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Angel Hair feature

Anne Waldman:

The De Carlo Lots


Cover of Angel Hair anthology

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           1

You are parceled out over the post office
Letters arrive from Jonathan, Sasha
A season in Millville New Jersey

The voice is feedback and not insensitive
to moths as light           dispersed in spots
through this room. When I see the particles
who rations these waves for me?

Only that you might sit here unafraid
listening to the termites eat out the walls
and wonder how they do it      the stamina,
I mean the breeding

It was about the family he confided
The effect this might have on them
could not be ignored, even as they slept

And when letters would arrive the next morning
after the bicycle, who was to say
where was her heart in all of this?

           2

Mailbags under the porch
A calm across the lake

The family hurts me as I lounge about
these pine walls trying to read
A scratching in the wood prevents sobriety, or else
the knowledge of it ending with the itching never
subsided

The letters are damp with use
My fingers are moist
Inkstains cover the tablecloth
that now resembles ‘black’

A song that will always have the same hold
on you is painful for me, you see because
I never even knew it and have nothing to
counter your passion,           the energy
with which you embrace the other girl’s radio

           3

She is no longer of use to them
when they forsake the lake for the ocean

In fact, she’s almost a hindrance, the
way she likes to ‘cut-up’ everything,
keeps using up paper      writes letters
and they don’t let her go anyway
All the way

You’re swimming nude in the ocean
It’s 2 A. M. Some policemen will come
and ask you to go                gently
when they see how young you are

You will mount the stairs to the attic
of the house where you’re staying
the ‘house of Lynn’s aunt who is away’,
and you will be surprised to see her
there between two beds,                two boys
They are putting on their clothes when
she says no,                don’t go

Dear Jon,      This is Atlantic City
I am thirteen years old      This is the
birthday of the song they’re playing
when they interrupt us eight years later

           4

We are saying goodbye to the inanimate objects
They are mostly of wood
Light seeps through these cracks,
as squirrels in winter
when the lady comes cleaning up
misses them under the bedsheets

I am trying to imagine the light in winter, not
being told as squirrels, termites
I am learning how they live from books
We are writing ‘Ten Facts’ in the city

Light defines these cracks which are of wood
as you are ‘my only shape and substance’
or the voice is dispersed in outlines
of spots through the room

A beam crashes the dials
I am thinking now of all the little animals

           5

The family is livening up the house
with the radio       but she is not there
and is only told later
the pine was ‘rocking’

You are perhaps on a boat watching
the children watching the sunset from the pier
or else fishing by the sand-bar, adoring the heron
The boat is rocking

She is rationing out her love, as waves
are sectioned out over the lake
disappearing into the land,
sending the energy home

She remembers the couple going over the dam
in the canoe. Strangers from Vineland New Jersey
A song attached to them immediately

There are foreign waters foreign objects float upon
They are large splinters of wood and resemble
the pieces of letters
I can’t seem to get off to you, off the shore

           6

The bicycle trip is arduous and not unlike
the energy it takes descending these steps daily
seeing if the mail has come at 9:30 A.M.

The energy is parceled out into the day
His legs are weak from making love

The forces it takes licking the envelope in
Athens come at me as the sounds shaking
the foundations of the house they’re tearing apart

It is of pine
Only the land is not yours       the rest you may carry away,
while a telephone number tells you all the particles

Sasha’s letter is brief
He tells me he is happier in the water than
any other place and hopes to live there forever

A couple crashes over the dam a splinter away

           7

We are dwelling on the surface of
something explosive, though not unlikely
subdued
as the cracks are blocked up with tissue
Light or fire. It’s all the same to me

Where were they going from the post office
when she asked, are you driving back?

From Atlantic City where the music is live
and we turn on the radio      trying to capture
those lost waves

A naked girl is swimming in her view
I’ve come here year after year
The family hurts me as I try to swim,
abandoning these walls of pine and
what they represent in terms of ‘destructibility’

All my friends are entering the lake for the last time
as the energy leaves my birthplace and returns
to the city in September
We study leaves, the life-span of termites

A great blast splinters the shelf that
holds the radio           when the voice
reaches me a second away and embraces
the girl fishing from the rowboat

The sun is setting across the shore
This is about the family who lived there

I write to Jonathan and Sasha about the fireworks,
as the last song is rationed into the night

           8

The dials are lots and are as inanimate
as the ground we walk on
That is to say, not without life or
waverings in the soil

He was as young as the girls who surrounded
him and they used to watch him mounting the
attic steps, going,      as he said,      to pray

Outside, a calm across the lake
A peace after the accident
A break in the day where ‘demolition’
ruled their lives,
gradually governed their words      their sleep
as she worried about the effect
this might have on all of them

She would never let the others touch him
or played the radio when he came
He told her she had cut herself up in little pieces
equally rationed among them and might easily
go away and never return,
only referring to the songs to counter
the energy of the other girl’s swimming or
recall the light seeping through the cracks

He said ‘I am thirteen years old’
That was eight years ago, when the dials
spilled all over the page

           9

You are allotted a childhood as wood
splinters right under your thumbs

It’s as quickly as that, seeing the
children put on their clothes again
asking you not to turn away, but
to look back upon the waves again,
to even touch their burning limbs

Letters will record this season even
if the radio doesn’t

And the wood eats the dials right
out of the pine

I mean the stamina with which this
whole life-span is devoured

The family forgets
The girl rises from the water and
comes towards us on the shore

I am picking up the pieces to send to you,
measuring the lots, the dreams by.

from Angel Hair 2, Fall 1966


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