I’m not the first to write a poem with this title. In an interview with David Sylvester (BBC) in the early ’60s (the answers to which were then reprinted in LOCATION, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1963), de Kooning says, “Content is a glimpse of something, an encounter like a flash.”
At the same time I was reading this interview, I became acquainted with Anselm Berrigan’s rectangle poems, and I began this practice of writing poems with no beginning or end.
There are no periods in this poem. This poem is made up of very long lines (which began as rectangles) that can be read circularly.
I’m interested in the reciprocity between poetry and painting. I’m interested in learning from and writing parallel to works of art, that is, parallel to what is experienced by seeing—not towards or into what is seen (not ekphrasis).
I’m interested in enigma, not in fantasy.
I’m interested in contradictions. I’m interested in constructing violent juxtapositions.
I’m interested in the need to externalize what can’t be processed internally.
I’m interested in what it means to tell a story. I’m interested in creating an almost-invisible narrative scrim—a kind of non-linear narrative ghost.
I’m interested in my relationship to my own limitations.
I’m interested in identifying my habits and disrupting those habits.
I’m interested in what it means to be the sum of our interests.
I’m interested in the actions, or non-actions, of coming together and moving apart, stopping and going, stasis and movement, and I’m interested in how these things can be enacted in poetry.
I’m interested in changing, that is, in moving. As Robert Rauschenberg said, “If you’re not moving, then you’re heading to rot.”
Merritt Parkway, Nichols-Shelton Road Bridge, Fairfield County, CT (ca. 1940s)
CONTENT IS A GLIMPSE
for Willem de Kooning
canvassing the open road for footlongs, should’ve been a purdy bohemian, a little
woman, bare feet, mini-cutoffs, dweller of Pennsylvania farmhouse, bearer of
caresses, ornamented bedhead dyed Easter, coo-coo, French, do I want to make it
a meal?, yes, this food is killing us, O, Merritt Parkway, 4-car garage, tennis court
capitalists, pelvis to pelvis, so much light,
no past but memory, its independent clauses, splayed palaces empty of darkness where
everyone’s hot all the time, frantic, soggy candies, oversaturated surf, no-love
veranda, trying hard to make it work, hooked on ambivalence, protection from
divine indifference, fantasy apologies, multiple injuries,
we intimated too much, all of it, miscommunication morass, massive playground from
hell, mixed- signals, chiaroscuros, considering how long I’ve kept this body alive,
this trouble orb, not cut-up, but cut-out, doing it until I get it right, swimming
towards platters of shrimp cocktail, giant dying bouquets, clarity,
catastrophic furniture wherever you turn, the conference room’s slippery husband,
chaste, fetishized, fig, a voluptuous potager in bloom, a likeness, perhaps, a
memory, a technique, a solution to always reading into it, music, micro
earthquakes, foam along the edge, like that time I took an accidental nap on your
couch in the middle of the afternoon, astral, never again, just like that,
this coarse body disappears, becomes metabolic smoke, swirls of what we know as heat
(energy) in the form of sparklers (but it’s not July), and all this then comes out
through the nose and mouth, fighting for your piece, your nervous system,
whatever frequency you need is already there, so purge,
Ali Power is the author of A Poem for Record Keepers, her first full-length book of poetry, forthcoming from Argos Books in spring 2016 and is the editor of New York School Painters & Poets: Neon in Daylight (Rizzoli, October 2014). Power has been an editor at Rizzoli Publications in New York City since 2007 and will attend NYU’s Silver School of Social Work in fall 2015 to pursue the MSW.