13., FROM THE FIELD, POEM ABOUT HAPPINESS
This morning was so eerie
the car’s windows were white with frost
the frost wouldn’t go away, I drove all the same
as in a bad dream, with my head out of the window
the others beeped, the others signalled
Here is another experience in a car: the ice
not being able to stop, sliding, onward, going through a red light, with the brake to the floor
Another experience: the snow
and the sprinkler that doesn’t work, the windscreen a grey-brown mass
opaque, on the motorway, and the children in the back
Yet another: the car door opens
it’s happened several times, the car doors, on the motorway, the motorways, the children
The traffic is unreal, often
I’ve been about to be killed or to kill in it
and it hasn’t happened after all
I’m on the third floor in the big red house looking out
it’s late, the children are asleep, outside it’s getting dark
When you’re least expecting it
Charles Reznikoff says at a reading in San Francisco in 1974
the light goes out
And when you’re least expecting it again, he says
the light goes on
FROM THE FIELD
This is a nature poem which is also concerned with other things, other things do exist three cold greenhouses, their damp industry, yellow in the mist in the field, can you feel like the field, how can you identify yourself with it, with such a place, with a ploughed field, a strange open space, a body without organs.
The field ought to take more exercise, it knows it only too well, it doesn’t go to a fitness centre, it takes the car to work. The field doesn’t know when it would find time to exercise, the field doesn’t understand how everybody else finds time to exercise, what they give a miss. The field gave up smoking a long time ago, but not smoking isn’t enough.
On a trip to Paris without the kids the field asks, do you think we’re having a crisis. Yes, comes the immediate reply. A little too immediate, the field feels, it hadn’t expected that, the field falls silent. Has to spend a little time working out what needs to be said.
The field spends far too much time on Facebook.
The field spends far too much time watching TV.
The field spends far too little time taking exercise.
According to the field’s nearest and dearest the field spends far too much time on the toilet in the mornings. The field just sits out there, waking up. The field is a slow waker.
The field sometimes thinks it’s unhappy in a mild and ordinary way that makes it happy because it thinks that it’s probably perfectly normal, and that makes it happy because it thinks things could be much worse, which makes it afraid because it thinks things could still get much worse, so it tries to think of something else.
The field has never been outside Europe.
The field has difficulty being where it is, it sounds like a cliché, but that’s how it is. The field texts a lot, the field surfs the net a lot, the field is afraid of missing out on something, the field has a lot on the go. It keeps itself well up to date, it wants to know what everybody else is doing right now.
The field isn’t particularly interested in nature, nature lover isn’t a word you’d think of when you think about the field, it’s not interested in animals or trees or flowers or whatever it is about nature that nature lovers are interested in. The best experience of nature the field has had was at the fair ground in Roskilde; it went up in a little aeroplane, there were four people in the plane, it was very intimate, nature is beautiful seen from above, the plane was red.
The field used to love dancing, drinking and dancing, but after someone took pictures with a mobile phone at a company do and passed them round, it hasn’t quite been the same. The field has noticed it’s become more inhibited.
The field isn’t interested in pesticides.
The field thinks it makes no difference what it’s interested in, the field will in any case have forced upon it and be exposed to both this and that, no matter what it’s interested in, and that’s what you have to take notice of, in the field’s opinion.
The field loves talking on the phone, the intimacy of it, being together without being together, the sound of the other person in their own sitting room, the sudden nearness that can be broken off as you wish like turning off the TV. It can talk for several hours until its ear gets warm and dark red and throbbing.
The field likes pretty hands.
The field is fond of long legs.
Tits or arse, the field is a tit-field.
The field looks mainly at the eyes, at the look in them.
The field notices shoulder blades.
Stepfamilies, what to think of them, the field doesn’t have any particular opinion, it has merely noted that they are the norm now, the normal, that the phenomenon no longer warrants any special attention, whether it’s good for the children, whether it’s bad. Is it possible to imagine that it could even be skill-developing for the children, like a kind of long group examination, yes, the field thinks, yes, it’s not entirely impossible, but if you inquire more closely it doesn’t feel like explaining or developing the thought further.
You can do anything, walk in anywhere, open a door, stop people on the street, kiss them, hit them, you can smash a window, jump out somewhere, overturn something, steal a car, sweep someone’s yard, feed the animals, shoot them, you can strip off everywhere, turn out the light, hang up, say anything you like to anyone you like, interrupt, sing, what’s the worst that can happen, what’s the worst that can happen: thinking about it makes the field feel insecure.
The feeling of claustrophobia is very real. The field frequently feels this way; as if it really were in a very small room. The problem with the feeling of claustrophobia is that you can’t leave it behind, the problem with the feeling of claustrophobia is that it follows you.
Maybe it isn’t a feeling of claustrophobia, the field thinks, maybe this is just how it feels to be unfit.
The field can’t, it’s tried all morning, think of the word improper. Independent, irresponsible, unfeeling, no, exposed, no, it can’t think of it. When it manages to later in the day, finally, the field speculates about whether it’s important, that it’s precisely this word its subconscious represses, it speculates about whether it perhaps should seek professional help. The field thinks about what otherwise might lie hidden, which words and which reasons for forgetting them, whether it might be serious, whether it might be something it wants to be confronted with. The field realises it’s wringing its hands and stops doing so immediately.
POEM ABOUT HAPPINESS
What should a poem about happiness look like
presumably not like this
Do you have to be happy in order to write a poem about happiness
or should you, precisely, not be happy
should you be made happy by reading it
I think happiness has to do with the concrete
with objects and places
happiness is to be found in a specially apportioned space of time
There’s a blue lacquerware bowl
which I own which I think about
when I think about happiness
There’s a piece of mended ceramics from Italy
which also makes me think of Elsa
but I don’t think we were ever happy
I don’t think about people
when I think about happiness
I think about alcohol
The feeling of happiness is the feeling of schnapps
Koskenkorva vodka maybe grappa
sliding through me
A sun spreads through the body
and the rays reach brain and cock
at the same time rushing
Like the wind rushes around the ears
of the runner who runs senselessly
happy and alone on the road