Author: John Latta

John Latta is the author of Rubbing Torsos (Ithaca House, 1979) and Breeze (University of Notre Dame Press, 2003). Recent poems are in or forthcoming in Lana Turner, The Brooklyn Rail, Zoland Poetry, Critical Quarterly, New American Writing, Notre Dame Review, Blackbox Manifold, and Chicago Review. He writes regularly at Isola di Rifiuti.

Tenacity and Release & Stuff and Fixity

Tenacity and Release

Isn’t all writing a furious rosy cathectic in pieces barely assembled? No. ‘Sleeping back to back like two sticks of bamboo.’ Aptly labeled polysemous jerkwater akin to ‘Goodness, it’s nearly midnight.’ At the continent’s peaks, the banal and the audacious bow one to the other. Pleas’d to meet Miss Beecher. See Mark Twain’s wily smutch: ‘Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.’ Oh conceit of the salient, pathos of the reified: a male condor of the Sisquoc wilderness flyway is up for grabs off eBay. Hostile, pent-up and unpredictable, though skilled at fluid release mechanisms, dams, baffles, and the like. Like dying out at the final chord surrounded by an ocean of clarinets. I mock the horizon, its razor-edge of blue interrupted by galleons, buccaneers at the helm. I mock the worthy confect, its mincemeat, its adherence, its gloomy tenacity. The country is somewhere hereabouts; that country is, for love, starv’d.

Stuff and Fixity

The shouts of the skaters coming across the pond at the convent’s periphery arrive unscathed and diminished, with the collapsible white sheen of unintelligibility. Snow squall, watered silk, sunspot, v. o. re-dub. Words fetched off an illimitable shelf of words. A kind of torn fabric, ‘stuff’ without menace or intent, out of the French étoffe (meaning material), a loose skein of mouth-forged things. Mondays it’s the nuns who go skating, in long black greatcoats with white collars tall as sails, noiselessly turning and turning with the industry of belief. One repeatedly cuts a figure eight, grinding slowly backwards, one leg extended out behind. The lift of the leg pitches the bulky torso slightly earthward so that the nun reads the single groove emerging off the toe of the skate in the wettest immediacy of its making. So we speak of the burdens of speech by remaining silent, so words pile up—reprobate, impoverished, scattered. Drafts of heaven to rebut the canny meliorists, to dodge the breezily officious, to counter the smug fixity of things.