|I got 10 votes for my platform to pay poets to read. Did three
readings that fall, then quit. Each got $50. That's where the word
scared everybody to death. Thirty or 40 torn ears and bleeding toes. The
word shout isn't capped in the text. I had heard it in the room
once, at the top of his lungs. Scream shouted, universal world
shouted... it was a scream for all the displaced maquiladores
before they went back to their desks. Harriet Monroe said she would
never to come to these things again. Then she wrote to Wallace, "change
the text and leave out stanza 7." He acquiesced. But nobody said
anything to Tom. The shout built momentum. I heard it again over time.
It woke me last night. Today I pick up the fragments of which I have
maybe the only copy of ten made, and wonder why this collective prophecy
is not the stuff of which poetry is made.
I can blue such blues they're mean Down a hole to China never seen I can blue such blues they're red Down a hole to China like I said.
He comes shouting: Francelia becomes a storm...she screams to life...she opens her eye to the fury of dawn.
Turn the page. Some lady knitting red longjohns, leaps over from the New York Times. She is Blues From Room 7, with silver zephers sweeping stars, and angels.
Now angels look down from their rooftops to see. What do they see, laugh in the dark while she drains our blood...the Hungry Mother Monument. Somebody call Bly. Tell him that Pegasus sprang from the neck of this Medusa when Perseus slew her! Medusa's blood! Poseidon! Sea foam down in the deep heart's core, below in the center / the molten mother's lava heart-core flows. She is my earth but skip the geologic. What a relief to. But it doesn't say the Lord descended. It doesn't say the flowers bloomed. It doesn't say wars will cease. The war's on it says.
So he says, I took it down, / Put it in my blood, everything you said. Like when they're just out of ink and can write no more unless they tap a vein, or out of water can't drink, or no blankets to wrap the shrink, shivering with no meds. We get out carrots for our old dog, broccoli stems, lettuce, New York strip, fry eggs with bacon and lunch meat. It's cheaper than MRIs.
How many MRIs have you had? I became Ahab stalking the deck in the wind...and it made me so cold. That's when I thought he would bring out Ophelia again, Ophelia who drowned, I said to myself, Ophelia who got married when she was old... Ophelia, I have lived too long-- / Now I am Polonius / Remembering the arras.
Memory memory on the wall who's the freakest of them all? That's a question, but he answers. When daylight started cracking through my walls I was a fool!
Wallace said, "I see no objection to cutting down...your criticism is clearly well-founded (183)...I should prefer to keep the lines unchanged..." (Wallace Stevens, Letters, 184).
But then again I felt a chill / Shattering blast of a trumpet whose time has come. I tell you no sound echoes down the year, blasts into ground, circles around, comes up, goes down. The scream, the shout, the blast. To keep these things from echoing I adjust the TV at night. Off! I flip the switch, the main switch, all power, cut the cable, call the soul's end from sounds I can't hear.
I set out to calculate the velocity of shout. Figuring the rate of escape, its transit would be in x, times the number of days out of the solar system, heard by Betelgeuse. TV escapes earth and not The Shout? Broadcast light, sound goes out. It translates the sublunar, heard in space before all. That's what the beings of Betterguese do, they turn on earth at night, watch the tube. Count this multiplied by the indefinititude of shouts and it's no wonder we wear plugs to keep them out. They wear ear phones to keep them in, shouts multiplied with groans. You say how could they, how bizarre. I don't know. But you're a living actor on the stage here, so read the lines apportioned you and be happy in unknowing. Happy unknowing, there are as many words for it as Eskimos have for snow. You think it silent in the night when you type but it is not. The audient layers orchestrate. What seascape doesn't reecho?
Wind wraps cold around...a voice to sing? I need a bark, to float.
You know his cry is octaves up, slit my throat with shadows, he says, so the cry is light too, an empty chair, past understanding...Whisps of angels...let the fire freeze. The phrases come like waves and no tsunami. Light, angels, squeeze water from the rock. Then he says, Be rain. All these chords, melodies scat the head voice, chest voice, toes sing with the hands from the windowpane, it is a dance, not seen. Unseen, but heard, how many ways can you groan? The answer to this has lived among the elk many years, as we know from travels in their realm, uncredited more than coyote songs, their hymn of being to the lost. There are the lost and there are those who sing, who pad over moss and turf, eye shine. Everything depends upon predation inside halls and rooms. Some night over to Green Gardens the prisoners of age in their white gowns whose gnarled fingers claw and curl the air, their voices hear but not with the same SHO..! Out this clown whose eyes are wax...head as large as circled sight in a...waving brain. Oh wave the life of the waving world into the heart again! The walls are membranes, the walls, the ceilings, the windows, the doors, the floors are membranes of being lost.
These memories of things past, with the debris of later lives, remain. We dig in peril because we must go through all the top pain. Through all the cries and groans down down to lifeBut what about this and what about that, a hat they take on and off for the sake of kimberlites? Diamonds in the crust of pain wait for them to seek memories that lead to the one, an eternal regression the old man makes, I mean the one who had the bypass and the kidney out, down he goes to where nobody knows. He came as he lays there in his life and hears the song shout where radar replaced by laser still points, and down, down. He makes up myth about it, takes off hat, hair, eyes, skin, teeth and sails to the beat on a wind of flame. Down, down further into the crust, back and down, over river, through woods, the trees glisten and comes out in boyhood where grass sings: What we know is our creation, he says. I would be still... I will fade out of my head. Into the river of lights on the road. He says, I hunger and I dream against it...I have become invisible as the sun breaks.
This dissolution earned, maybe merited, maybe not, but earned, sought, felt, not hoped for, wept, but you know they work hard work for that, and open sky, cold air, snow. Be snow, lay your hand! Yes, the fire in the kiln is opalescent first, then incandescent and with tinges of wit on the border, so hot you shield your face. All singed eyebrows and hands, those who handle light in the deeper silence of the lower brain. And if that's the lower what the higher, where you walk in a kiln of yourself and meet Nebuchadnezzar boys roasting next to the four who won't burn. I can't look, he says, the vision dims.
And that's good for him, but me it wakes and I look at the seed coats sprung off the sides of the form, spray it with water and the shell flakes off now it cools. The egg is born in its shell but doesn't live long. The lake is an egg, the fawn is an egg, the leg, foot, hand that reaches out of and into the kiln to retrieve itself, not from fire, to retrieve itself from the impure bake off now in remembering. Can you remember tomorrow what you were a white tail fleeing over fences? So he comes out into it,
Bronze in the sun; The lion's in my tread as I walk And my mane flows behind.
All these forms, giraffes, three legged though, spotted, unspotted, tall as snow on peaks covered with the last freeze before spring brings living, which he calls here the time for killing.
The advantage in knowing posthumous is you get to test the words with life, see what escapes they make, or merge into the sunlike weather in the arms of a wife with children around them in age. It's either this or it's not and something else. But if you track him down, this posthumous unknown poet, not that you should, and ask, not that he would tell, but just to see, whether to bring up the past or not is up to you. Nobody else remembers, not even him, but the last page,
Songbird singing in a shower of rain Cat sits on the porch listening, echos and reecho with your own in the brain of the mist, the rain in the trees that falls on rock to make a three petaled lily, an escarpment more aquifer and songbird that comes to billow flocks like sudden storm, hundreds, thousands of songbird breasts ruffed up, pressed out, knowing. And the cat too lies head down, content to follow seasons, the cat, bird, moment, graveyard where pebbles clash against sand for traction, where the earth remains in its blue white bloom.
Tom Goar. Poems 1969-72.
Once when I served time among the graduate inmates of U TX, and represented inmates with poetry readings paid for by the U, readers would get 50 bucks. It's true I quit after three months, but three readings ensued, maybe nine poets. This one combined the services of John Lehmann, a guest lecturer, once secretary of Edith Sitwell and Virginia Woolf, Ray Neubauer and Tom Goar. Tom went second. The room was unprepared. In the middle of his "Prospero, Sweet Prince," to the word "shout," he actually shouted. Loud. I have been bothered by it since. The Shout, not exactly a poem or a book, was a word spoken as an act. On seeing this review Tom said, "There are things that the posthumous poet would rather be tracked down and told when he is alive than when he is dead."
1996 © 2011
Review of The Shout of Tom Goar, Posthumous Poet