Thursday, August 30, 2007

Life Forms

Life Forms is a poetry book by Daniel J. Langton; he kindly sent me a copy a few years ago. It was put out by a very small San Francisco press, Cheltenham, in 1995. I don't know if it ever saw a second edition, which is a pity, because this one has rather a lot of typos in it. Really too bad. Here are two poems that caught my eye while I was browsing through it again last night:

On Meeting Franz Kafka Halfway
Through His Book Tour

He said, Gin and tonic. Which surprised me,
I thought Perrier or some exotic crap. Not
that G&T is a real drink, really it’s for dyps.
God, he’s small, nervous, with long hands,
that mittel-Europa ferret look. I sit with him,
What do you think of America, I ask.
I wrote the fucken thing, he says. His eyes are tired,
rimmed with hotel meals. Do you know Larry King?
he says. Will you sign my Schloss? I ask,
I’m looking for a girl, he says, I want to be engaged.
He signs my book, I notice he’s now Frank.

Slow Poem

There is a building that contains the dossiers
of everyone in the world. A young man was assigned
to read them. Each day dossiers arrived and
dossiers were taken away. He read at different
speeds, sipping tea.

The young man slept there, with the windows closed.
He ate in a niche with no windows.

Written lives. Places and torments. No thought
of the future. The funny cruelty of juxtaposition.
The slim files of huge hopes taken away.

After forty years he was given a pension that
would permit him to live as he pleased. He was
watched. When he died the experiment was declared
a success. He had learned nothing.

[photo: Rose of Sharon, 8/30/07]

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