Excerpt from “Club Sounds” by Peter Myers
While we have all been occupied elsewhere a new wave has been forming. It has no name but is best characterized as multiple iterations of climax coming in quick succession, like pulses of light or logic stalking the club on a given evening. The bass that breathes is the ground of this wave, the light its frothed- up leading edge. Thing is that the context has been rubbed out. There is no gradual build-up but only the machine-gunning of payoff after payoff that has received no note or documentation from the environs to justify its existence. Here the apotheosis of the form is its only way of being. Climax is the constant, the “new normal.” The operation at such a high level of risk for such a lengthy and consistent overture of time results in what some have described as a “drying out” of climax, husking it out of the picture, in a process akin to that of our grey society’s constant political, social, cultural, technological advancements, which offer such a consistent and rhythmic pace of improvement that we have come to incorporate this known pace into every aspect of our daily lives, most notably our consumption habits and their broadcasting, i.e.
When facebook and twitter and other portals of ever more mediated sociality revise themselves as they are wont to do there is always a backlash, a bellyaching about ugly color scheme or new user interface that is less intuitive than even one’s own body. But before long the uproar settles into a quieter simmering, like beans or bones worrying away on the stovetop, and we decide they can certainly be allowed to go about the whole business on their own for now, no harm done, no harm in a taste of independence during the twilight years, or for a more pertinent metaphor: the pubescing boys and girls who are of course granted independence but never let out of sight without the smartest phone, messaging plan, tracking device implanted in in some cases the boulevard of the sternum, and who will be called back to the grass-ridden quarry before the night is gone to testify about what they have seen and what has passed them by in the carousel of discontent which we so belaboredly call “modern life,” and which
To return to our earlier theme, is defined as a rhythmic and deliberately plotted series of climaxes that unfold at a moderate but constant pace designed to upset nary a sensibility: for those pacing impatiently the halls before the slowly- revolving door of the future the wait will be at worst a minor aggravation, knowing that the next pulse or swell is taking its sweet time, yes, but will arrive as scheduled; while those who would be scared to death of barreling ahead too rapidly are placated into nothing more than a trenchant melancholy, a mourning for what has given up the ghost into the fuckery that lies beyond and now exists as nothing more than a smooth and gaudy doodad along the lines of the crystal songbirds your grandmother’s cousin Alice brought home from Czechoslovakia many years ago and many years before she suffered a stroke or a fall or some other non-insignificant medical episode in her home in The Plains, VA, she wasn’t found for three days, she was nearly dead my father said, gone away like Albert her husband, or her young grandson, he disappeared on a lake, he would’ve been around my age now, smooth and featherless like all birds deep down, a body aimless, filled with resin, representative of times and places and apparatus of feeling that existed once but now have been left behind in the wastebasket of the waiting room of the past that takes all the blows of fear and mourning and melancholy and asks for nothing in return
Because everything that it wants it takes and takes it without reservation. When I was at the museum of memory and human rights, for instance, there was a poem written by a woman whose mother was taken away by men with an easy faith in their own violence. At the time of taking, the woman was eight and her mother was three months pregnant. The woman’s mother did not survive; the unborn child remained so. Her poem contained two different kinds of pain: the pain of losing what she knew and loved, and the pain’s twin, the pain of losing what she did not yet know and love before it even could be known, let alone loved, leaving the never-being-known and never-being-loved to hang from the woman’s neck like a rotten locket that instead of containing being-known and being-loved contained its negative, its anti-twin. The woman’s poem was about this pain, pain with twin and anti-twin, a pain which is very great and greater than any pain I’ve felt in my short and turgid life. I do not know if her poem is a great poem, though the poem’s pain is great. Yet it does not require a great poem to bear great pain, nor does the greatness of a poem lend corresponding greatness to its pain; a great poem can traffic solely in the null and painless. Life is not null, nor is it painless: this is one thing that has become lodged in my heart during this short and turgid life of mine.
You can read the rest of “Club Sounds” in our Long Poetry Issue.
Peter Myers lives in Philadelphia, where he teaches adult ESL and works in elementary education. His poetry has recently appeared in Prelude and the Berkeley Poetry Review, and is forthcoming in Salt Hill.