Carla Harryman, OPEN BOX, Belladonna Books, 2007

It’s a rare moment.

We don’t know who we are. But then we pick up on that and make something of it. Or (readers) we pick up on that and make (unmake?) something of it. Everything is lovely. Why?

These four-line stanzas (poems?) cryptogrammatically examine themselves. They (momentarily) shut themselves off from reality to look themselves in the eye. In that way they see we reality. (OK – you’re right – I’m getting away with calling “it” (it (it)) reality.)

It’s as if she spells out her regard for what’s occasional and meant – and it comes spitting back. And the meaning kind of slurries over from one stanza (poem?) to the next. It’s an exact way of getting from there to here. Hear?

Nothing can be saved. Everything is excessive. How do we handle that?

There’s so much slippage between the lines of these poems that that’s what it amounts to. The lines are all but independent of one another – begging for / exemplifying – that kind of freedom.

The work is a foray into the stands of what we’ll never know.

These words actually beg of themselves the question of why there are words. Not in a negative laying-it-down kind of sense. But in the sense of that as an emphatic fact.

What difference will it make to this consideration of Carla’s work that I’m listening to Coltrane’s Ascension – Edition II as I listen to it? A whole hell of a lot I would guess. Let’s all learn to take that (that) into consideration.

Sometimes there are little clusters that all but buttress up –

      Live in a tree live in a tree

      Hawk bird owl

      Fly to the bottom of the sea

      Flow in a glut of debris

And then we notice that we can find ourselves in any of these emblems of what it means to be.

These stanzas control the mind.

They kind of prophesy what’s happening at the moment. Of their occasion / or their encasement. Within the ring of prior thought

The meaning (sic) seems to seep into these poems at the same rate that it seeps out of them – in between the lines. As if a lot of time has gotten taken up. Or by way of being seeing – is that all? These little part of routines Each a cave – a Platonic cave of sorts – and a cave is a place to think in.

      Far persons




Somehow life seeps through. Endlessly. Lets itself in. Has the key. (The key is language.) Effusion – then – effusion basking over the braking line-breaks.

      Between a word and a thing

      Lives a little dummy


      To make sense of people

The water breaks over the oars. The boat moves through the cave – of thought.

The meaning finds a place of habitude –

      As if gestures

      Were persons

      Living among us

and –

      Pathetic national power

and –

      The legibility

      Of every lie

– such that we then wonder the source of this tender torpor that lives in these libidinous words. (Libidinous poetry authored by) And the words begin to accumulate power – and become lines – and the lines begin to accumulate liveliness – and become stanzas – and the stanzas drag / propel us on and on. As ever it ever shall be (as such). (The box opens and lets the young out – with graduating degrees of hopefulness. Can it be?)

      The psyche of the poet

      Exceeds the poem

      Without the poem


Grammar is a game the mind plays. And that the poem unplays. That’s its way.

Meaning is unavoidable. Damn!

      In it

      A person, live







      Of box