Your use of repetition here is
accretive, not recursive; it builds as it goes like the house that Jack
built. But it seems to build toward destruction. Can we read in your
poem an argument for the Yeatsian idea of history as endless cycles of
What a cool question—to compare “Events” to any Yeatsian idea is pretty
crazy. In a good way. Thank you. I’m humbled, but it wouldn’t be fair
for me to take credit for having an idea as humongous as Yeats. Yeats’
cyclical theory is for geniuses with a lot of time on their hands to
draw out wild diagrams. I mean this with love. Instead, I drew from
some of the issues I have with the world: consumerism, a violent prison
industrial complex, and the constant mistreatment of workers—especially
immigrant workers. The world is a violent place. There is so much
repressed compassion that materializes instead as fear and greed.
There’s this video out there of a guy catching a foul ball at a
baseball game. The gif. has that haunting loop as they normally do.
What’s supposed to be interesting about the video is that the guy who
catches the ball is on his cell phone. He doesn’t skip a beat: he
catches the ball (one handed) and fluidly returns to his phone call.
The nonchalance he displays is uncanny. What I find more interesting,
however, is the interaction between the man who catches the ball and a
nearby fan. It looks as though the nearby fan tries to snatch the ball.
And it’s the victorious man, the main subject, who yanks his hand away
from the would-be thief. It made me think of the wonderful opening
section of Delillo’s Underworld
, the fight for Bobby Thomson’s famous home run ball. Here’s the link
Maybe the neighboring fan was wishing him congratulations? Maybe
there’s more to it? Maybe there’s less? Either way, it’s a frightening
illustration of man’s nervous default. People seem to be unable to stop fighting over these puny, meaningless scraps.
What is it that is not
It’s a hope of mine that all persons and things be illuminated in this
poem. Whether the poem is trained on a package in the dank recesses of
a UPS truck, brown booze, a tomato, a migrant worker, the
bougainvillea, or a prisoner, whatever. I wanted each thing to throw
from it a distinct aura, a hot light.
This poem—especially nearest the end— is supposed to have a choking
quality, or—as it says in the line “[a] notch in my spine/ That I will
never reach, that I cannot itch.” The long line leads into this
uncomfortable scar or scab that is unreachable. I wanted the reader to
experience this. To grab for air after the long line and stumble onto
the feeling one gets after one lies in grass. That wet/dry itch that
one’s back might be covered in a swarm of plump fire ants.
Everything is on fire, everything has an aura, a coat of illumination, nothing is not on fire.