Friday, April 26, 2013

Into the Void, Ordering Room Service

Wishful thinking , the act of  lolling around and contemplating each  fancy you take fulfilled at the moment of inspiration, is the idea behind Jeff Skinner's poem "Distant Wants".This bit of elusive whimsy    seems a trifle at first , but what I got out of after the second read was that it amounts to an anti-bucket list. 

While there are millions of fictional elders chasing the down the items that they'd like to see, do or feel before they pass  on to the Life of Eternal Diffusion,  the hero in this reverie takes this impulse in a relaxed stride and considers them not so much as unfulfilled goals as much as things that are the equivalent of impulse buying:  in a perfect world where whimsy dictated the nature of things, these might be worth going after, absurd though they may be. 

But these are distant wants, products of day dreams and the mind-wandering results of taking a moment to stretch out and allow daily duties to wait their turn for attention. Suitably, these are wants set in the metaphysical realm where the idea of a thing is more real than the material representation. 

Skinner gives a nod to Wallace Stevens and for a minute or so considers rearranging the world of perfect arrangements; this is a child's instinctive musing on what would happen if this button was pressed, that door opened, this loose brick at the bottom of the wall removed.It would have been interesting if the poet had shared the imagined results and revealed what , if anything, would be going on if the order of the world at the most banal level were to become unhinged, although I am grateful for this poem's brevity, staying well within the limits of a semi-sonnet form.The shortness of breadth is exactly the weight these yearnings need to carry. I believe these are musings on how to make arrangements in the perfect world even more artistic, further underscoring their lack of gravitas. Lack of importance is the one thing that makes these musings worth wondering about.