Amiri Baraka, “Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note” … the hum of spiders…

Baraka-master675-v2
the hum of spiders:
an anthology
of works & words

 
 
Amiri Baraka

 
 
“Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note”
 

Lately, I’ve become accustomed to the way
The ground opens up and envelopes me
Each time I go out to walk the dog.
Or the broad edged silly music the wind
Makes when I run for a bus…

Things have come to that.

And now, each night I count the stars.
And each night I get the same number.
And when they will not come to be counted,
I count the holes they leave.

Nobody sings anymore.

And then last night I tiptoed up
To my daughter’s room and heard her
Talking to someone, and when I opened
The door, there was no one there…
Only she on her knees, peeking into

Her own clasped hands.

 
*

Amiri Baraka’s poem sticks in my head and will not unread itself. It’s there for good. The work – in such a short space – has as powerful an image of childhood as may be possible. I’m in awe of the way this poem unfolds. Three stark lines anchor the poem – visually and thematically: a desperate run, lost songs, two clasped hands. Remarkable balance.

Distress is ever present – the ground opens, a run for the bus, uncounted stars, holes, an end of song – stretching the human psyche to the edges of real life. It’s a life removed from glamour, intrigue, and epic – a day-to-day setting that W.C. Williams would have applauded. A door opens – such a wonderful trope. And somehow, the child, the poem’s power-center, turns inward – away from father, away from the world, away from misery – in a search for self, and endures.

I do like the fact that Baraka presents the father, although clearly vulnerable, as one who realizes strength in the daughter. He, in poses of reaction to a world he doesn’t understand, is running, counting holes, tiptoeing, while She, prophetic and heroic, is looking – or peeking, an appealing word choice – into the great wilderness.

Undeniably, an impressive piece of writing.
 
 
 
 
***
 
 
 
 

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~ by samofthetenthousandthings on January 2, 2016.

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