Saturday, March 28, 2015

Good Work: "Void and Compensation (Karaoke Genesis)" by Michael Morse

Please take me seriously. Please.
I wish I could claim that tears fall uphill onto laptops hitched up on knees in hospital beds, the keyboards held by ribs, head cocked by a funky pillow and a cat watching blessed neighbor Michael mow our lawn (need it or not, before dawn or not!). Ah, that slight pause that had Buddy so enthralled was a switch to a mulcher do-dad.  When Michael retired as a High School Football Coach, two things happened: his wife, who kept teaching (some mysterious course) became a bona fide screeching witch and, shortly thereafter, Michael opened a 7-day-a-week landscaping service.  And he included, gratis, all his neighbors -- mowing only.
Buddy has departed. Doesn't like my tears. Or Fred has put out the kibble.
Buddy also likes to eat before he watches, with big round eyes, the bedpan saga.  He doesn't miss a trick. He provides comic relief.  For *me*, at least.
So...before my big announcement, some smaller ones.  My nurse has disappeared.  Hasn't shown up since last Thursday.  I sorta kinda not-so-much liked her. She took my temp and my blood pressure, talked politics, had me sign two papers and left. Made a big deal about how she had 6 more patients to see, and it was always at least 4 pm. One day a bill collector called. That was pleasant for the both of us.
Let's see, what else?
I have two bedsores on mine buttocks, and more on the way, and they're bleeding. Fred is not equipped, let us say. To be fair, with one hip collapsed and the other quite painful, I am not equipped to pull off the ever- lovin' "turn every 20 minutes, turn! turn! turn!" advice that Fred 'n I keep getting chirped at -- without a breath between chirps.
I'll spare you the bowel movement data, as that's Fred's domain, statistics and all. He likes to loom over me, and if any of you can quell that habit, and I AM NOT KIDDING, please do so. He says, booming, looming: "I'm going to have to have to have to call 911 again, you're going to be back in Emory. You remember Emory?  No? Well, it's going to be that nightmare all over again if you don't go to the bathroom." Well, or something a little gentler and kinder.
Pain? Worse, but since Fred and the nurse both mocked my moaning when having to turn on my left hip, I've kept it to muffled moaning and silent tears, and asked them to "please shut up."
And then there's the fact that I am definitely sure I've finally suffered brain damage.
Don't make me go through the various proofs accumulated over the past 3 weeks.  They MIGHT defy physics, or logic, or geometry, or whatever, and cause tears to reach my laptop.
Fred is big on "You've messed up your drugs," because Fred is big on getting mad at me.
And if any of you can quell that habit, and I AM NOT KIDDING, please do so.

I chose this post to repost because it was the last post I could clearly remember and because it was the last beautiful thing I remember sending to Fred -- two poems, and he thought I meant the other one!  Poets, always learning, but never learning to shut up, at least not in this house.

I've finally suffered brain damage.

Part of the loveliest gift of each day, always full of promise, sometimes a complete, embarrassing failure, sometimes such a triumph as to invoke sacred quiet, or a rowdy fist pump, and often, the kerplop of a spilled diet ginger ale in the wild, waving, anachronistic search for a paper towel with which to wipe it up.

Leave it alone.  Just leave it alone.  Completeness ain't all it's cracked up.

I mention, and plagiarize, from time to time, the Academy of American Poets' project "Poem-a-Day":

Launched during National Poetry Month in 2006, Poem-a-Day features new and previously unpublished poems by contemporary poets on weekdays and classic poems on weekends.
A lovely thing to save in your email listings until that certain time of the day.  Or to stockpile for a few days, if you feel the need to sort, to rank, to wield, that sorta impulse -- which will be deflated nicely by some rhyme internal, infernal, joyous, near, far, or almost failed, on purpose -- which will curl your toes, manicured or fungused [boozed, bruised, cruised, fused, fuzed, mused, oozed, rused, schmoozed, snoozed, soused, used, abused, accused, amused, bemused, confused, defused, diffused, enthused, excused, infused, misused, perused, recused, refused, reused, suffused, transfused, disabused, overused, underused], according to ancient watery rhythms.

Or to open straightaway, a child, or a woman, hair held back by a thirsty towel, face shiny from witch hazel, and whatever signifies a man, intrepid.

Today's Poem of the Day merits.  Deserves.  It shames my verbs, as a matter of course.
"Too many words, kid," Lumpy would say.

Still, still -- the quiet moment together with the need to turn and share the work of this Michael Morse.

Michael Morse is the author of Void and Compensation (Canarium Books, 2015). He teaches at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York City and lives in Brooklyn.

Void and Compensation (Karaoke Genesis)

Michael Morse
Since when did keeping things to ourselves
help us to better remember them?

We need tutorials from predecessors.

To restore what’s missing makes a science
of equating like with like, or touching
small pebbles on a larger mental abacus.

We hitch a memory of order to ourselves:

From rotating bodies in space comes wind,
by which we’re buffeted, cooled, or graced;
The sun warms both the sunflower
and the angel with whom we might wrestle;
We get some lyrics from a higher power
and then we act on or for each other.

In calculated reunions of broken parts,
the latter must always feel the former,
inherit both the track and the turn.

A situation like an empty orchestra.

And when we try to sing above it, intuit,
and even in our singing are mistaken—

if pitch is something sought and never pure,
if latter sounds like something we can climb
as opposed to where we find ourselves
more recently in our relations, in time,
having been left or starting our leave-taking—

something happened—someone followed someone.
Someone had. Even held. Our formers.

We’re doppelgangers, saintly or undone;
pick a song and listen for your cue.

Here’s the void. Now sing some compensation.

About This Poem
 “Karaoke translates into English as ‘empty orchestra’—a portmanteau of sorts from the Japanese words for empty (kara) and orchestra (ōkesutora). I can hardly sing a lick and my limited range yields Karaoke choices that are more talky than sung. And yet I love the idea and essence of the act. Singing lyrics that we learn (or read) parallels what we inherit—as family members, as inhabitants and citizens of particular places, and as poets—from whomever and whatever we follow. What follows is a kind of genesis, a making in which we simultaneously borrow and add our own stamp.”—Michael Morse

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