25 October 2010


"Story of a sky too spacious for flight"

"Aerodrome Orion," the first half of Susan Gevirtz's new diptych for Kelsey Street, Aerodrome Orion & Starry Messenger, is a huge poem, itself perhaps too spacious for (one way) flight. 

First line:

"Trade     here for here"

Susan gets tons of mileage out of an economy of language: in just four words and a little space Gevirtz localizes the role of trade in economies of air and sea, their subsequent technologization in order to improve this economy, the obvious analogue between the two mostly due to their technologization, and we, the product, carted around, replacing good for good, here for here, leaving here for there which is basically here, without really changing anything, etc.etc. "the business of the day below the night withers the day"

Gevirtz perfectly captures the weird ambiance of redeye travel, where everything's crepuscular and suspended and somehow slow-motion-frantic (a parallel and maybe even identically different economy from day-life: a kind of zombi alternate reality) and rubs it ruthlessly against the lyric version of sea-travel-by-constellation in order to produce just the right amount of friction. All these bodies in all these planes "sailing" the skies at the whim of air-traffic-control's "caffeine-bruised" eyes, "eye sockets toward Helios."

I'm kind of in awe of how Gevirtz enacts overly-sensitive receptors (hyperacting to the din of numbness that is a life in transit) in language without ever really referring directly (and in super lush language to boot); this coupled with ruminations on market, speed, myth, territory, trust:

     "No song
unless wind is a song
Steel   no idea but song
no song   sheer territory
where no flag can plant
only where and whose only consequence"

"Even in the Faraway
whether the wind is cold, the forehead affixed, the passenger of thirst
Whether that which is thick with oxygen is wool or flesh either way
the surreptitious opening of locks the reverie of looks, the stewardship, the
storm watch
the reversion
alarm's comfort habit"

She does this thing (Susan does) by playing with the term "patient": both noun (a person undergoing treatment, a sufferer or victim) and adjective (one's fortitude in the face of tribulation, steadfast and quietly calm). "Lie back" she writes "to become patient." Dropping back the seat, "undergoing" as subject/victim and bearer of stasis (moving all too fast). All of this with one of the best ears in town:

"a remunerating speech is required of you
ventriloquist for news anchors, stringers
tense lax harsh or leashed
falsetto colossal no matter
to the paver"

A lyricism (this from Deleuze's Francis Bacon, which I'm reading concurrently: "Rhythm appears as music when it invests the auditory level, and as painting when it invests the visual level") coupled with the drone of recirculated air, dim reading lamps, elbows wedged against armrests and other elbows. These rhythms of nocturnal lives lived in terminals, aerodromes ("air courses"), throats and eyes dry, pelted by florescent light, stretched out on worn carpet, so many heads propped by so many book bags: this made music by a "kinetic emporium" of bodies carted around in space.

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