Reading: A list of some observation by Joseph Brodsky

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996), Russian-American genius and lover of poetry, should be part of our anthology. Sentenced to hard labor in northern Russia in 1964 and exiled to the US in 1972, he had suffered from what mother Russia had become in the twentieth century. He wrote this seemingly simple list of observations:

A list of some observation. In a corner, it’s warm.
A glance leaves an imprint on anything it’s dwelt on.
Water is glass’s most public form.
Man is more frightening than its skeleton.
A nowhere winter evening with wine. A black
porch resists an osier’s stiff assaults.
Fixed on an elbow, the body bulks
like a glacier’s debris, a moraine of sorts.
A millennium hence, they’ll no doubt expose
a fossil bivalve propped behind this gauze
cloth, with the print of lips under the print of fringe,
mumbling “Good night” to a window hinge.

Short observations building up to a poetic image of sorts is a poetic skill I could envy. We begin here with an innocent corner and a look that sticks, followed by an enigmatic statement about water that gets the reader’s attention. Public form: Instead of looking through it you are immersed in it. There is no here and there, no distinction between you and what you are afraid of. Perhaps that is why man is more frightening than his skeleton?

I see the winter wine and the black porch with the willow. The heavy ‘moraine’ body (I don’t like the ‘of sorts’). The glacier imagery might be inspired by his exile in Archelansk (also see his poem Polar Explorer).

Brodsky has a vivid imagination about a scene 1000 years later, when the protagonist of this poem is long dead and ‘they’ find some fossil mollusk behind the gauze cloth, so I assume the person was mourning. The print of lips under the print of fringe, mumbling good night to a window hinge, sounds spellbinding and beautiful in a way that defies explanation.

Josephy Brodsky has said that poetry should be part of everyday life, like gas stations or even cars. I think we can start with saying good night to window hinges.

Reading: A list of some observation by Joseph Brodsky was originally published on Meandering home

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November 7: Those little treasures

A bright sun wakes me at 8:30, I do some dishes, play some music on my little computer and continue writing about my beautiful experience. I look at the pharmacy receipts they gave me yesterday and they are so valuable for me. My little treasures. Not that I need proof of my being good (do it yourself: please insert hypens if you cannot read this but as a sign of conceit). It just show me the reality of what I’m doing, the reality I am helping to create, perhaps yes, with a humble birdy pride tickling the hairs on my neck. It feels good, ma nouvelle vie. Can I ever persuade other people to treasure a pharmacy receipt from a Palestinian refugee camp for medications of the poorest families that are forced to live there higher than a bar of gold or truffle oil?

Some would with disdain in their shivering nostrils frown upon me and say “eeh, he’s playing Jesus again” meaning he’s playing hookey from life and that is not good. Others would say “wait a minute, maybe he IS…” (just kidding, no offence). Anyway, I am having the time of my life here, and even I with my sesquipadalian pretentiousness (thanks, Maddy) can’t find words for it.

In Ibrahims room there is a continuous recitation going on, of which I don’t understand a thing. I don’t judge rite and religion, I smile mildly at them and always try to uncover the human face. When I look inside Ibrahims room there is nobody except Ibrahim. It was he was has been saying the loud prayers all morning. I almost cry. I have seen the hole in his throat.

I say goodbye and hold Ibrahim’s hand. After seeing some more of the camp it is time to leave. Ibrahim’s brother takes me to the bus station with his three decades old mercedes. We understand each other, even if we don’t share a common language. A taxi to Damascus is arranged and I dream away during that long ride. Border formalities take up some time as usual and I have to buy a new visa for Syria.
“But they told me it was double entry! So they lied to me! They are not such good muslims then…” some little idiot inside me feels inclined to say. I remember the rugged unshaved Russian man smiling at me and telling me I shouldn’t take these things too seriously. I pay for a new visa and realize that he is right. Easy does it.

In Damascus, I miss my couchsurfer but the friendly staff of the internet café brings me to an affordable hostel. I have a sandwich nearby, take a hot shower, wash my clothes, and I sleep well in the four-person dormitory.

November 7: Those little treasures

A bright sun wakes me at 8:30, I do some dishes, play some music on my little computer and continue writing about my beautiful experience. I look at the pharmacy receipts they gave me yesterday and they are so valuable for me. My little treasures. Not that I need proof of my being good (do it yourself: please insert hypens if you cannot read this but as a sign of conceit). It just show me the reality of what I’m doing, the reality I am helping to create, perhaps yes, with a humble birdy pride tickling the hairs on my neck. It feels good, ma nouvelle vie. Can I ever persuade other people to treasure a pharmacy receipt from a Palestinian refugee camp for medications of the poorest families that are forced to live there higher than a bar of gold or truffle oil?

Some would with disdain in their shivering nostrils frown upon me and say “eeh, he’s playing Jesus again” meaning he’s playing hookey from life and that is not good. Others would say “wait a minute, maybe he IS…” (just kidding, no offence). Anyway, I am having the time of my life here, and even I with my sesquipadalian pretentiousness (thanks, Maddy) can’t find words for it.

In Ibrahims room there is a continuous recitation going on, of which I don’t understand a thing. I don’t judge rite and religion, I smile mildly at them and always try to uncover the human face. When I look inside Ibrahims room there is nobody except Ibrahim. It was he was has been saying the loud prayers all morning. I almost cry. I have seen the hole in his throat.

I say goodbye and hold Ibrahim’s hand. After seeing some more of the camp it is time to leave. Ibrahim’s brother takes me to the bus station with his three decades old mercedes. We understand each other, even if we don’t share a common language. A taxi to Damascus is arranged and I dream away during that long ride. Border formalities take up some time as usual and I have to buy a new visa for Syria.
“But they told me it was double entry! So they lied to me! They are not such good muslims then…” some little idiot inside me feels inclined to say. I remember the rugged unshaved Russian man smiling at me and telling me I shouldn’t take these things too seriously. I pay for a new visa and realize that he is right. Easy does it.

In Damascus, I miss my couchsurfer but the friendly staff of the internet café brings me to an affordable hostel. I have a sandwich nearby, take a hot shower, wash my clothes, and I sleep well in the four-person dormitory.

August 14. A piece of Autobahn.

Another Lituanian truck driver takes me almost all the way through Poland, and I have dinner in a roadside restaurant that accepts visa. A group of friendly English-speaking Poles offers me a ride to Poznan. One of them has just come back from a ten day hike in Spitzbergen, of which he narrates with excitement. There’s something else! Tough terrain, guns for protection against polar bears are obligatory, at least eight hours a day walking. I smile and feel confronted with my own laziness, as you would call it. The guy also tells me about a 14-month Asia trip and I am aware again of this thing that hunts me: that I have never traveled.
I can persuate a Russian guy to take me with him to Berlin. He is on his way to Nürnberg and I am right about my idea that he could use some company. He tells me he has been laid off at some factory as a result of the financial crisis. He has been working as a technical controller or something. He also tells me he has met a girl in Moscow and asks me what I would do. Do you really want to know friendly man in your big German car? It depends on how much I am convinced of that love. I would move to Moscow to be with her. Here I take pride in saying such reckless things. Half the world is governed by the principle of love that doesn’t want to be consumed, couples that deem it wise not to live together, couples that let their career go first. It’s okay for me, but I value a harsh kind of honesty here. I would admit my human weakness and my wish to put something else above my love instead of telling stories about how impossible it is for love to conquer things. I mean, I think a lot of bullshit like I’m on speed, but this one i got right. I can’t stand the way people are bullshittin’ piles of reeking arguments of why something wouldn’t work BUT they keep calling that something the thing they most desire. Because it’s convenient and they want to preserve face or somethin’. They refuse to openly treat their love as part of their knapsack of pragmata, their order of things, it is rather something that has absolute priority, a notion that is so abstract just because it is carefully kept out of the order of things, that it is not convertible and hence everything will do to make up an excuse to procrastinate following the voice of love. It is a convenient language game solution and I think every individual should critically address it in him- or herself. That is what I tell my driver. We get out at a gas station to have a cup of coffee just before the border. And then… German Autobahn! One hour I enjoy the Autobahn with him then I wish him good luck above all in love because compared to love controlling the way metal pins and shanks, wegs, stems, coils, rotors, levers, sockets are assembled is one big pile of bullshit.

August 14. A piece of Autobahn.

Another Lituanian truck driver takes me almost all the way through Poland, and I have dinner in a roadside restaurant that accepts visa. A group of friendly English-speaking Poles offers me a ride to Poznan. One of them has just come back from a ten day hike in Spitzbergen, of which he narrates with excitement. There’s something else! Tough terrain, guns for protection against polar bears are obligatory, at least eight hours a day walking. I smile and feel confronted with my own laziness, as you would call it. The guy also tells me about a 14-month Asia trip and I am aware again of this thing that hunts me: that I have never traveled.
I can persuate a Russian guy to take me with him to Berlin. He is on his way to Nürnberg and I am right about my idea that he could use some company. He tells me he has been laid off at some factory as a result of the financial crisis. He has been working as a technical controller or something. He also tells me he has met a girl in Moscow and asks me what I would do. Do you really want to know friendly man in your big German car? It depends on how much I am convinced of that love. I would move to Moscow to be with her. Here I take pride in saying such reckless things. Half the world is governed by the principle of love that doesn’t want to be consumed, couples that deem it wise not to live together, couples that let their career go first. It’s okay for me, but I value a harsh kind of honesty here. I would admit my human weakness and my wish to put something else above my love instead of telling stories about how impossible it is for love to conquer things. I mean, I think a lot of bullshit like I’m on speed, but this one i got right. I can’t stand the way people are bullshittin’ piles of reeking arguments of why something wouldn’t work BUT they keep calling that something the thing they most desire. Because it’s convenient and they want to preserve face or somethin’. They refuse to openly treat their love as part of their knapsack of pragmata, their order of things, it is rather something that has absolute priority, a notion that is so abstract just because it is carefully kept out of the order of things, that it is not convertible and hence everything will do to make up an excuse to procrastinate following the voice of love. It is a convenient language game solution and I think every individual should critically address it in him- or herself. That is what I tell my driver. We get out at a gas station to have a cup of coffee just before the border. And then… German Autobahn! One hour I enjoy the Autobahn with him then I wish him good luck above all in love because compared to love controlling the way metal pins and shanks, wegs, stems, coils, rotors, levers, sockets are assembled is one big pile of bullshit.