Friday, June 27, 2008

24. XXXX - Michael Hofmann

I'm just hoping that title doesn't bring a whole load of people to this blog who are looking for something very different from poetry! I'm sorry, hardcore people, but blame Michael Hofmann who chose the title. You might like this better in any case.

XXXX is about being 40. But it’s as though the narrator is going through a kind of male menopause! He pisses in bottles, chews longlife food, identifies with a fox, and decides to “spend a wet evening under a tree.”

The images are wacky but not so wacky that they appear unbelievable. He veers near the edge when he writes;

For half an hour, amid palpitations, I watched
two children I was sure were mine.

The humour is dark, the sense of chaos not unfamiliar. Only the radio, which he keeps on as much as his father ever did, gives him a sense of equilibrium and stops the world from sliding away from under his feet.

I loved this poem, while feeling slightly scared by it, maybe because the unstated truths it hints at are rather close to home. My favourite lines are:

I’m forty. I free the jammed light-push with my fingernails
to give the hall a rest.

3 comments:

Background Artist said...

i can't find a four X text online, so am unable to respond with any critical last word on it, but can tell yah that some one in the city of london came to my blog after googling

*dogging in barnsley*

i have often read others -- though it seems to have gone off the boil of late -- of unusual terms in the search engine/s that bring us the majority of regular, zero second readrs; as the person looking for casual encounters in the sexy copses with car parks, industrial wasteground, (perhaps?), backs of supermarkets and gawd knows what other outdoor dens of net assisted seediness South Yorkshire has to offer the outdoor sex with total strangers addicts.

Noh theatre, Concrete poetry and only intellectual intercourse available at the lamposts on the sidhe round/s

Anonymous said...

O god .. this poem reminds me of a year spent in Dublin doing nothing but sitting in a bedsit armchair listening to Talk Radio for 18 hours a day while playing endless games of patience with a pack of miniature playing cards. The cards were laid out on a hardback book which balanced on my knees. One ring of the two-ring cooker worked .. the communal bath was shared by five people. The constant smell of cooking which came from the upper flat was just the guy's body odour. I stole Ted Hughes' 'Winter Pollen' from the Rathmines bookshop and read far too much Qabalah.

There's something worse than mid-life crisis going on in this poem I think.

ABJ

Rob said...

I agree. The images are right out on the edge of sanity.