Thursday, November 20, 2014

Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine [LA Times]

I know, because I have been told, some people find The End of the Alphabet to be something other than accessible. This, of course, was never my intention. I wanted only to distress the reading experience so that words were no longer markings to be skimmed over towards the close of an expected narrative. The idea was that a word, any word, would cast its layers of meaning toward an emotional field that was triggered by certain unexpected juxtapositions on the page. The reading experience then would be a journey into a process outside of the narrative plot-driven arc. In this sense I wanted an end to thought as I encountered it in narrative poetry. An end to clarity, however, was never my intent. Always we were meant to come up, to arrive at another mode of expression, for it seemed to me that language could be turned toward rendering an atmosphere, a feeling of flux and desperation, which seems the point of autobiographical, confessional poetry anyway. You know what I mean, people talk a lot and what are they saying beyond, we are not as we “are living” ourselves to be.

Overview is a place

Difficult to pinpoint

fear of self, uncoiled.

specter unstrung. staggering stampede. Which
sung? left the body open for the moon to break into,
unspooling disadvantage.

Give a thought, Jane: Did filth
begin in conversation? drag
the mood through before escaping the ugliness. Not to

dwell on but overhear footsteps again
approaching: immured,
not immune, then dumdum

bullet templed, rip the mind out. go ahead.


Dawn will clear though the night rains so hard. Rain

and Jane mix and mixing up, thinking shore but hugging floor.
What Jane must substitute for this year’s substitute
for a mind intact? fire?

its greediness egged on, flame after flame
but still fueling the shifting onslaught.

Gray Jane
emphasize otherwise, not the eyes
but the cheek to the pillow. Bundle up and sweep

bare the mind. Land its ooze
at some other gate, soften
dead wood. Sea smoke, drizzle, distance. The moment

of elucidation snipped its tongue, its mouth water
dried out —
thought-damaged throat.


Remember a future
from another dream
and hold on. open your mouth

close to your ear: fear
in sanity lives. anatomy
as dissonance,

vertebral breaking. In spite
of yourself.
rising, the mercury

reaching out
to fever. fire. all your civilized
sense, Jane, disabled.


Assurance collapses naturally
as if each word were a dozen rare birds
flown away. And gone

elsewhere is their guaranteed landing
though the orphaned wish
to be happy was never withdrawn.

Do not face assault uncoiled as loss,
as something turned down: request or sheet. Pray
to the dear earth, Jane, always freshly turned,

pull the covers overhead and give
and take the easier piece.
to piece the mind.

to gather on tiptoe. Having lost
somewhere, without a name to call, help
yourself. all I want.

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