from The Fatalist: Time is filled with beginners. You are right. Now

By Lyn Hejinian b. 1941 Lyn Hejinian
Time is filled with beginners. You are right. Now
each of them is working on something
and it matters. The large increments of life must not go by   
unrecognized. That’s why my mother’s own mother-in-law   
was often bawdy. “MEATBALLS!” she would shout   
superbly anticipating site-specific specificity in the future   
of poetry. Will this work? The long moment is addressed
to the material world’s “systems and embodiments” for study   
for sentience and for history. Materiality, after all, is about being   
a geologist or biologist, bread dough rising
while four boys on skateboards attempt to fly,
spinning to a halt micromillimeters before I watch them, my attention riveted
on getting tangled and forgetting the name of the chair, for example   
and the huge young man, he is covered with tattoos
I think. Life is a series of given situations
of which the living have to take note on site
and the storytellers give an account as the wind
tangles the rain or the invaders take over the transmitter. The exchange   
of ideas constitutes a challenge to the lyric ego. And so I am reporting   
that I was wrong. A real storyteller never asks what story one wants   
to hear, not the happy Joel nor the sleepy
Clara nor the dreamy Jane, the seductive Sam, the sullen
Robbie Jones. Nonetheless I have bought a bicycle. I have to remember   
to stop. Thank you. I hope you will enjoy it. A bike that is simply locked   
but freestanding will be immediately stolen. Of course
there can’t be much wrong in helping people get what they want   
but creeps and purveyors of negativity
and cruelty are tucked into every institution
and most corners and though my inclination is to vote
in favor of everyone’s dearest dreams of advancement I disagree   
with the remark that “deathlessness” and “fearlessness” don’t work.   
I think they do. “Deathlessness” immediately invokes the “breathlessness” we thought
we’d half heard in the panting of deathlessness whose dashing   
is life. “Writhing” is self-indulgent however
but the near-rhyme with “writing” is terrific. Don’t change that. Poetry   
can’t be about flight — that would make flight a perching
instead of a flight. When one thing becomes another
the other is free to become something
else. I remember just where
we were sitting
under the influence of the wind
watching a crow
becoming something else in this case
a crow.
The state of milk in jars takes place
and the state of world affairs
can now change. No cereal manufacturer intentionally includes angels
but marshmallow bits may look angelic in a bowl. Who knows? A poem
full of ruptures could be one from which all kinds of things are flying.

Lyn Hejinian, “Time is filled with beginners. You are right. Now ...” from The Fatalist. Copyright © 2003 by Lyn Hejinian. Reprinted with the permission of Omnidawn Publishing, www.omnidawn.com.

Source: The Fatalist (Omnidawn Publishing, 2003)

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Poet Lyn Hejinian b. 1941

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Living, Poetry & Poets, Language & Linguistics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Living, Poetry & Poets, Language & Linguistics

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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