Mudlark Poster No. 39 (2002)
James Sallis most recent collection of poems, SORROWS KITCHEN, came out from Michigan State UP in 2000. BLACK NIGHTS GONNA CATCH ME HERE: SELECTED POEMS is due out from Salmon Publishing, County Clare, Ireland, late this year, 2002. [There is no duplication between the two volumes.] Other books include CHESTER HIMES: A LIFE, named a notable book of the year, 2001, by the NEW YORK TIMES, and GHOST OF A FLEA, his most recent novel, 2001, that occasioned an essay for the TIMES ongoing feature Writers on Writing.
In the carriage house out back, refurbished
What of all this will you miss,
Virgil looks up, at himself, callow
I will miss, most, the worlds distractions,
For some time now (hardly a thing the general citizen takes note of) the price of the death of poetry has risen. Used to be you could engage an assassin for a single large-denomination bill and a couple of drinksor just a couple of drinks if you waited till near closing time. These were professionals, mind you, expertly trained, highly disciplined; they gave a clean kill, good value for the money.
Having contracted one of these freelance samurai in the matter of an acquaintance recently featured on the inside back page of BOOK WORLD and awaiting his report, I sat half-awake outside a coffeehouse and dreamed of Leo Tolstoy lying on his handbuilt bed big as a raft in a nest of tangled hair, and the hair was not his. The hair was his countrysdestinys.
His face came up like a flowers, like the suns, so yellow and dazzling that I covered my eyes. Are you all right, sir? the waiter asked.
When I took my hands away, there, engraved on the palms, were prints of what he had seen: this bowl of unadorned grain, tanks climbing the ladders of their own treads into silent cities, airborne balloons in the shape of great heads, children who cradle bombs lovingly, like household cats, in spindly arms.
The revolt against poetry
What you know, you will know
Tear down all walls!
Then you pause and I see,