. I will sing beneath the tree. I will sing to your belongings. Your hands
Electric arcs crack down the lines. Voices rise. I hear them on the blacktop. Across the gravelled alley. I hear the hum. I hear the voices crack down the lines. I hear the blacktop crack down the lines. I hear the gunshot of an Underwood.
It rains and I smell you.
A friend once gave me a small box, three inches by two by two, in which was a tiny plastic hut (in pieces: roof, walls, fence, etc.), tiny plastic farm people and a tiny plastic menagerie. On the outside of the box (along with a drawing of the farmer and his fences and hut), in as big a typeface as the space would allow, was this slogan: "BUILD YOUR OWN HUT!" So.