Sorry to be MIA, a ratatouille of obstacles thrown in my path this week. Here we go: I escape from work, play hooky, and ride the subway all the way to the editor's house in Brooklyn on a Thursday afternoon. Lungfull Magazine, one of the upstart radical poetry experiments lurking within the bowels of this city. I'm  on the editorial board. Once a year, about six of us meet here, at Brendan Lorber's home across the street from a very old cemetery. Today, its green is outlawed by its grey, as a Nor-Easter storms through the metropole. Caught umbrella-less, I knock and wait for the door to open but no one's home yet. I cross the street and shape-shift among the gravestones.

The other editors have dropped by already, some in pairs, some individually, over the last few weeks to go over submissions. Leaving comments, yays, nays on each envelope. A very civil, democratic process among a spectrum of several hundred submissions per issue gets whittled down to about 40. The magazine and its website is an accurate foray into the very smart wit of its editor-in-chief. Each piece is published with a scan of the original handwritten draft next to it, every crossed t and scratched-out bit, right there, revealing how far the destination from the origin.

I'm set-up at his kitchen table; a pile of maybes in front, a pile of unopened virgins to the right, a plate of cheese and crackers with a short shot of straight whiskey to the left...and his 8-month old daughter seated across from me. She's so calm, she's never this calm, daddy says. Her piercing blue eyes, staring through me. I'm sure she senses my boy or maybe it's my beard. But daddy puts his twist on and says, she's probably commiserating.

The combo of editing, drowning rain, and family setting somehow gets me thinking of place as mess. Okay, not as in the house was a mess...I told Brendan I may mention this visit on the blog he immediately gave me more liquor and handed me his wallet. No, the house was as warm and inviting as you'd want for a sloppy wet pup.

I mean mess in writing. Leaving the signposts in the poem as you get towards your place. Whatever that blessed ending place is, which doesn't reveal itself until after the poem's conclusion, for me anyway...if ever. The settled place in the poem, a reflection of where I am when it arrived. And matching that to the world's revolution, the reader's internal mess, a confusion of mass. How many extra words or lines get us to the next reader or writer. Seeing the original drafts of poems next to their published version, opens up just how far straying from the first thought makes for a second thought.

Originally Published: October 17th, 2009

A self-proclaimed “lingualisualist” rooted in the languages of sight and sound, Edwin Torres was born in the Bronx and is a longtime resident of New York City. He is a poet whose highly acclaimed performances and live shows combine vocal and physical improvisation and theater. He is the author of...

  1. October 17, 2009

    I appreciate that you Harriet bloggers have to manufacture words and with some semblance of a storied tale. I've never elected to write for hire. It's got to be a hard way to go.\r


  2. October 18, 2009
     Edwin Torres

    On the contrary, I look at the storied tale as the dna of confusion...the mess I'm getting at in this post. Harriet gives me a chance for the everyday to unearth another weave out of the tale...subverting Thoreau, "to go fishing knowing it is not the fish I'm after."