Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Reverse Verse (Fakiepoems)

The Flatlander, alongside being a closet theologian (maybe "illogician" is a better word -Dr. Spock) was also, it seems, a pantry poety (but not, alas, a panty poet -Hue H). I've found an impressive (in volume if not quality) body of work stuffed in an old, mildew impregnated briefcase in the cellar. The poems are meticulously arranged in what appears to be chronological order, and, according to the dates on each piece, cover a period of almost fifteen years. This coincides roughly with the period during which the Flatlander claims to have been skateboarding.

The poems begin with darkly romantic dirges, heavily inspired, it seems, by Leonard Cohen, though lacking the originality and animation of the so-called Dark Grocer of Despair's verses. In the name of modesty and good taste (we're in trouble if Fakiegrind ever becomes a thermometer for those last two attributes -Aristotle) we won't be publishing any of these pieces here.

The next wave of poems appear to be parodies of Shakespearian sonnets, heavily revised and overwritten so as to be almost illegible, on the theme of unrequited love. These oddly colourful pieces offer a rare insight into a particularly innocuous but amusing variety of impotent male rage, and could be made available to Fakiegrind scholars for a minimal fee, upon request. We won't be publishing them here, though.

After the sonnets, Flatlander seems to have taken an almost three year hiatus, during which he does not appear to have been moved to compose anything more complicated than a grocery list, several of which are included in the files. For example:


luttuce

oil

honeydew

honey

luttuce

oil

dew worms


Finally, in what appears to have been a sudden and franticly brief period of (de)composition, Flatlander seems to have come into his own poetically with a breathtaking series of lyric poems on the subject of skateboarding. Some of these pieces are sufficiently original, we think, to publish here. I particularly like the mystic finality of the following arrangement:



When I Quit Skateboarding

I can no longer coast past the sidewalk gardens
of dusty incense in the fond daylight, riding a plank
of sorrows, and the birdsong littered everywhere, and
people staring into the plain truth of life wrapped
around their question mark interiors.

When the air is used for counting the new leaves dangling
from highway branches, galleries of ocean make-believe
hit upon the fabric of your brow, and you think for a second
that the magazine silences are echoing something necessary.

But to mouth fathomless verse brings comfort to those lost
in the film stretched upon old furniture. You sit by the window
amidst stacks of yellowing comic books. The infrared plots
have leaked from their withering pages. Newspapers
drag fresh histories across your laneway.

Everywhere I go I see them piloting the wind: younger souls
on their wheels of fortune, but I cannot mix the geometry
of Grace with my own means of displacement. Walking
with you down the street, we gathered mysteries from
shop windows where they fell like wounded pigeons,
laughed away the cobweb spectacle of familiarity.
The sky was closing down both sides of loneliness.

I buried my skateboard under an Egyptian pyramid, after
wrapping it in fig leaves, honey and unfinished crosswords.
The wind-blown sands covered the skeleton of my youth
with glacial majesty. Searching for it again
will turn up only splinters and lipstick.



As a testament to the nostalgia of entropy, this poem has a certain poignancy to it. It seems that Flatlander had been planning to kick the kickflip habit for some time, though one of the last entries in his journal betray the tenacity with which his feet seem to cling to the grip tape:

Signed up as a skatecamp instructor today--why? Five days of touring the parks with a bus load of kids, teaching them the basics, can't be too bad. If I take it easy, my knees might make it through. Treat it as a kind of community service. Maybe then I'll be allowed to retire. All these years I've thought that I was doing the skating, now it's clear that some kind of larger entity is using us to further its own intractable plans.

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