Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stan Mir's Song & Glass 

I've been reading Stan Mir's Song & Glass, just out from subito press. I first got wrapped up in Stan's work a couple of years ago in ixnay reader #3 - I was struck by its urgency, the insistence on the present moment of writing, its focused swing from line to line as the poem worked its way from local observation to aphorism and back to observation or political fact. I liked how ethical inquiry would build in that way. Those poems in ixnay are part of Song & Glass (originally titled The Rhino of Our Dreams), which is a serial work divided into seven sections. The book takes long looks at the insignificance all around us - at the din and surrounding details and detritus - and it examines the sense of injustice one derives from that insignificance, including the desire and struggle to make truth out of helplessness and impossibility, the desire for things to be more than what they are. To find a way to signify that is song that makes use of what's left.

From "Opposite of Autumn":

They call this civil
engineering this block

building adheres to
the sky a thumb

a genie couldn't
change this

a wrecking ball
could repeatedly

slam this brutality
into slabs with which

we could sculpt mon-
uments to surveillance

I spy taste exists
on one's tongue

we need it in our
eyes what is

ugly is ugly & must
not change what is

beautiful exists
look to the margins

where things remain
unharmed lions

in the bush what
do we do when these

lions enrage our sensibility
& turn what is brutal

into what is beautiful

The poetry itself seems the product of an attempt to "perfect looking/up while/writing/between the lines". To gather what's there in front of you - what is - with (or against) your sense of what should be. The music culminates for me in the book's longest poem, which begins "Zeitgeist/in the grocer's/sign nothing" (this poem was in ixnay reader). Be sure to read that one out loud. You might say the book actually consists of both song and glass. Glass as in the windows we look through or the shards recounted from pasts strewn about us. Detritus of edifice, detritus as edifice. And so there's a tension between place as a noun and place as a verb. Here are the first three stanzas of "Where Houses Remained":

idle. fickle. no crowd
commits to any truth
beyond the one manifest

before them. a bridge.
a river skyline reflects
in. to make place one

must place it in mem-
ory so that each day
it is there. present.

You can read more of that one here. Read a couple more here. There's a lot more to Song & Glass than I've summarized here, and I feel like quoting the whole book. I'll just type up one more poem here that I keep coming back to:

Work, kindly let me be
who or what I am I do

out the window
the evening I drink

call it what you
will I am broke

snow falls
thought's curtain

I said no deal
you can't sell

this workday to me
mostly wasted

time this
task too much

I'll miss the
system here

I hope as I'm
leaving the message

is clear not fucked
up functioning like

a foolhardy wheel

-- R. Eckes

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