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Gabriel Gudding
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The Footnote's Reconnaissance of the Piedmont

Over there in the trilliums and roofing nails
on that two-bit alpine plain on the opposite page,
the hoplites are off again to a stony war.

From far across this scarp of Palatino fonts
they resemble a Versace brush with dance hall legs:
each spear's an argent bristle.

A couple in-fighters are shouting in the alpine echoes for atlatls.
Hearing this I settle on my hips, drop the binocs,
turn to a boulder and say this once:

"The atlatl wasn't a weapon known to Hellenic grunts;
their author knows the Greek, is just playing the dunce--
as Joyce said to Heaney, or maybe Heaney to us,

'the main thing's to write/ for the joy of it.'"
Sometimes certain days leave heavy in the axles
by a low rut-lit road

shining only in the light of the Xerox:
How tiny is the pathos
in these tiniest of fonts:

how from these binoculared outposts
the x's and o's
are axes and oaks in the wind, the commas and dots

are the blinks and tears of scholars stung
by the flicks of meaning. Yet from again
a chapter back I hear

the crash of sonorous kettles
thawumping on imported linoleum:
that French cook again in a fit of rage.

Even from chapter four footnote seven,
I smell the oyster and celery portmanteau.
I remember the loose company of revision,

our long talks--no shop--and the poker:
the cook's a good joe, just can't hold his liquor,
and is tired of his page.

He sounds now like he's hucking goobers,
great loose ones from the dredging hack and lungfurl
of an expert smoker.

I felt best when we abandoned concision,
when like thoughts were paired with bad jokes;
when the author was looser:

I loved his weird incorporation of quotes.

 

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