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Sunday, 4 August 2013

Tom Clark: Truth Game at BlazeVOX



Truth Game


The words having given up on them,
not the words but the meanings

hiding behind the trees
at the side of the road,

the people said
"We can't find the words"

The people sounded like lost children then
"The words have given up on us"

"We can't explain"
The words having been hiding away all those years

in the hide and seek truth game
not wanting to be found

Children playing by road near school house, Kansas [?]
: photo by John Vachon, c. 1942 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)


The world gradually draws into
a global unit, knitted
together by the networks stitched
into everyone's private
There is increasingly the threat
of an objective penalty
for being excluded 

from the game,
from these networked arrangements.

At the same time
seeing these arrangements
clearly and objectively from the inside
is impossible.
Only by being cut adrift,
on the outside,
does one begin
to make out the workings
of the game -- 
to make out that it is a game
and not a "natural" state of things.

A "natural" state of things
may or may not
ever have obtained.
That no longer matters.

The thought of a "natural"
state of things troubles
and distracts.
The time of nature has passed 
like the dinosaurs.
All that is left,
effectively, is the present
drawing toward it
as a magnet attracts
iron filings
the mechanical regime
of a future
from which the players of the game,
as in bubbles
by their socially enforced subscription
to what is perceived
as an inevitable
and necessary
would not be able to escape
even if the inchoate impulse to escape
were to become a conscious motive. 


An abandoned "Giant Slide" at Coney Island: photo by Arthur Tress, May 1973 for the Environmental Protexction Agency's Documerica project (US National Archives)

Tom Clark: Truth Game (BlazeVOX, 2013). Now available here


ACravan said...

It's a simplistic and probably inappropriate way to respond to two beautifully written poems which deserve more thoughtful and specific comment, but as Quakers say sometimes, "the Friend speaks my mind." The way the photographs are arranged is terrific. Driving home this morning after visiting the gym, I listened to Buddy Holly's Learning The Game in the car and somehow Truth Game combined with it in my thoughts. Then I cheered myself up by trying to forget "social media's" lock-yourself-in cell structure and listened to Nat King Cole perform Route 66, which was great. It's a very beautiful day in the Hudson Valley, cool and quiet. Curtis



"The words having been hiding away all those years" -- have been found here, thankfully. . .

"The time of nature has passed" -- it seems, alas, or has it. . .


light coming into fog against invisible
top of ridge, towhee calling from field
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

alluding to the second view,
more than some others

one, in place of the figure
happening, that which

fog against invisible shoulder of ridge,
fog on horizon to the left of the point

Anonymous said...

Very much looking forward to getting this into the store I'm now working. Looks fantastic.

Hazen said...

How right on the mark these two poems feel. It’s a game all right, and people sense that they aren't players, but are being played. It’s a system against which they do not so much rage as tweet—the “inchoate impulse to escape” in 140 characters. The system sells you to yourself. You are the ultimate commodity. “You” is always changing, and in question. Slide baby, slide.

Wooden Boy said...

That present drawing the machinery to itself; fearful image.

Nin Andrews said...

I love these poems. I especially love the objectivity penalty.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

It's at times like these when I can say this game never had a better player.

TC said...

Many thanks to all.

Van Morrison: It's All in the Game (segues into Make It Real One More Time / Did Ye Get Healed)

From BBC doc One Irish Rover. With this medley Van blows a fresh breath of meaning into a classic.

(The only #1 hit tune ever co-authored by a Vice President of the United States, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.)

"Make it real... I wanna lose myself".

That great Hammond organ player and backup vocalist, by the by, is none other than Clive Powell aka Georgie Fame.)

Nora said...

Very exciting! My copy just arrived today.

TC said...


Those are wonderful words to be hearing. First proof that this hypothetical book actually does have an existence outside my whatever-that-thing-is that's reputed to be the source of all mental activity. (Rhymes with "find" and "kind".)

(Though perhaps the reputed rhyming thing has a sell-by date, and its shelf-life actually ended last week.)

In fact I've been in a sort of "pinch-me" frame regarding the book... must be this relentless illness we here keep having over & over... has it been as cold on your boat as it's been over here in the bridgeward getting & spending traffic jet stream loop?

Nora said...

Yes, I can attest that it's a real book, with real poems and everything. I'm enjoying it very much.

Cold cold cold on the boat -- we've been bundling up and keeping all the hatches battened (and the wind! The wind is miserable).

The good news is that the fog and clouds have made for some lovely sunsets. Not that anyone wants to go outside and look at them, but we can peer through our portholes.