Traces 6: Quality time

By | 1 February 2016

I spent quality time after her memorial
reinventing banalities.

The absoluteness of her being
here, then ™Photoshopped out.

What is it that anyone
remembers? Most of the speakers

were not and could not be
eloquent. Everyone nibbled

at the borders of her life
and of the unspoken.

Nothing scandalous–just
you can’t articulate it, any

of it, either in part
or as a whole.

Of course, memory itself
is one culprit: iterations,

inventions, re-castings, thoughts
escaped, home movies, rifts,

pretensions, chains, scraps of fabric
and frozen evanescence.

Did you so believe in soul?
I didn’t know! I thought the word was odd—.

Someone stripped away the black
of the beleaguered words,

to reveal the shadows
beneath their nakedness.

The heavy doors of travel
pivoted on hinges and turning points.

Sometimes hinges make a sound
like vermin. The mist

between landmarks encouraged earworms.
A Chopin étude, caught in a loop

and never resolved.
Or the “Chiquita banana” ditty,

pert, didactic, unforgettable,
a Potemkin village of kitchen pleasantries,

stereotypes and housewife-ry
under which tentacles

of collusion, massacre, preferential
access, policed economies,

and paramilitary activities
far away from home.

You can see right away there are
two stories—the palpable, but insignificant
and the hidden, real enough but all obscured.
What? That number is patently
ridiculous. Two says nothing. It’s wrong already.
It’s certainly simultaneous conflicting,
overloaded presences of “story,” crossroads, the honey of personal life,
one tiny part of a well-built honeycomb,
done beautifully, with compassion,
sweetness, and the rocks onto which
some jump or fall–all that
narrates nothing, all that loses everything,
though a number like two or three might do to symbolize this
so long as one doesn’t forget intricacy and the networks
of collusion, themselves limiting us to the
binary, the trifecta, the 4 cardinal points of mists
neatening or sweetening all of it, the lot.

Time’s pale light upon the trees blinded the viewer
as the rushing stream rushed on.

Of course we spoke
awkwardly, a translation

without an original.
How could we have not?


The poem, unwritten, is concealed by the poem, written.
It’s kind of a disgrace.
There is a lot of blank paper in this notebook.
Perhaps it should be left there, empty.
Time is gone, emphatically lost.
Its feeling tone

That’s what you say
because you want to say it–but
does it really?

Perhaps there is no choice.
This unwritten–reliably as
a force that unwrites itself–
creates spray and backwash,
recriminations in the holes and crevices
that fill, some seasons,
with the powerfully dangerous tide
of what some person meant to do
and did

Especially sediments of unfinished
stories, eroded stories–

Any solid page of print
is a bluff–or I guess, that
is art.

It should truly be full of
ripped paper, holes,
elisions, burns
white spaces
and actually


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