Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A debriefing against death

Paul Breslin is a superb lyric poet, that blessed species possessing the skill to convey complex perceptions and emotional breakthroughs in clean, uncluttered language that brings clarity to what might have other wise gone unsaid. But not at the sacrifice of the music ; there are chimes in the wind in Breslin's best work, grace notes that form the spare but richly evocative melody that might , at times, to underscore and even enhance our shared emotional underground. 

Joy, melancholy, despair, exhilaration, serenity; Breslin is a master craftsman who creates a tangible sense of the ambiguity between the images as they parade by. What intrigues me about his work is the way he is able to write as if he were still inside the experience,not apart from it; there is , almost always, the feeling that the situation is current, ongoing, in-progress. Paul Breslin is not so much reflective in his work as he is intensely aware of the forces that play upon him and the environment,material and emotional, that contextualize them.

"Inquest", a poem that takes the form, I assume, of police or therapist interview of a subject who has is still processing the loss of a mother or  wife or  lover, distills his virtues to the cadence favored by a bureaucratic psychology that insists on yes -or-no answers. The questions are direct, blunt, implicit in their expectation of equally terse answers; Breslin's replies are, in fact, brief and concise, but it is a concision that creates even more ambiguity and clarifies the mystery how one responds to life-changing events.These are the replies of a man who had for so long attached his own sense of idenity to the personality,pulse and quirks of  another that his responses have the stark  clarity that only a good stunning gives you. Suddenly, brutally, life does not make the sense it used to and there is the dread of having to create a meaning existence The images, stark and unadorned, reveal the ground-zero aspect; none of the old comparisions, the easy metaphors and similes that order and index the daily events, are of any use. This is a poem of someone digging climbing from the crater :
 

Why point to the mirror 
Where no one lives 
And the stars, which see no one? 

 
I longed to be no one, 
Like her ashes scattered 
Across the parkBetween where our brick 
Apartment had stood 
And the white museum 
That survived it:  
Free to fly 
Where the wind drives, 
Or, mingled with rain, 
Seep under the roots. 
 
There is no final say to the query, there is not a simple nor tidy rationale. The answer instead instead comes at the point when one considers their loss, ponders their purpose and desires that it all be over in some beautiful way,that the pain be dissolved and his essence be added to the soil, water and rocks that make up the earth from which all of us metaphorical arose from, to not be in the world and experience further pain and loss but rather merely reflect the doings of others, their aches and joys. This poem presents us continuously with a rich stream of contradictory impulses and desires. I read the nervous, suddenly intense desire for release from the hurtful conditions of being alive and engaged with the world, but Breslin is not without a reality principle that reminds him that we go on, we go on, as Beckett would remind us, no matter the pain nor the drudgery of just waking up and scraping our feet to the shower in the darkest of mornings. He finally asks his interrogator a questions and receives an answer in turn:
 
Am I free to go now? 
What do you think? 

The last question that keeps one awake to late in the night, filters into your dreams, makes your feet drag across the floor. We go on despite our loss because that is what we do.  The last part of growing up is the growing apart from the other and realizing that one will die alone and the purpose of life becomes the effort to not live the same way.