Sunday, January 19, 2020

A POEM BY EDISON JENNINGS


Did you notice, slipping through middle age and advancing , year by year, to the upper end of your sixth decade, that you linger more at the places where things you remember used to be? The house where you were born that is now a strip mall of mostly empty storefronts,save for the ubiquitous taco shop and nail gallery? The stump that used to be the large oak under whose canopy you first dared kiss your future wife and she didn't slap you and you knew things would be alright at least for a little while? Have you railed against the shape the traffic signs that no longer signal what they're about in a pattern you understood without having to look up? For me, it was aromas I missed, the furniture that remains in the corner of the room where someone sat for hours, months, years, writing papers, reading novels, talking on the phone, or it was the shape of the sheets sometimes when I am back from my assignments and the twists and and layered caverns of bed sheets , pillows plush blankets puts smack dab in the center of many an amorous wrestling match, me, pinned as usual, taking as well as I could give. 
It's an age where the universe we inhabit becomes one big scrap book, the long walk we take through memory as the years scurry past faster than they used to. Edison Jenning's short, casually addressed lyric "Bouquet", seems one of those journeys in the time machine --something so basic, even inconsequential as making yourself comfortable in a familiar  becomes, instead, the impetus for the poet to recollect even the smaller, seemingly duller things about a lover , her aromas, her scent, the way her body shapes the bed covers . I rather like this poem, admire it greatly, in fact, because of the simplicity and directness of Jenning's voice, a mid section of private message, love letter, or just talking to one, thinking half sentences of references that convey the yearnings of what words cannot adequately convey, the precise feeling one has when rapt with profound yearning to be with someone who is absent.  
We observe a man in simple ritual, sniffing about, unashamedly, seeking a reminder of the the unsaid issue here, that being alive is more than going through the paces. This is not an argument is making, of course, as he is only talking , briefly ruminating on a moment when he broke with the routine of merely gettng ready for the next task and sought something private and special for him. It is, though, a message that rests not far under the surface of the poet's wonderfully sketchy, chatty details: we are human and we have things on our mind that are not open for discussion, wonderful things that make being alive the best hand we've ever been dealt. 

Bouquet
When you’re away, I sleep on your side of the bedand smell the sheets where the weave is richest
with your scent—bath-damp hair, armpits, feet,
the alchemic reminders of your sex.
Call me, won’t you? Call me what you will:
pillow-sniffer, linen-lecher, truffle-nosing swine,
or better yet, a drowsy drunk who smells
the empty bottle’s cork to tease the tongue
and taste again the flower in the wine.
-                                         -Edison Jennings

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