Friday, December 10, 2010

reading passyunk lost again 

The feeling of winter made me pick up Kevin Varrone's g-point almanac: passyunk lost again, one of my favorite books, one that for me was a real flourish--from its green cover, even--in the middle of last year's exceptionally cold, dark winter here. The book journals (or almanacs, perhaps) through a winter, ending on 3.21, its last three lines: day keeps putting on / its cloak and darkness / keeps putting things away. Don't worry--I didn't just spoil the ending, because there's no end to this book. It's moving through it, like a season, and gathering a texture of day and place--awareness of shifting light and the "half-seen"--that's to be gained from it. I find a consolation in the texture of the poetry that makes the streets around here (South Philly, which the book is much about) more. More what? When I look up from the book, off Passyunk Avenue, I pay attention to changes in light, to birds, of course, and hear for dusk and flight in the speech of passersby. A feeling of passing. Passyunk, once a footpath. And then later, walking the sidewalk, the angles of buildings and light, the run-over pigeons make me think of the poetry, which, I want to say, is the possibility of making something. Days as syllables, syllables for days. A squab, I've learned, is an unfledged pigeon. A squab, you might say, including the sound of the word, is a building block of this city, of who it is. A squab might squabble. "Winter is quarrels." Once a footpath, always a footpath. When I say texture, I think I mean rhythm plus tone. There's a muted humor, blown through the wind, that touches the sadness and lost-ness, and I love that. I go back for more. I learn more.

Here are two days from the second section, "a fortnight for st. distaff" - click to enlarge:

- Ryan Eckes

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