Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Sad Hummmingbird of Smug Pretention

With the exit of Jimmy Boyd and Steve (Hertz) Berg from the editorial pages, we've lost the "Codpieces" and other institutional voice incoherent rage. That, alas, is our loss.

However the powers that be down at Portland Avenue must have noticed the lack of quality posting here at KAR following the exit of those two Cro Magnons, and have decided to help a brother out. Today, we get not only spittle flecked elitist rage, but be also get said rage folded into layers and layers of absurdity. We get it from American expat in Iceland. We get it in verse:

I spend my summers in north Iceland, escaping heat and tornados. Mostly though, I try to scribble books in a quiet, chilly place outside the orbit of the English language and the noise of daily life in America. After a few weeks of silence, I begin hearing the tunes in my own head better. Then, after a few months of solitude, I begin to think about home, particularly Minnesota -- what a peculiar place it is, and my connection to it. My Icelandic is so poor that the newspapers defeat me; I have no radio, no TV, no Internet. Some days I forget the president's name.

(That's from the drugs....)

I wrote the following prose poem on Aug. 2 after hearing a garbled version [The drugs... -ed.] on Icelandic state radio of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. At first I thought I had misunderstood, but my neighbor Hallgrimur, who was giving me a lift to Akureyri [Shameless nomendroppur! -ed.] to pick up a book manuscript at the airport, assured I'd heard it right. It wasn't clear from the report which bridge had fallen, and the casualty figures were of course inaccurate. But it was enough to shock me. When the car stopped, I wrote the poem in a fit of grief and anger and puzzlement.

Hey, that's normal. I know lots of people who carry around a pad of recycled paper and a soy ink pen just in case they get angry and have to let off a little steam with a slanderous sonnet.

The Mississippi River is the prime metaphor here: the aorta of the United States, our great divider and uniter and symbol, now troubled in only a short time both at its mouth and at its beginning.

"Source." The word you're looking for is "source".

What do the disasters on the river tell us about ourselves in 2007?

That hurricanes and bad gusset plates can cause disasters?

I'm afraid the news is not good, but perhaps I think that because I heard so little news that it affects me like a great dropped stone.

Aug. 2, 2007: American News

More black news from Minnesota.

A bridge over the Mississippi falls down: nine dead,

twenty missing, details unclear...

All this arrives in half-understood Icelandic over state radio

while I am driving to Akureyri.

Point of composition - was that above introduction really necessary, when you just basically said the same thing here?

Oh, right. This is a self-absorbed artiste. He likes the sound of his own (inner) voice.

I imagine cars hurtling over the interstate bridge down into

the now-tepid waters of the river.

The sky above a humid hundred, cries and shrieks muffled

in the saturated air.

Bridges are not supposed to fall down in invincible "can-do" America.

The Brooklyn Bridge does not fall down.

The iron gates of the locks in the Panama Canal have opened and closed

every day since 1913.

The generators hum below the Hoover Dam to feed the electrical jolt

that cools, lights and irrigates the west.

The motor in the old Buick purrs after 250,000 miles.

We build to last! We are the world's engineers!

Suddenly we lose all our steadily stupider wars; the currency evaporates,

we're afraid of every moving shadow.

The Fed-Ex clerk in Minneapolis has never heard of Iceland.

I call bullshit!

The self-reverential arrogance and elitist tone of this pinhead has inspired me. Doubly so.

It has inspired in me a deep compassion for my readers along with a sudden new respect for the copyrights of others, thus forcing me to abandon it's retelling here.

Secondly, it has inspired a poem. A "prose-poem" if you will.


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