Sunday, January 6, 2008

December 18, 2007 WGA Theater

Day 3 Part 2/3


Daniel said...
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Daniel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel said...

V. I Am Dreaming of a White Christmas: The Natural History of a Vision


No, not that door--never! But,
Entering saw. Through
Air brown as an old daguerreotype fading. Through
Air that, though dust to the tongue, yet--
Like the inward, brown-glimmering twilight of water--
Swayed. though brown air, dust-dry, saw. Saw

The bed.

Where it had
Been. Now was. Of all
Covering stripped, the mattress
Bare but for old newspapers spread.
Curled edges. Yellow. On yellow paper dust,
The dust yellow. No! Do not.

Do not lean to
Look at that date. Do not touch
that silken and yellow perfection of Time that
Dust is, for
There is no Time. I,
Entering, see.

Standing here, breathe the air.


Yonder the old Morris chair bought soon
After marriage, for him to rest after work in, the leather,
Once black, now browning, brown at the dry cracks, streaked
With a fungiod green. Approaching,
See it.

The big head. Propped,
Erect on the chair's leather pillow, bald skin
Tight on skull, not white now, brown
Like old leather lacquered, the big nose
Brown-lacquered, bold jutting yet but with
Nostril-flanges gone tattered in Time. I have not
Yet looked at the eyes. Not

The eyes
Are not there. But,
Not there, they stare at what
Is not there.


Not there, but
In each of the appropriate twin apertures, which are
Deep and dark as a thumb-gouge,
Something that might be taken for
A mulberry, large and black-ripe when, long back, crushed,
But now, with years, dust-dried. The mulberries,
Crushed and desiccated, each out of
Its dark lurking-place, stare out at

His eyes
Had been blue.


Hers brown. But
Are not now. Now staring,
She sits in the accustomed rocker, but with
No motion. I cannot
Be sure what color the dress once was, but
Am sure that the fabric now falls decisively away
From the Time-sharpened angle of knees. The fabric
Over one knee, the left, had given way. And
I see what protrudes.

See it.

The dry fabric droops over breastlessness.

Over the shrouded femurs that now are the lap, the hands,
Palm-down, lie. The nail of one forefinger
Is missing.

On the ring-finger of the left hand
There are two diamond rings. On that of the right,
One. On Sundays, and some evenings
When she sat with him, the diamonds would be fingers.

The rings. They shone.

Shine now.

In the brown air.

On the brown-lacquered face
There are now no
Lips to kiss with.


The eyes had been brown. but
Now are not where eyes had been. What things
Now are where eyes had been but
Now are not, stare. At the place where now
Is not what once they
Had stared at.

There is no fire on the cold hearth now,
To stare at.


the ashes, gray, a piece of torn orange peel.
Foil wrappings of chocolates, silver and crimson and gold,
yet gleaming from grayness. Torn Christmas paper,
Stamped green and red, holly and berries, not
Yet entirely consumed, but warped
And black-gnawed edges. I feel
Nothing. A red
Ribbon, ripped long ago from some package of joy,
Winds over the gray hearth like
A fuse that failed. I feel

Not even
When I see the tree.
Why had I not seen the tree before?
Why, on entering, had I not seen it?
It must have been there, and for
A long time, for
The boughs are, of all green, long since denuded.
That much is clear. For the floor
Is there carpeted thick with the brown detritus of cedar.

Christmas trees is our section always were cedar.


Beneath the un-greened and brown-spiked tree,
On the dead-fall of brown frond-needles, are,
I see, three packages, Identical in size and shape.
In bright Christmas paper. each with a red bow, and under
The ribbon, a sprig of holly.

But look!
The holly
Is, clearly, fresh.

I say to myself:

The holly is fresh.

My breath comes short. For I am wondering
Which package is mine.

Oh which?

I have stepped across the hearth and my hand stretches out.

But the voice:

No presents, son, till the little ones come.


What shadow of tongue, years back unfleshed, in what
Darkness locked in a rigid jaw, can lift and flex?

The man and the woman sit rigid. What had been
Eyes stare at the cold hearth, but I
Stare at the three chairs. Why--
Tell me why--had I not observed them before? For
They are here.

The little red chair,
For the baby. the next biggest chair
For my little sister, the little red rocker. Then,
The biggest, my own, me the eldest.

The chairs are all empty.

I am thinking a thought that us louder than words.

They're empty, they're empty, but me--of, I'm here!

And that thought is not words, but a roar like wind, or
The roar of the night-freight beating the rails of the trestle,
Is nothing but darkness alive. Suddenly,

And no
Breath comes.


Where I was,
Am not. Now am
Where the blunt crowd thrusts, nudges, jerks, jostles,
And the eye us inimical. then,
Of a sudden, know:

Times Square, the season
Late summer and the hour sunset, with fumes
In throat and smog-glitter at sky-height, where
A jet, silver and ectoplasmic, spooks through
The sustaining light, which
Is yellow as acid. Sweat,
Cold in arm-pit, slides down flesh.

The flesh is mine.

What year it is, I can't, for the life of me,
Guess, but know that,
Far off, south-eastward, in Bellevue,
In a bare room with windows barred,
A woman,
Supine of an iron cot, legs spread, each ankle
Shackled to the cot-frame,

She keeps on screaming because it is sunset.

Her hair has been hacked short.


Clerks now go home, night watchmen wake up, and the heart
Of the taxi-driver, just coming off shift,
Leaps with hope.

All is not in vain.

Old men come out from the hard-core movies.
They wish they had waited till later.

They stand of the pavement and stare up at the sky.
Their drawers are drying stiff at the crotch, and
The sky dies wide. The sky
Is far above the first hysteria of neon.

Soon they will want to go and get something to eat.

Meanwhile, down the big sluice of Broadway,
The steel logs jerk and plunge
Until caught in the rip, snarl, and eddy here before my face.

A mounted policeman sits a bay gelding. The rump
Of the animal gleams expensively. the policeman
Is some sort of dago. His jowls are swart.
His eyes are bright with seeing.

He is as beautiful as a law of chemistry.


In any case,
I stand here and think of snow falling. But am
Not here. Am
Otherwhere, for already
This early and summer not over, in West Montana--
Or is it Idaho?--in
The Nex Perce Pass, tonight
It will be snowing.

The Nez Perce is more than 7,000 feet, and I
Have been there. The first flakes,
Large, soft, sparse, come straight down
And with enormous deliberation, white
Out of unbreathing blackness. Snow
Does not yet cling, but the tall stalk of bear-grass
Is pale in darkness. I have seen, long ago,
The paleness of bear-grass in darkness.

But tell me, tell me,
Will I never know
What present there was in that package for me,
Under the Christmas tree?


All items listed above belong in the world
In which all things are continuous,
and are parts of the original dream which
I am now trying to discover the logic of. This
Is the process whereby pain of the past in its pastness
May be converted into the future tense

Of Joy.

-Robert Penn Warren, from Or Else

[Note: The spacing and margins couldn't be transcribed exactly as they should appear on this page. Sorry.]