“poetry is love in action”

was at
a poetics
and heard michael
golston say in a paper
on clark coolidge, ‘poetry is
love in action’. i jotted it down.
i desperately want that formula to
be true, like bubblebaths make you
sleep well (i haven't slept well in the
bath since we first got together, because
it frightens you to think i might slip under
and not wake up. you forget i'm a little large
to drown in our bath, i barely fit in, so could
i drown?) but what kind of love in action's
poetry? when i was a teenager, i was
hopelessly in love with some guy
(this happened rather often, with
more than one guy so i don't
have one in particular
in mind) and i
a song
with him,
sometimes a
song i'd heard
him hum, or sometimes
a song that just happened to
play when we were both in a
corridor. i'd lie in my bedroom
and play the song over and over on
cassette tape. play. rewind. play. rewind.
play. rewind. i would do this for hours and
i have to admit that although in the first instance
i was filled with desire for the guy, gradually this
shifted to being desire to hear the song, until at
some point it would dawn on me that my
desire was strongest for the gap in
between when, with my finger
on the button i would hear
the very familiar buzz. i
love that faint whurr
and my anticipation
of the assertive
click-click. desire,
through a conviction
that it wouldn't ever be
fulfilled, focused on the
act of rewinding, a repetitive
act, passive, lonely and, because
i would lie there for hours, i surefootedly
can say i was in the throes of a kind of erotically-
charged boredom. it is surely not difficult to speculate
why i so fixated on this act. i was obscenely obsessed
with my own self-pity, always going back to the start
and playing it through again. schopenhauer said
that boredom is just the reversal of fascination,
that both depend on being on the outside of
something rather than the inside, and that
one leads to the other. i certainly felt 'on
the outside' and as i rewound pop
songs on cassette tapes my
intense boredom and
equally strong
outstripped each
other like long-distance
runners. when one dropped
back, the other steamed on. or
like dough kneaded full of air and
knocked back to deflation, and then
re-kneaded, and so on. i wasn't doing
this through a conviction that i'd find back-
tracked satanic messages that had been leading me
and others so frighteningly astray a la the band 'cradle
of filth'. (scratch that, maybe i was. up in my room rewinding
tapes, i think i must have been looking for messages, my
desire so used to pointing outwards fruitlessly towards
guys at school that i would be willing to find some
kind of response anywhere, be it spooky as you
like.) i'm not sure whether it comes across
for anyone else but when typing this out i
sometimes felt as though i was back
listening compulsively to that buzz
again, caught up in conflicting
senses of possibility and
boring inevitability.

Colin Herd

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