This abstraction

By | 1 May 2020

Up late this morning. ‘They’ are doing the
road outside, putting in traffic-calming
devices: trees in the middle of the road,
speed platforms, kerbs, marked lanes. Is this
how prize-winning poets write, stopping up
the voice with lines all roughly the same
length, occasionally enjambing? Oh, I forgot

to break up my musings into blocks
of three or four or five lines. Even
two lines is common. Every other
time is a space. You don’t have to
breathe anywhere in particular. Breathe

whenever you want. It’s flat like
what I suppose is the endless prairie, the
Nullarbor, the suburbs. The engines at 7am
going wherever they go. All the lines,
all the blocks (must I say stanzas?)

having equal status: the lowest. Yet the I
sits in the middle, the I is always at the
wheel. Her small electricity arcs in
the words, the figures, the juxtaposed
closely-read signifiers, and now and then in

an assonance. It’s a Plain Style all right.
Why is this the way, this abstraction of
calmed traffic? (Ending with a question, a
rising inflection, is, of course, not on.
You mustn’t go tooting your horn like that.)

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