Hilma af Klint, “Group I, Primordial Chaos, No. 16 (Grupp 1, Urkaos, nr 16), from The WU/Rose Series (Serie WU/Rosen)” (1906–1907), oil on canvas, 53 x 37 cm, The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm (photo by Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm)

[BROOKLYN 5/25/18]

It would be too easy to say that love vanished from the earth, to say
an emptied mountain struck its hollowest note and sounded
unlike anything else. I text the same three people every day, sometimes
four. How fast that dream left me when I woke out of it, snorted up
into a catalog of faces pinioned with long and draping hair. Unrecognizably,
I am thinking of something else. Not a dream or a short, transparent reality
like the outer bend of my eyes or a limping thought poking around the calendar
for an approximate location. Something else. And I really don’t feel I know enough
to say what it is. Shouldn’t a work of sufficient emotion optimize any morning
into a cascade of murmuring strings that appear to fix the ground
to an object vast enough to be in the continual distance? I knocked on that door
once, and I think beyond it was all spaghetti. Life’s things do pile up like that,
though I’m daily assured that I can be driven into a normative clarity,
wiping away thoughts like they’d accumulated on a windshield.

Andrew sent me a new story of his yesterday about an empty-handed search
for a fabled painting of Guibert, whose only evidence of existence was its appearance
in L’Homme au chapeau rouge, which I have not read. Andrew later emailed me
to clarify the search is fictional and the narrative cribbed from L’Homme.
The story is beautiful — one of my favorites of his, now. The image of never having
been though still having, distinct and existent as anything else, a life
hangs clear and unguarded and doubles as a volume of forgetting one
pages through while sitting up from bed or even walking to the kitchen
maybe for coffee if I remembered to buy a bag of beans at the store yesterday.

[WASHINGTON 10/3/18]

At the center of what lives and dreams
an unmistakable and debtless intelligence
or a cataclysm of unmanaged resources
that could buy time as if it were being sold
like a PowerBar or blank note pad: an unfinished
categorizing of OTC suggestions could work
my heart blue then yellow sky
over the long drool of attractions their
copious marginalia. Feel and swelling
under the surface like music fills a balloon.

There were two of us then there were several
invented by way of an elementary connection
that spans a small room provided for too many
to wait in. To get back to basics would mean
valuing ourselves last or breaking a halo of reason.
That much was ever certain but hardly assured.

*   *   *

Ted Dodson is the author of At The National Monument / Always Today (Pioneer Works, 2016). He is a contributing editor for BOMB and an editor of Futurepoem.

Readers are encouraged to submit 3–5 poems as a PDF to Wendy Xu for consideration at poetry@hyperallergic.com.

Wendy Xu is the author of the poetry collections Phrasis (Fence, 2017), winner of the 2016 Ottoline Prize, and You Are Not Dead (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2013). The recipient of a Ruth...

One reply on “Two Poems by Ted Dodson”

  1. OMG I read that line “Shouldn’t a work of sufficient emotion optimize any morning
    into a cascade of murmuring strings that appear to fix the ground
    to an object vast enough to be in the continual distance?” – so freaking good – such a eloquent articulation of that thirst for renewed inspiration….

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