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Aggregate of Disturbances
     

Aggregate of Disturbances

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by Michele Glazer
 

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In Aggregate of Disturbances, Michele Glazer confronts the slipperiness of language and perception as she probes natural processes -- the lives of insects, the uncertainty of love, and the deaths of human beings. Nature's beauty interests Glazer less than the fact that it is chaotic, amoral, redundant, charming, and indifferent to human concern -- qualities that are,

Overview

In Aggregate of Disturbances, Michele Glazer confronts the slipperiness of language and perception as she probes natural processes -- the lives of insects, the uncertainty of love, and the deaths of human beings. Nature's beauty interests Glazer less than the fact that it is chaotic, amoral, redundant, charming, and indifferent to human concern -- qualities that are, in these poems, turned into another kind of beauty. These taut, lyrical poems negotiate between desire for something irrefutable and an uneasy bedrock of paradox. In the interstices, Aggregate of Disturbances breaks open language and experience to offer a glimpse of "the eye on the other side."

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Like the processes of the natural world which are the frequent object of her close observations, Michele Glazer’s poems build up complexity from seemingly simple things—an arm raising a fork, fairy shrimp transparent as desire, a dog's mouth full of feathers. ‘In the blind I am all eyes,’ and her gaze is clear and deep. This book’s elegies, unflinchingly focused on the body that is lost or being lost, remind us that we too are part of the natural world and subject to its inexorable laws, the first of which is death. Glazer wrests assumptions from the lightness of her words to look behind assumptions and open up words: ‘strangeness arranges itself around her.’ This book makes pattern and promise out of its accumulated agitations.”—Reginald Shepherd, author of Otherhood

Aggregate of Disturbances is a stunning collection of meditations on language, landscape, and loss. Glazer is comfortable writing any kind of poem and moves easily between language poetry and metaphoric or narrative lyric modes. This is one of the most original and vibrant collections of poetry that I have read in a long while.”—Sheryl St. Germain, author of Swamp Songs: The Making of an Unruly Woman

“Michele Glazer is a poet of rare integrity—integrity of mind, heart, and expression. Aggregate of Disturbances springs from the inside of nuance and feeling. One senses at every turn how clear-eyed yet emotionally committed this writing is. At once dispassionate and tender, sexy, and edgy. A singular voice, killer diction, a tough mind, and a vulnerable heart. This is exceptional writing, of that striking quality that compels rereading and rewards it.”—Marvin Bell

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780877458784
Publisher:
University of Iowa Press
Publication date:
04/01/2004
Series:
Iowa Poetry Prize Series
Pages:
68
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Aggregate of disturbances
By Michele Glazer
University of Iowa Press Copyright © 2004 Michele Glazer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-87745-878-4



Chapter One Wherein space is constructed that matter may reside in ...

The weather forecast that snow would fall from the sky. (The architecture of snow was like the architecture of the storm itself, and of the landscape.) The weather forecast was that snow would fall. We are like snow he said. She understood her heart was cold. And that if the walls could not be breached by rhetoric or conjecture, still they leaned, comfortably perhaps, one against the other, an aggregate of disturbances, rust that in the meantime corrodes, makes beautiful. You are like snow. She thought, but I told you that before. The architecture of loss, the hand of a loved one. You are not like other weather he said.

Matter i

The pronghorn's all four legs had caught in the fence & it had worn one side of its face smooth in the dirt trying to separate its flesh from the barbed wire. It was moving & if the struggle was for the mother whose footprint we had seen earlier or for the juniper here & there or the vastness of sagebrush it was also about pain & the certainty of metal that seized as the animal shrank against large birds circling in the sky & coyotes & from the sun. Anyone looking down would have wondered that the animal should fear things circling & round. By worn its face smooth I mean rubbed the hair off.

It had been all day without water & the dirt, too, is worn smooth here where the head rubbed over it.

It wasn't a pronghorn but an elk & the eye was clear water silted over & the shape of itself. It was the content of another.

Then it is back to the garden, you see, where everything grows with such fecundity (witness the rampant mint) that she must be constantly pulling up & putting everything into it & everything has begun to feel like

more, putting herself into it.

ii

The comeupon head of the baby goat was glossy white, a kind of third-world neon because this was Kathmandu & walking by looking back didn't clarify whether it was the real head or why its eyes looked moist but I got it

the head that had been part of the animal-now a window advertisement for its own dismembered parts.

A Small Infidelity

The stalk was knocked flat & the allium's great lavender sphere kissed the dirt & in the aftermath the pendulous blossomed tip bobbed like a wand madly attempting to enchant - enchant - enchant.

I wanted to believe that it happened to amuse me.

Madly, with decreasing frequency.

Then another stalk hit the ground in a motion too eccentric to be the wind.

Okay, then.

From where I stood at the basement window clearly nature had determined to show itself whimsical. Or something too delicious lived in there.

Ants?

The bird seemed to lack consequences. The bird seemed to explain everything.

Surely something is wanted that will not supplicate under sparrowweight

though for a moment it rested its body on a sphere of blossoms as he had wrested assumption from the lightness of her words.

Firefly

At his lips Intact - quick-lit - And illumination Dims now Tell me again

What it was you meant to say

box

rather a box of winds than a sack, then

my heart's carapace. am rust. anointed

danger, nature, lust. rather for what?

am stall, then. rather, a sack of winds.

who trusts in god knows dumb luck's

other half that startles, starts.

inside the box the god in truss. rather the river than the rock

the river breaks on that sack of winds, like something

I whispered into your ear nothing

was said.

On So

So, the navigational show-

stopper, cliff-

singer, the let's not go into this.

So and so I thought because would follow.

We will die so we are human but we are human for we will die,

isn't it beautiful, hasn't it lasted

Chapter Two Translucencies, her death

I couldn't imagine it so I couldn't believe it.

That ragging absence. That thing inside her. No, thinner, a fragility.

Stroking her hair, thick & coarse, gray & red. Her face dusted with perspiration & the thick gargling of mucous in her lungs welling out, air drawing in. Inside her body shutting down her organs parting from their tasks,

"it's not your turn, there is a lake to walk to, there is water to walk along."

Describing the lake we'd walk to.

So inside herself she has no knowing.

I think of an insect - that fly - trapped inside the stained globe of darlingtonia, its spotted translucency, light entering from so many angles & none of them true.

For six months she has been up & down & I have not charted it, not kept track of the progress & what I saw because I did not want to be charting her dying.

That sick - I think you will die first.

But I could have an accident. Your death - imminent, understood, so imposing that

as long as I can die first I can insist on the distance

between your dying & your death.

Easy for me to say

Her eyes were open, she was following me with her sticky eyes. I asked the nurse to clean them. I stroked her forehead, played with her hair. I said to her, "Shirley, I'm playing with your hair."

There is that sweet smell at your bed that leaves the imprint of my teeth in the flesh of my hand.

Afraid my finger would break through her skin.

I had to look. Even from where I stood in the hall outside her door the skin was wrong. Someone said something about the body.

Then someone said something about changing the sheets.

I stared I could not believe that she could be that dead I could not put that person with the person I knew.

Vulnerable, with no vanity, no Shirley left in her, utterly other, utterly not here anymore & so she is invulnerable.

passed away

Strangeness arranges itself around her. A pair of glasses on the bedside table.

At night you visit, slack-jawed gaunt impaled on my imagination.

She wouldn't let go until someone said to her you can

let go now.

Now I understand well up, how if I touch it with my mind, my eyes -

Her death as if she owned it.

She met her death as if it were a thing outside her coming toward her, arm extended & she took it, she took the thing inside her self & it was hers. Became her

It wasn't - pretty, they didn't make her look pretty. Didn't close her mouth or comb her hair or tuck the covers up to hide how thin she was. She was

put to rest

How strange it is how swiftly she retreats

and this is what happens when I try to say how death is - how it settles on the lips, enters the shining mouth.

Chapter Three Letter

How are you? I hate to ask. I got your nails. The old man at Winks who couldn't find them found them on a back shelf. He called them infinitesimal. They are for someone I said who mounts endangered butterflies on velvet-covered coreboard because he wants something beautiful that won't get away against a backdrop that will keep him from valuing the whole thing over much. Then I had another thought. I didn't write it down and I lost it. That's the way I am now. What is the social context of cells?

Today it snowed so I read about the bower bird though cause and effect is mostly tenuous like today and yesterday but get this, the bower bird picks blue to make its nest. Blue this, blue that. The object attends but, really, weather's what's interesting. Every time it just sits down to what it is. When the call came to come in, talk in person it must have added up. That mock-bronchial cough. The day's terminal appointment shit I almost envy you almost knowing where you locate the infinite. Sick! I'm afraid of what you'll miss John. Of missing you. Today Jeff said of a moment in a poem I wrote, "I hate those canned moments in second person direct address when the reader knows it's him who is really being addressed. Romantic!" Does your life feel different, the way immediately you know when the tunnel is no longer France, it has become Italy? That darkness isn't the same and the train rumbles the tracks with a different racket. What I can't ask you couldn't tell me. The darkness is the same. Write soon. Forgive me when I use you. Holding his cup of mucous, cells, erratica, pus, what else? Then something-other's clumsy-handed someone and it spills.

Conjunctions for J. P.

just

after, when respiration had quit -

she stuck, thrust

the vacuum cleaner's hose

head down his throat

to

suck him out

and he could breathe again it didn't

last and he exclaimed

do it again, ohhhhh baby!

while he had air, a joke. it was a joke.

Drive

It must have seemed to him a sign of his secret health that he could drive into the city to pick up his friend who'd flown in to see him off for what more clearly signifies vitality than a stream of cars until they become traffic, rushing over asphalt each to its singular destination - interview, date - any event suggesting a going-on but also a possible opening-up, life swerving - new job, new love, piling up unforeseen signs and exits all with the rest of my life in front that mostly we prefer to call forever, as in "I will love you forever."

So when he pulled up to the pick up passenger zone I was unprepared for his glow. I expected terminal to have tamped him down, sallowed his skin but he was so much the same John I couldn't imagine then how he could get from how he looked to dead in the time they gave him.

It must have seemed to him I was just along for the ride. My life was without weight so we could fly past triple-length trucks in the girdle grip of a viaduct that spit us out on the high flat tail of a bus. I couldn't say slow down and rise to reveal my pettiness. The matter was delicate. Nothing to lose, much, he must have thought he would show me just how easy it could be.

Ad Infinitum

My long-term goal is the peaches, he'd said.

August is my long-term goal.

So then I couldn't help myself.

Real Life #11: Hummingbird

Postponement is my opiate but John's the opposite. He coughs and what he spits into his cup looks like eggwhite between frothy and forms- a-stiff-peak. Look at that hummingbird, he points. Distraction is meant to be contagious. Already he's apologetic. Embarrassed by what his body does; there is no bird outside the window.

There are three cups on the table: coffee (mine) eggnog (his) And in the other one? He has some names for it - lung-latté lung-butter phlegm-fudge cream-pus Here is your life, is the cup half filled? But I don't say it. When the cup's filled he empties it.

After the he said, I said, I asked, he hedged. After he stopped I stopped. After he paused I asked, he turned. I asked. After he died.

John Is in the Next Room

John is in the next room.

The dead man I sit beside who keeps the house up until all hours.

How late is that is a question.

That he is still is to be expected and that he is still John is a surprise.

At the edge of his lip I see a puddle of saliva tremble that would fall were he to move. It is too obvious to mention that moving is beyond him.

And the thing will slip of its own generative mass with a viscosity that promises it will lengthen as it falls,

suture a wet lip to a clean shirt.

The glistening extension snaps. But before that my tongue is close enough to touch it.

John is in the next room.

Inscape

Add Infinitum. Ad Infinitum. Add in Finitum: Infant Item. Ad in fini Tum. To that ad Blue has a quorum. But green has the meadow.

Chapter Four Echo to Narcissus

Nature drives me crazy, how it repeats. Yet I love pattern as I love a promise, to think that what will follow is something I can know. How ring for ring the oak grows. And I in felling it repeat the blows. Narcissus, pattern weds us. And he says "no."

She answers no.

Real Life #14: Vagaries

How it began - Invented in the paroxysms of habit by unmilked women and pale men. That existence was invented? Who invented a language to make existence felt? Babbling in so many tongues like toads on a summer pond, deep evening, the sky going under to the night. And the supper-seeking frogs tonguing the air, their smoothest resilient lover. Here language began on the tongues of those seeking sustenance on the fading evening, on the little deaths that were the answers to the music the evening offered. How invisible he could be.

It went on - How he could hardly talk to anyone or ask any questions, as if he were waiting for permission but there wasn't anyone who could give it to him. He suffered a chronic urgent furtive anxious eagerness to not bother anyone, to cast no shadow, not disturb the air he breathed. And it only made him more conspicuous. It only gave him an air of perpetual anxiety, as if he stood in the check-out line in front of a long line of shoppers. He was scrambling in his pockets for cash and his money had come up short and he had to put something back. But what? He scrounged in his pockets and sweated in the heat of his own overabundant apologies to the shuffling line growing at his back.

How it ended & went on - He lifted the utensil to his mouth, opening his mouth. The mouth was open already in anticipation: parted: between the arm that raised the fork and the mouth that parted an understanding passed: receiving: this

is the body's function because something's always leaving. Like them he's in the first person. Constructed of consequence and as if that's not enough he can see it in the garden, in how the blossom- burdened floribunda understands extravaganza, post- mortem.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Aggregate of disturbances by Michele Glazer Copyright © 2004 by Michele Glazer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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