Yesterday I took a long intermission from Aoyama Shinji's nearly 4-hour long film Eureka (a beautifully shot murder-mystery, in spectral sepia) in order to attend a reading at Beyond Baroque. Jen Hofer started the night off by throwing abstract javelins at the audience. Naomi Uman's film Hand Eye Coordination followed. Unfortunately, the projector sound went out during the last minute and a half of the film. Naomi was understandably unwilling to screen two new recently completed shorts without sound, but we sulked and bleated anyway until Garrett approached the podium. I found "Stay With Me", a poem from his book Some Mantic Daemons, particularly moving. He said that it was written after the death by overdose of a long lost friend. I also had an old friend die on me, though under much more mysterious circumstances. Unseen for many years, even by his own family, his remains were discovered deep in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The manner of his death was ruled inconclusive. When someone close to you dies it's always terrible, but when you haven't seen that someone for many years the grief becomes almost like a haunting. I think about him often, and I think about other friends unknown to me for years, and though I know I will never see him again, I wouldn't be surprised if I ran into him at a gas station in my hometown. His absence makes me feel old. Garrett's poem ends:
It's September, late September and everything
has changed though I in my body and the same
feeling runs through and through like blood
in a heart, bile in a spleen, beauty
in an ideal when it makes itself appear
as the symptom of an imitation
carried out by adults which, unlike that of children,
does not spare the spectators the most painful experiences
and can yet be felt by them as highly enjoyable.
Beyond that, dust alone exists.
Please leave a message.
I tried to write something about my friend after he died but it was not as eloquent as this. Maybe I'll try again some day. After Garrett's reading, Simone Forti read from her new book. I know her primarily as a dancer (though admittedly not very well -- I think she was involved with the Judson Dance Theater during the 1960s). Many of her poems explicitly addressed the post-9/11 situation. In one piece she conversed with her late father, a practical and perhaps conservative man, about the excesses of our current administration. Another ghostly conversation that made me feel old in the reading room.