William Carlos Williams: This Is Just To Say

by Layah, Creative Director
__________________________________________________________________________________________

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH
 4/2 - Richard Siken Tells Me We'll Never Get Used To It, by Po, EIC
 4/3 - William Carlos Williams: This Is Just To Say, by Layah, CD

To some kind of liberator:

This is just to say

That once I was polished, upholstered, and wreathed.

This is just to say

That more than once I wore the silk hat.

This is just to say

That I too seek “radiant gists.”

This is just to say,

That when he said, “Forget all rules, forget all restrictions, as to taste, as to what ought to be said, write for the pleasure of it,” I found myself in an abyss. An abyss an abyss an abyss.  So sweet and so cold. A breeze so welcome though I’m warm blooded. An expansiveness. Can lungs breathe on their own? I’ve forgotten.

I guess William Carlos Williams reminded me. What, really, is the difference between two people and one century?

Last year I spent more time alone than ever in my life. The kind of alone where spending five hours walking around a city by yourself feels the same as spending five hours talking to someone on a bus feels the same as spending five hours in a room with someone you’re supposed to call a friend because you’re dropped into a class together in a foreign country feels the same as spending five hours staring at the grass a too beautiful green for anything to blossom . . . yet somehow every blink is still a wish.

An abyss an abyss an abyss.

One day I walked away from a conversation having spoken words that didn’t feel like mine anymore and I thought, I would have been honest if I knew there were words to be honest with. Not the first time this English language has failed me. Not the last. I just want words to be honest with.

This is just to say:

…and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
“I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely.
I am best so!”
If I admire my arms, my face
my shoulders, flanks, and buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,—
 

who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

-“Danse Russe,” 4-19

So this is just to say,

I wish I could resuscitate language. I wish I could breathe life into these letters like the rhythm of a jellyfish, that I could write up honesty in these fragments, that I could believe I was best lonely. I wish I could have danced fully down that picturesque road last year, the one with Jerusalem in the background, the one with the landscape of lights that told me I was safe. I got off the bus early and told myself I could do it. No one was around. I danced in circles all the way down. But a piece of me was not there; not lost, just not present. Or maybe compressed; or maybe slipping; maybe my hold was just too tight. I wanted to escape myself and embrace myself at the same time, but each spin told me I was trying too hard. Each spin felt like failing. Each spin felt like inescapable self-consciousness within my own soul. Faster. Faster. Faster. I am best so. I am best so. I am best so.

Was this why I couldn’t explain what these words meant to me in our class discussion? Was this why my heart pounded and my cheeks flushed and nothing would suffice?

When I read this poem by Williams my mind danced the pony but my arms are still outstretched, waiting because I believe that there is more. But the lactic acid is building and my strength is draining and I feel too weak to hope for something I’ll never know is coming.

This is just to say
some of my various everythings.

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Comments

  1. EstherGutkovsky says:

    Layah, your writing continues to make me smile and cry, simultaneously.

Trackbacks

  1. […] POETRY MONTH 4/2 – Richard Siken Tells Me We'll Never Get Used To It, by Po, EIC 4/3 – William Carlos Williams: This Is Just To Say, by Layah, CD 4/4 – We Are All Writers On the Same Dreadful Typewriter as Allen Ginsberg, by […]

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SOME THINGS ABOUT US

LANDFILLS is a grassroots literary, arts and culture online collective based in Chicago. All work is original, except the featured images that accompany text posts (which are blatantly stolen from tumblr.com). Complaints should be directed to Po via Twitter.
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