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What Is It about Curves?

Ron Charach
From:   Petrushkin!. Ekstasis Editions,1999


What is it about curves
that makes drivers Indy up their speed
and two men walking towards each other
reach for secret holsters?
Why are rectangular dens
less homey than squares,
forcing the use of cherry-wood screens,
to slice ovals into arcs and circles
for a private, mathematical
taste?
What is it about Joseph Conrad,
who came to English late with a square's love
of philosophical abstractions, skin-shades and foreign accents?
Andy says Conrad "tries too hard"
'calumny, stratagem, inexpugnable',
his armoury of words intentional
as platform shoes.
For what feels like a year
I sneak his precious Lord Jim on the subway.
Lately Patrick Hamilton steers my sea-faring,
his over-armed Sophie more than a match
for Conrad's creaky Patna
bulging with white-sheeted pilgrims
- or is she?
Whatever became of Nicholas Montsarrat's Cruel Sea
where bobbing blue-lipped sailors shouted
"Russia! Prussia! Austria!" as a giant sneeze
to keep alive in the freezing waters?
What is it about taste?
Why do some poets, corrupted by the tenor
of their own voices always read aloud their worst work,
saving the delicious obscurities
for the tiniest non-occasions,
an hour of solitude in an air-conditioned office
(square, but with a curved bay window).
There are days when the contents of my mind
are held together by duct tape.
At such times I take up reading
with its stiff-necked postures.
I tune in, say, to Szymborska's View with a grain of sand,
To 'Notes from a nonexistent Himalayan expedition'.
"So these are the Himalayas."



Ron Charach's works copyright © to the author.


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