Monday, 24 August 2015

Forrest Gander's Core Samples from the World (New Directions, 2011), first selection

Some favourite passages:

From the seat behind her, the boy pokes his sister's head with a plastic fork
And getting no response, tests it on his own head.


It sounded like the chimmuck of a rock dropped into a stream
And the piston-driven breathing of sex.

from "Evaporation 1"

What does it mean, a cauterized topography?


The sense of epoch loosened, unstrung.
Each one thinking it is the other who recedes like a horizon. 


In the open pit at noon, men waning in brightness.


The air burnished, almost mineral, like a thin peel of mica.


The distance flat as horsehair plaster, all depth sponged away.

from "A Clearing"

What is taken as evident wafts away.


(Here, as everywhere, male bonding is acted out as a kind of coalitionary self-destruction.)


The riders have not given up, but the storm is barreling theatrically toward them, their clothes snapping in wind like a fire.

from "Xinjiang: The Pamirs Poetry Journey"

And who was it the surgeons narcotized

before excising a chunk of muscle and cancerous

flesh over my shoulder

blade and grafting the hollow

with a sheet of my own skin the breadth

of a paperback, assuring me later

the wound will fill in with blood and

flux so now,

twenty years later, this salsa de chile de arbol

makes my scar throb?


To welcome the

strangeness of


not versions

simply of

my own



Synthesized with a common

helplessness. Fined-down

by the exorbitant demand of work,

surrounded, inundated with chatter

as the zócalo is

when grackles descend en masse

whirring, wheedling, scrawking.


The world shifts

on a hairline crack. All last summer

you and I met for lunch in a clearing

we didn't know the locals call

The Girl's Grave.


Returning again

to the ever-iterated assertion

of myself.



is only what continues

to be entered into. 

from "The Tinajera Notebook"

The band is striking up another standard nightclub number and a fifteen-man choral group in tuxedos tries once again to croon and gesticulate their way into the audience's tequila-tinged susceptibility to schmaltz.


Just once a year it blooms. In a few hours, at dawn, the flower will be wilted on that tendril like a tossed pair of panties.


And Mexican time seems to have a different rhythm, flexibility, and capaciousness that time in the United States. Here, we continually feel time slipping away, we throw ourselves into work to get something done before time passes, the hours evaporate, we don't know where the day has gone. But in Mexico, some quality derived from the realities of Mexican life provides for an intuition of temporal layers, of one thing touching on another, of reflections and shifts in perspective, the interplay of presence and possibility, a dimension both quotidian and hallowed, the anguine twining of the visible and the invisible.


But in Mexico, what is erotic is the transition, the ongoing slide form one strand of presence to another, approach and access, never the arrival. Mexican time is another form of curiosity--   

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