from My Life: Reason looks for two, then arranges it from there

By Lyn Hejinian b. 1941 Lyn Hejinian

Reason looks for        Where I woke and was awake, in the
two, then                  room fitting the wall, withdrawn, I
arranges it                had my desk and thus my corner.
from there                While waiting, waltz. The soles of
                               our boots wear thin, but the soles of
                               our feet grow thick. The difference
                               between “he presented his argument”   
and “they had an argument.”   I still respond to the academic   
year, the sound of the school bell, the hot Wednesday morn-
ing after Labor Day. Must the physiologist stand apart from   
the philosopher. We are not forgetting the patience of the   
mad, their love of detail. The sudden brief early morning
breeze, the first indication of a day‘s palpability, stays high in   
the trees, while flashing silver and green the leaves flutter, a   
bird sweeps from one branch to another, the indistinct   
shadows lift off the crumpled weeds, smoke rises from the   
gravel quarry——all this is metonymy. The “argument”   is the   
plot, proved by the book. Going forward and coming back   
later. Even posterity, alas, will know Sears. As for we who   
“love to be astonished,” there are fences keeping cyclones.   
Might be covered, on the ground, by no distance. She spread   
her fingers as she spoke, talking of artifice, which extends   
beauty beyond nature. Perhaps it is only a coincidence. For,   
as Neitzsche put it, “If a man has character, he will have the   
same experience over and over again.” In the morning at eight   
I sense the first threat of monotony. Give a penny with a   
knife. Candor is the high pitch of scrutiny. I was tired of   
ideas, or, rather, the activity of ideas, a kind of exercise, had   
first invigorated me and then made me sleepy, so that I felt
just as one does after a long, early morning walk, returning   
unable to decide whether to drink more coffee or go back to   
sleep. The uncommon run of keeping oneself to oneself. The   
piggy-back plant is o.k. Tell anyone who telephones that I’m   
not home. I liked doing that, had made rooms for dolls on   
trucks that way, looking in on them through windows. It was   
a pretense of keeping our distance from anything that ap-
peared pretentious. A sorry mess, but well-framed. As if a   
contorted checkerboard formed the portrait of a handsome   
woman in a hat of several ochres and umbers. The dog circles   
more than a moth before resting. Let the traffic pass. They   
were on vacation and therefore bored. Someone wanted to go   
away from everywhere forever but jumped into the bay. We   
were warned such accidents happen while mothers talk on   
phones. A doodled gnarled tree. Milk belongs to the   
mythology of cats but it makes them sick. Ours was a stray   
with ringworm. One night each year on Boston’s Beacon Hill   
the curtains remained undrawn and the public was invited to   
peek in. I didn’t wear my dark glasses because I didn’t want a   
raccoon tan. Yet this needs shading in. It seemed that I didn’t,   
after all, want a birthday empty of sentimentality. It’s on the   
compulsive buyer’s rack up front. The real adversary of my   
determination was determinism, regulating and limiting the   
range and degree of difference between things of one day and   
things of the next. I got it from Darwin, Freud, and Marx.   
Not fragments but metonymy. Duration. Language makes   
tracks.

Lyn Hejinian, “Reason looks for two, then arranges it from there” from My Life. Copyright © 1987 by Lyn Hejinian. Reprinted with the permission of Green Integer Books, www.greeninteger.com.

Source: My Life (Sun & Moon Press, 1987)

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Poet Lyn Hejinian b. 1941

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Language & Linguistics

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

 Lyn  Hejinian

Biography

A founding figure of the Language writing movement of the 1970s, and an influential force in the world of experimental and avant-garde poetics, Lyn Hejinian’s poetry is characterized by an unusual lyricism and descriptive engagement with the everyday. Like most Language writing, her work enacts a poetics that is theoretically sophisticated. While Language writing is stylistically diverse and, as a movement, difficult to reduce . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Language & Linguistics

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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