07 July 2007

A. R. Ammons

[from section 6 of A. R. Ammons's Garbage, 1993]

. . . on writing a poem — you sit vacant and
relaxed (if possible), your mind wandering

freely, unengaged and in search of focus: you
may sit this way for several minutes till the

void unsettles you a bit and you become impatient
with the intrusion of an awareness of yourself

sitting with a touch of unwelcome exasperation
over a great blank: but you keep your mind

open and on the move and eventually there is a
trace of feeling like a bit of mist on a backroad

but then it reappears stronger and more central,
still coming and going, so the mind can't

grab it and hold on to it: but the mind begins
to make an effort, to shed from itself all

awareness except that of going with the feeling,
to relax and hold the feeling — the feeling

is a brutal burning, a rich, raw urgency:
the mind knows that it is nothing without the

feeling, so concentrating on the feeling, it
dreams of imminent shapes, emergences, of

clust'ral abundances, of free flow, forms discernible,
material, concrete, shapes on the move, and

then the mind gives way from its triggering, and
the mechanisms of necessity fall into, grasping the

upheaval, the action of making; the presence
of pressure appears, forces open a way, the

intensity heightens, groans of anguish and
satisfaction break from the depths of the

body, and the sweet dream occurs, the work
payloads, the fall-away slips through, the body

contracts and returns, ease lengthens through
the byways, and the mind picks up on the

environment again, turns to the practical
policing of the scene, restores itself to

normalcy and the objective world, the body hitching
itself up on the way: shit fire (and save matches):

we wheeled down the long glide from the mountains
into Wheeling: morning fog smoked away the tops

of hills and a river (or two) confluencing slashed
across by scary iron bridges jammed the the narrowed

valley road, when the big black mouth of a tunnel
suddenly opened out of fog in solid rock, all the

events at once happening in the shakes: but then going
on down Route 7 along the Ohio; mammoth standings

of steam, way out of size, too solid to vanish, oozed
up from the nuclear craters, so much so tall that even

on our side of the river the outsized opal shades
of steam broke across us, shadowing us once and again:

slows like flying by or trying to drive to a mountain,
the far ahead lingering far behind: the freeway of

refineries, chemical steams, the gross companies
toughening the banks down by the banks of the O-hi-o.

Garbage: A Poem

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