Sunday, December 20, 2009

abandoned church front door somewhere in America, photo © bob arnold


Yes, this new prose poem of yours (not the photograph above) of dictionary wonder is yet one more of your word-association marvels. Crushed by a word, even one letter, you (Jewell), will investigate. You have a series of these mounting, regular poems even, and there is at least one hiding out in your Longhouse booklet. A booklet I picked up and put down this evening from its shelf over where I wrap book orders. There it is, tiny being, looking at me, or am I looking at it? We're both looking.

Somehow, and I know why, and you will too, I feel these prose poem investigations (not quite the word but it's late and I'm about to head to bed with a book) are being written in another sort of kinship with the French: Ponge, Follain, Char etc. Unlike the French, yours are humorous. I'm thankful for that — and not humorous in a Steven Wright wisecracking way. These are full-bodied, nothing-to-hide funny. I still think the best kind. Buster Keaton would enjoy these poems of yours, Jewell. He'd try to have you reading this prose poem aloud from an upper window, while the whole end of the building, with you in the window, came down and just missed Buster standing there on cue and no one is hurt. You know that famous stunt of his, don’t you? Well, now you are in the stunt! The whole outer wall of the building with you in it and the prose poem in your hand flying and down comes the wall and Keaton doesn't have any fear. None. He never does. All because of your prose poem. It was a real good idea of yours to have that window open.

Earlier in the week someone wrote to tell me he had Cid's elegant
OF volumes 1&2 and he wanted us to have it and was willing to barter anything from Longhouse for the swap. I reached to the sky with my arms to see how high they would reach and they reached to a dozen Longhouse booklets. Of my choice. I would barter with the mystery well-wisher 12 booklets for the mighty Cid. The man much enjoyed my offer and the deal was sealed with a mere two letters. No arguments, no fuss no muss, no suspicions, no manipulating a transaction so one 'wins' over the other, no plan about just sending my work and only my work for this reader’s enjoyment. I started at “A” in the filing cabinet (and now I am back mimicking your fine dictionary prose poem and its love for individual letters) and I had 12 booklets picked out by the time I reached John Martone in the M's. What is it with John? always hiding out in the M's, keeping all the short marvel majestic mighty-mouse size poems to his M-self. Lucky us!

I have the booklets ready and I await the grandiose Cid volumes and this guy's address and out will go his 12. He made a slight complaint this morning that it cost him $13.75 to ship the two volumes in their slipcase priority mail. So I wrote back that I have since slipped into the fair trade, a 13th booklet for all his troubles. I feel only generosity from the man.

You know, I'm convinced wars could end with this style of protocol. Probably started, too.

Bob Arnold says, if someone gives you a fair shake, shake something back in return.