For the Record: “Reading Dudek’s The Caged Tiger”

One of the ironic aspects of the digitization of cultural artefacts and the blissfully ignorant acceptance if not celebration of this process is, apart from those documents excluded from the process in the first place, the inevitable decay of links and websites and the consequent disappearance of the works they hosted. Such was the case with the poem below.

When Louis Dudek’s penultimate volume of poetry The Caged Tiger was published, I read img20171218_14235601it with some irritation and sought a way to express it other than in a review. The compositional answer was to write poems that intervened in the original, engaging in a kind of dialogue; the relation of the new poem to the original is underlined in [28], below. The words in bold are Dudek’s; the numbers in [] are the page numbers of his original book.

The novelty or singularity of this formal maneuver to contemporaneous and subsequent compositional practice I leave to the determination of the learning of the reader; the poem was written the year of the publication of Dudek’s volume, 1997.

 

Reading Dudek’s The Caged Tiger

 

[10]

 

The transcendental then is merely the unknown

—No: how what’s known is—

inside out:  no silhouette

no eidos no idea:

The transcendental’s how you know

you’re facing the mirror

 

 

Aside from yourself

the world

things

How it all happened

to come

together

‘s beyond you

 

 

Neither this nor any mystery’s gnawed

The mystic’s “the tight-lipped”

Tongue’s quiver locked up

 

[3]

 

Art is a dead god’s tongue

whose words

we still like the sound of

“the music of the spheres”

night’s white noise

the whole spectrum

of electromagnetic radiation

visible and audible

only to the radio-telescopes’

timpani tipped to listen

idle humming

“I-am-I”’s sound poem

 

[8]

 

Time’s transcendental

A watch

 

[15]

 

As one of those

in downy feathers

mouth open

happened on

spring mornings

 

[39]

 

in the cage too tight to lie in

a small pot nobody empties

wire mesh hardly a reach up

nights icy rain

days the sun throbs

the face in the cool mud

 

[28]

 

The bass beat faster than a raver’s heart at daybreak

shudders the whole body in the spot and strobelit dark

College boys and girls in their personal fashion statements

each writhe alone in cigarette smoke fog and pheremones

 

[99]

 

The old are removed

to their graves

and the young come up

to fill their places

i.e., as a “[f]ine bod”y

closed in a dipping casket

Old Heracleitus

renewed every sun

 

 

1 comment so far

  1. […] [& myself] included)”. And the poetic at work in his series echoes that at work in a sequence of poems I wrote in response to (Ezraversity graduate) Louis Dudek’s penultimate book of […]


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