176.1: Gail Wronsky:: Dry cracking sounds are heard & How lucky, if they know their happiness & An acre or two of land that no one wanted & An ant that fears a lean old age 176

“Don’t you love dancing with other people’s / shimmering / bits of thought—” Gail Wronsky’s speaker laments and possibly asks at the same time. Surely, this stands as the ethos of these poems; they drift and sway through the morass of content and form and hook particulars of brilliance along the way. The American Dream will always require movement; any piece of literature in the conversation of “GREAT AMERICAN” will always require mobility. Wronsky’s poems move like a contemplative on a walk, like the act of making love, and like a dance. Her speaker is fearless of death: “letting them go to seed, to pot, to hell, to waste, a fate which is / in some ways worse. And they respond to our neglect”.

But the poems here do not neglect. They are attentive of past, present, and although wary, they regard the future. The intertexuality here smacks of a poet like Marianne Moore without the decorative hat and dress and resonates more like a punk with sable and violet hair ruminating in a dance hall in the seventies and watching a band smash the instruments they bought on loan. The “temptation to annihilate” is answered by “ignoring things” by confrontation. This particular line is the irony of Wronsky’s poems. Her speaker does not ignore anything. She is so tremendously aware that one wonders how she does not tremble and dissolve like ash. The answer to this conundrum is in the self-actualization of the speaker: “Why do we feel an instinctual rush to jump in / motley-clad / and kick sparkle into argument?”

These poems are not mere ruminations on the life lived, nature, death, and longevity (though these are certainly the subject matter at hand). The panache to Wronsky’s poems is a sheer embrace in life’s beauty, the maximization of the sensual intake of everything, and a will towards obliteration as long as the life affords pure pleasure. Poets can hash out the conceptual versus the corporeal poetry for years to come, but these poems solve the argument. Wronsky keeps a steady head while letting everything go. These poems prove an achievement of courage and a fearlessness that a poet and a person could take a lesson from. Cody Todd

Dry cracking sounds are heard

The path ahead           glitters in dialectic.

Why do we feel an instinctual           rush to jump in


and kick sparkle into argument? It

overwhelms logic.

We think answers

can be found

by pressing against boundaries           yes so we press

against beliefs, e.g.

the philosophical given

that a thing           can only be true if it is as

beautiful as nature.
(Was Aristotle’s reverence for natural beauty based on
adoration or acquisition?           This is

something I’d

like to know, as if

the difference is more

significant than the similarity between

the two). Don’t you love dancing with other people’s


bits of thought—

walking through           inter-textualities like a happy
and avaricious zombie                      fool—

(totally non-hierarchical)?

Miraculous enigmas in imaginary see-through jewels.

How lucky, if they know their happiness

The problem with ghosts is that they never really want to go anywhere; they won’t do the wave; and I always underestimate the intensity of their addictions to drafty places and period dress.

Also they say things like:

Not words and pictures but poems.

Not poems about pictures but pictures.

Not work but words and breathing windows.

We had an art opening in the old lodge. We planned to flood the orangery with riddles. We wanted both figures and flickering, but then it rained all night, drowning out everything but the ghosts of these ideas. (The chandelier alone, catching a few drops of rainy light, was vivid.) Now I find myself looking for a tool with which I might slice the morning into equal parts of vinyl and lichen. Because they told me to.

Also they said:

All you think about is sex.

There you go again, talking about Paris.

Am I? I’m such a predictable bit of rabbit-skin vellum!

That time there were only two of them. One smelled like money.

An acre or two of land that no one wanted

Let me stress once again, says Baudrillard, that it is not the fragility

of objects that is tragic, nor their death. Rather it is the temptation represented

by that fragility and that death

—the temptation to annihilate

which we confront by ignoring things,

letting them go to seed, to pot, to hell, to waste, a fate which is

in some ways worse. And they respond to our neglect,

our oftentimes casual dismissal, by rising up against us in their quiet ways,

which could be why each time I drive past a certain

uninhabited property on the warehouse road I find myself

thinking we were born for no reason but to die and be forgotten. It’s what

the exhausted machinery there wishes to have me believe.

I’d make a counter-argument, except that I was born

for no reason; I will die and be forgotten. So it all seems rather


An ant that fears a lean old age

puts grains aside so they say but we Charleston backward you and I
like it’s New Year’s Eve in Moscow 1925 pushing our beaded backs and
calves in platinum forward and trying not to imagine what’s coming what
terrors and shames the certain failures of our ember days whether the future
all grows black or it all grows bright (I doze off from time to time with
open eyes but nothing changes) weren’t you hoping for something better than that
something more agit-prop and train track now that we’re out of breath and
heaving industriously I could swear we put that money somewhere