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Poetic Thinking 2016 | January 22, 2020

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Sebald, Carson, Gass and Barthes: two poems, three photographs,

Sebald, Carson, Gass and Barthes: two poems, three photographs,
Conor Lauesen

I was thinking of these different photographs and doing some creative writing–the two pieces seemed to turn into a kind of poem (two different poems actually).

Me: I am quite interested in the essay as a form, along with the general developments and changes in ‘creative nonfiction.’ A few of my favorite writers are people like William Gass (an essayist and literary critic, works include a short piece called ‘On Being Blue’); Anne Carson (a poet and scholar of Greek; a short piece called ‘Eros The Bittersweet’ and ‘Autobiography of Red’), W.G. Sebald (‘Rings of Saturn’), and I Roland Barthes (specifically his short book, ‘Michelet’). I attach a few short excerpts from Gass and Carson here: was thinking of

So, broadly that is where the process or my own work maybe emerges from within. Recently, I was thinking of Clarence White–an early 20th century photographer, kissing the feet of Maya Deren as she dances lightly in her cinematic masterpiece ‘Messhes of the Afternoon,’ (1943) while softly falling into a sleeping beauty dream of an Arvo Part liturgical echo.   ;

First though, a different set of photographs and something perhaps a bit more haunting, erased and explicitly ghostly. In the above two pictures we see lost feet, torn uniform costumes, and masked faces of disappearing in the afternoon. These photos are from the 1970s in southern Vietnam during the American-Vietnam War.

Taking off the uniform
Our feet disappear
Our empty bodies flee
Our faceless enemies erase time
In a sea of empty boots
Leathered and worn
Sordid and wet
Tides tilt and bend waves

A school of vanishing fish-eyed
Ankles rush unseen
To litter a paved artery
Feet lost, bodies found, faces marked
None needed
No more

A scarecrow mask swept away
And willow brush creeps
And steel tall grass sways
In this new graveyard
Of fireflies humming
Soundless and free
Wings drift and quiver quiet
Welcome home again

The compass loses form
In a neat fluid prism
Where the weightless needle of time
Gracefully balances on bamboo-laced
Monkey bridge poles
Of escaped grief (2.11.16) _______

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.52.59 PMCastles at our Feet
A castle of cloud in the sand stands
Groundless on skin-flattened tides
Like the crystal dust of an aquatic mirror

Disappeared and smooth dry
Rippled rings of foam cleansed sheets
Hover soft beneath a lavender mist wash
Between folds of Eros

Then a ball of threadless yarn dissolves
The reflected atmosphere of a yawning shell
An extended fluid fortress of breadth

Suspended in this seamless glass palace
Across an echo plain of blushing sun
This cool star-face of sky-flesh drops
Lost in a calm tunnel of Moby Dick depths

A grain of air shivers gently and shakes lightly
Time gone by in faded screens of loss
Drenched in the casual stare of supernova shade
Warm blue snowflakes cry sand castle tears

Bubbles of rosebud windowpanes buoy
And our erased feet vanish
In the red clay of that cooled pooling water

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