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Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Afternoons


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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c0/BandAid.jpg

Band-Aid manufactured by Johnson & Johnson Co.: photo by Svetlana Milijkovic, 20 June 2006




it’s fine to wake up and hug your knees
my knees
when I have run out of fire fluid
I rush back to bed

the feeling of paws on my knees
petals and wings
little hair
why have you gone

I sing that in my head
being alone is a song
a cigarette in bed
it’s better not to touch the ceiling
but if love attaches a band aid
from the ceiling to your head
there’s nothing to do but recognize it




5 comments:

TC said...

An interesting bit from a thoughtful essay on this poem by Bianca Lech (in recognition of whose interest it was posted):

'The poem is playful and moves directly to my insides. The imagination of Tom Clark’s writing goes right past the physical limits of the body and the logical limits of the mind. The first stanza,

it’s fine to wake up and hug your knees

my knees

when I have run out of fire fluid

I rush back to bed

starts as a little celebration. The poem is making allowances for doing what you want to do- take a nap, hug your knees, take your time, replenish the fire fluid. I have often felt that the afternoon is a suspended time of day. It is brighter, warmer, the sun moves slowly, lingering high in the sky before it starts to come down. Clark captures this stasis and revels in it as the poem continues,

the feeling of paws on my knees

petals and wings

little hair

why have you gone

I sing that in my head

'The “afternoon feeling” I am describing is entirely my own reaction to the poem. I think “Afternoons” captures something about writing in a way that is also celebratory. When Clark writes about “fire fluid” I imagine that being the kind of energy of writing poetry and I like that his solution to running out of it is to rush back to bed, hug his knees, maybe to try to come out of the realm of trying to produce something, or accomplish something, and just be in the afternoon.

'The last part of “Afternoons” has some of my favorite lines... The lines, “being alone is a song / a cigarette in bed” have stayed with me. There was something so simply accurate about those lines and their juxtaposition. The line “being alone is a song” is a surprise because of the unlikely metaphor for the occasion of being alone. The sounds of those words “being alone is a song” and their physical space and simplicity echo with emptiness, but the way Tom Clark writes this emptiness is sacred. Following this line with “a cigarette in bed” Clark is keeping the poem moving, grounded, and playful. When I think of “a cigarette in bed” I think of pure indulgence. Smoking in bed, inhaling and exhaling the smoke while inside the space you sleep and dream and have sex in, is such a simple luxury. Because this line comes directly after the line “being alone is a song” there is a strong sense of the pleasure of solitude. I can’t help but become nostalgic for the cigarettes I’ve smoked in bed, and for the small freedom from time that the act of smoking allows the mind to wander in.'

Lucy in the Sky said...

Indeed, you have expressed the very idea of the pleasure of solitude. I feel that pleasure as freedom and inspiration. Not that I do not enjoy company, but those moments with oneself are great, especially for those of us who have found our way through writing. "There's nothing to do but recognize it." =)

TC said...

Lucy,

I think the greatness of those moments with oneself is beyond doubting... but I also suspect they are perhaps great in proportion to other factors like clarity of mind and conscience, circulation and oxygenation of the blood flow to the brain, and everything involved in the whole complex of meanings once attached to "mens sano in corpore sano".

The state of creative aloneness of which you write so beautifully in your blog is enviable, por supuesto; for me there are times when solitude remains an open sky in which to take flight, other times when a stricken old man finds his own company anything but delightful. So it seems there may be circumstance and contingencies that make being alone a song. (But whether or not it is a song, it is a tune to which all of us must eventually dance, however lamely, whether we wish to or no!)

Smita Tewari said...

Great that you can live on your own terms- hug your knees, sleep when you want to= what luxury. Would love to be in your shoes & write like you...

TC said...

Smita,

Thank you for visiting. I have also enjoyed dipping a toe in your "Rivers".

I wish I could tell you this poem represents my life in the present but I'm afraid it is pre-Deluge. Currently my knees ache, I don't sleep much and can't find my shoes. Still we can dream, no?