106.1: Gale Nelson:: from Elementary Morality
29 May 2012
At breakfast this morning, the woman at the table over kept telling her friend that she was going to get the omelet. I’m going to get the omelet, the omelet she’d say. I think I’m going to get the omelet. Yeah, I want the omelet. I’m having an omelet. Do you think the omelet here is good? I began to imagine something else entirely, certainly not an omelet. Each repetition took on new form. I was forced to confront what an omelet was and what it wasn’t. Omelet. At the end of breakfast, I had no idea what an omelet looked like anymore. This week’s selection from Gale Nelson does the same. His curious construction of phrases, the way the reader is presented language that she is familiar with but that then strike odd and unfamiliar. The poem moves through its constraints presenting us with something ever new. I am drawn again and again to Nelson’s phrase “inverted egg.” The poem too seems to be an inverted egg: where we we expect the yolk to be–at the center of the page the more traditional linear stanza–is where the poem most rejects meaning, creating nonsense, despite its stillness. And it is in the periphery and the borders, where phrases like “spooled dust” and “bubbling gambit” occur, where invention takes place. The anxiety created by Nelson’s diversion of expectation here is thrilling. I had the French toast by the way.