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Kathleen Fraser

Perturbed dialogues in Bromige’s ‘Six of One, Half-a-Dozen of the Other’

This piece is 5,000 words or about eleven printed pages long.

‘This is just to say I’ve gained the art & language in which I bring my readers deeper than any consideration of a personality to the awareness of a living man — hence in reading these recent books of mine one may find oneself in a solitude & a ‘Tight Corner,’ I might call it — edge or risk of Being that seems even as it is most mine to be speaking for a depth of one’s own inner being.’

— David Bromige, from the title essay of My Poetry, 1980.
(The Figures. Berkeley)

Who is David Bromige? What is it that makes his poetry both intriguingly inscrutible &/ or deceptively available — often, at the same time — yet always a writing that invites return with certain reward.
      Bromige’s richly prolific and complex writing practice, one suspects, is merely the first layer of a mind continuously observing, absorbing, speculating and inventing conversations and private monologues in what might otherwise prove to be a drearily predictable reality. If he could type faster, if there were more hours, if paper weren’t so expensive, there would be even more of his work in print, for it is ever in-progress. His speculative trust in language to embody the urgent short-circuiting and tipsy high-wiring of his internal life, makes for an entirely unique poetry that keeps revealing and concealing more with each reading, finally withholding some definitive relief or conclusive skid to a final stop. His refusal to satisfy that common need to conform to any number of nameable schools or formulas may explain his absence from The Top Ten list of any literary movement or national aggregate. ‘My poetry,’ he writes, ‘is informed by something inside that doesn’t flinch and won’t budge’ [p. 19].
      Bromige’s essay ‘My Poetry’ is surely his definitive statement of poetics, nonchalantly poised at the beginning of his 1980 collection of the same name and standing brilliantly among the many enigmas he’s pried open for us over thirty plus years of writing. This essay, positioned as the very first entry in the book, is intended to establish a comraderie of search while provoking argument among his peers. It details, in a highly compressed cut & splice account, his vivid and often comic encounter with being a late 20th century poet, at times in-synch but more likely at odds with the varieties of well-suited British, Canadian and American subject positions and dictions available to his dissatisfaction and skepticism as a singular poet embedded in the neighborhood persuasions of the English language. His perpetually raised eyebrow signals a restlessness for:  More oxygen, less overt ‘accomplishment.
      ‘My Poetry’ lays out the dilemma-in-motion that Bromige proposes to investigate in the poem/ prose dialogic sequence immediately following it — ‘Six of one, half a dozen of the other’ — in which early, partially glimpsed situations of both writing and intimate human relation are first caught — perhaps even limited — by the original poem’s formal choices for line-break, cadence, compression. Some years later, re/ viewed from the opposite end of the telescope, Bromige reengages the material of these poems but this time from an intentionally open-ended scrutiny. The sureness of what actually happened earlier — the event/ its impact — is enlarged from a more elaborated, tougher perspective sharpened by the intervening years of certain disintegration; it now shifts to what ma y have happened, a proposition constructed of planes & angles of intersecting episodes and fantasies from which the author must now coax more complicated speculation, if not a resting place.
      Prose fragments tease out and entangle earlier imagined clarities; the original moment is entirely dismantled, pursued and rebuilt from an enhanced disposition of time and discovered escape routes into unrestricted, unmapped eventfulness. It is the tension between these equally ‘real’ fields of perception, and the uneasy accumulation of doing & undoing, that continues to reward and puzzle the reader.
      In ‘My Poetry,’ Bromige claims to be a poet of the mind, not the body, yet in the poem parts of  ‘Six of one, half a dozen of the other’ his ear insists on the primacy of voiced speech which is, after all, physically accountable, even sometimes ‘lyrical,’ in its dynamics of thought — albeit skewed, skewered. At the prosier, receiving end of this work (written some five to seven years after the poems), the reader is pulled forward and led through a terrain of wildly hilarious detours... or left behind with the seemingly simpler view of an earlier time that made less demands on our sensibility. These later responses propose a re-writing & re-thinking of personal history, including reconciliation with the sheer botch of rehearsed moments originally registered but now calibrated into their infinitely more complex possibilities.
      Within his jump-cut dynamic, Bromige’s self-assessment is always present and reinforced by clear recognitions of uncertainty and doubt — flaws, failures, missed signals that banish all pretense of a stable hold on the past, while yet capturing accuracies:  ‘... [my] poems rising in blisters that itch for weeks’ [p. 11]. His view of his reader is equally candid:  ‘The reader grows impatient, irritated with my very distancing style...’ (p. 11)His witness is now entirely made up of peripheral glimpses retained in their partial and fragmentary accuracy — something like a walking tour of his private poetry terrain with all its bumps, pot-holes and forked roads, its urgently expanding spaces not yet wholley accounted for in poetry ‘as we know it’... knew it, then. As he makes clear, his poetry is not meant ‘to be a commodity, not to be consumed, not to be a vacation.’
      While he worries at his tendency ‘to write over-elaborated series of possibilities which become arid and abstract,’ it is this very inclination that allows the reader to travel inside Bromige’s circuitous wit and politically acute comment, passages that instead of settling for the surreal become supra-real, constructivist views of all that he notices about human nature — what he calls ‘the rabbit-hole where descent becomes the subject of the poem’s concern’ [p. 11].
      Every glimpsed bit adds up to accumulating evidence and we are compelled to attend, even at times to co-exist with Bromige’s escape from earlier assigned allotments of language and conclusion — tones and formal givens recieved from his boyhood British education and, later, from the more mongrelized American speech-based challenges collected and authorized by the Donald Allen anthology, The New American Poetry. Bromige embraces and elbows his way through that history, finds like minds and dictions in such Poundian/ lyric modernists as Robert Duncan, Robin Blaser and Robert Creeley and later-generation poets Robert Grenier, Steve Benson and a handful of other foraging younger American, Canadian and British Isle poets — resulting in a playful yet deadly serious conversation in which writing provides the central hub.
      ‘My Poetry,’ addressed to Bob Perelman, posits a past & future Bromige, while illuminating the texts of the 1980 collection. He writes: ‘In my poetry the search shows and so do the seams.... Everywhere there is the tension of an incomplete sentence, an ambiguous antecedent, an unnatural act, an illogical causality.’
       ‘A Defect,’ the first six-line poem of this series, encapsulates Bromige’s tone and also his willingness to leave his reader with an unresolved question:

The doctors doubted any cause for it
since birth or even conception

but he finds a way to suffer it,
Couldn’t it have been something

I did? Long ago, some blow struck
for meaning.

One might read these lines — the ‘call’ side  of the suggested Call & Response dynamic — as a simple observation and its self-reflective question, except that the initiating sentence of its two-page prose ‘response’ instantly alerts one to an uneasiness attached to fact. Where does the doubt come from? The narrating ‘I’ chooses to pose his dilemma in a relaxed kind of diction and begins: ‘ “A defect” takes me back to the time I met Freud. The year was 1939, the day, a Sunday, & my father was taking me for a walk across Hampstead Heath.’
      What might cause one to question this supposed fact, delivered in an apparently straightforword tone? It may well be ‘true,’ but as a devoted Bromige reader I am fully prepared for his fictions. I reach for my biographical dictionary, uncertain of the year of Freud’s death. There it is, 1939. So now I may proceed with faith in the possibility of historic fact. But soon enough, the tale begins its subtle transformation, via Bromige’s humorous whim, telling of his encounter with an old foreign gentleman who offers his handkerchief as a bandage when the author, then a child, stumbles on a gravel path and skins his knee while running as far as possible from his father’s instructive drone of local historic sites — & the requisite literatures marking them — during their father-son walk across Hampstead Heath. Dad perfunctorily thanks the old man, but with a stiff grin.
      ‘Not to worry,’ the alleged Freud responds, facing the father, and then — in a double-edged Bromige aside — ‘patting my head, he added: “Later, he vill remember zis differently.”’
      As  father and son wend their way home, a realistic fable unfolds in which the handkerchief — now bandage — becomes the site of instant prejudicial suspicion of anything ‘foreign,’ in this case, an old guy who talks funny, even though he’s offered help to the child and has asked for nothing in return. Wife/ mother, waiting at home, immediately sees the handkerchief and says ‘This isn’t one of yours, Harold...’ and is told by Dad to throw it away (as if it is contaminated with suspect otherness), loading it with a fearful potential outside the terms of the literal event. In this deceptively simple anecdote, Bromige comments on history, racism, male territoriality. Meanwhile, Mom washes the handkerchief, waits a few weeks, and pops it into Dad Harold’s pocket, seeing it for what it is, a useful bit of cloth. Son/ narrator sums up his father: ‘What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him, my mother always says.’ Something is acknowledged, a family value sleight-of-hand laid bare and fear contained... at least, for the moment.
      Next frame: Son/ narrator jumps ahead to his own adult years when, happening upon a picture of the old guy, he recognizes him ‘right off.’ Having become diabetic, narrator Bromige eventually reads the writings of Freud and begins to wonder if his physical disorder might be psychosomatic, thus returning us to the question of guilt and meaning posed in the original six-line poem.
       The second dialogue, ‘A Final Mission,’ proposes an entirely different model of poem, composed of 134 long and meandering lines employing a dream-like, fairy tale narrative meant to explore issues of power and ownership. Its opening assertion delivers a known rule of power: ‘Whoever stood furthest up the trail was master/ of the trail,’ but it is swiftly compromised by a cunningly relaxed and seductive description of the terrain surrounding the trail, a mix of beautiful and dangerous elements which any potential ‘master’ must acknowledge, contain and finally claim as property in order to maintain this position:

Whoever stood furthest up the trail was master
of the trail, which for the most part climbs
through a beautiful if crowded forest, though the final four or five
hundred yards rise
above the tree-line, across tricky scree, & end
at that peak  which is also the scarp-edge, a steep
& despite the rumors, inaccessible drop
on one side, the shallow slope on the other, where the wood
grows, that is mainly conifers.
To be master
meant, to gather all those things the ownership of which
proves masterhood, a tribute
all other travelers are bound to pay.

[p. 25]

Can one hear anything in these lines but a sarcastic rendering of the world as Bromige finds it? Yes. The amused pleasure of incorporating prose-like speculation, in its casual and un/ compressed investigative languor, into a modern refusal of the high-tension, lyric line. It emplaces a resistance to the ruling order, displaces encroaching literary authority intent on its next shutdown.
      The poem’s narrator here unfolds, with some glee, a satiric quasi-domestic fable chronicling the adventures of two friends who come upon a woman in the woods, ‘naked, broad-hipped & sloping of shoulder,’ who — wouldn’t you know — is beckoning to both of them. Thus the conundrum of possession unfolds its anatomy, furnished with mocking gentlemanly codes of behaviour and rash actions taken to win the naked lady’s charms.
      Cross-cutting this timeless adventure is the narrator’s perception that he may be dreaming, that at any moment he will awaken to the saving smells of pancakes and coffee and the reassurance of sun streaming in the window. The pace picks up and becomes erotically charged, within a continuously shifting scale worthy of a tongue-in-cheek White Rabbit (á la Grace Slick) spliced with Decameron Nights. ‘The ceremonies of the phallus are rehearsed.’
      Turning its other cheek, the talky prose response picks up on a separate but related conversation in which a man named Bromige is advised by a woman named Helen (clerk in a Berkeley bookstore), to read Carl Jung’s Memories, Dreams and Reflections... adding, as she descends the ladder with Jung, that she gets a rash if she wears panties. Thus unfolds a contemporary prose version of his earlier poem fantasy, except that he soon tires of this one and abruptly leaves Helen’s spell to return to his own desk where there is no one to interrupt him and where he begins to write  ‘too fast for breathlines.’ In this manner, he discovers:

‘... the obsolescence of that mode, of its pathetic attachment to the authentic, he wrote lines that were units of meaning which anyone could tell exactly how to read aloud, because he or she would be making their own decisions on that. He wrote the story of the war in Southeast Asia, he wrote the story of War, he wrote the story of the Return of the Repressed, of the Homosexual Element in Jealousy, he wrote the account of the Sexual Objectification of Woman, he wrote Finis to the Philosophy of Godlike Survey.’

Bromige is on a roll... but soon enough he predictably undercuts any conviction  established only moments before, with a final, brief episode meant to suck you in, oh reader. That stratagem might be called:  the allure of that which is not what it is.
      The reader is dazzled by its footwork, its theatrical conviction, and again is swept away in the unraveling threads of a script suggesting we are all, finally, carried along on the great tide of unconscious imprint wherein gender predispositions and animal instincts reign supreme — particularly those male warring fantasies of killing-off the competitor while remaining vulnerable to the ubiquitous lure of Spiderwoman and her web. Not a pretty picture.
      In ‘Weight Less Than the Shadow,’ old man Freud reappears, as does a guiding female ‘you’ — this time not Spiderwoman. They are both benevolent figures offering advice and assurance to our narrator who, with his ‘Davy lamp’ affixed, attempts a journey into the deep tunnel, still not having ‘solved the riddle of the universe’ nor the dilemma of the mine-worker who, in spite of his daily effort on behalf of ‘them,’ will ‘collect nothing from the company store.’
      ‘Ziss far down, ve use/ anuzzer kind of  bickaxe —’ determines the old guy.
      Our narrator is advised, thus:

I’m to buy a ball-point pen & five
blue books at the commissary, this is
becoming ridiculous, a dream, four of them
to wrap my lunchtime apples in, the fifth
turns into a bluebird for my cage.
I’ll ride it out.
You pull your plastic goggles
down, over your eyes, & I
see, just as you turn away, my
      self, indistinctly, reflecting.

‘You’/ she — in dream-like logic — is now merged with ‘the naked lady’; Freud is merged with Jung; Davy lamps are stars & self’s constellation; ‘Cold... is coal’ and the poet is at one with ‘the blonde kiss holding. Gold.’
      But do not look for resolution — other than the translation of ‘coal’ to ‘black gold’. For in spite of the poem’s ‘call,’ we know, by now, to expect the backlog of evidence, in the form of a first-person story from adolescence in which the author actually goes down a mine shaft, as part of a school field trip conceived of by his teacher, Mr. Lawrence, for those boys who ‘chose not to belong to the para-military group which paraded & manoeuvered on that day.’
      Mr. Lawrence, who may or may not be the shade of D.H., is ill-suited as their tour guide for he’d rather be a poet; nevertheless he’s full of comically errant historical facts, as in his list of international tunnel-digging laborers:  ‘Italians, Spaniards, Hittites, Poles, Rumanians, Sumerians & locals.’ Tired of Mr. Lawrence’s lecture on the realities of coal-mining, and attacked by chronic ‘apotropaism,’ the narrator slips into a side tunnel and hunkers down to read one of Dad’s girlie magazines he’s snuck along, instead of candy, in case of a moment alone. After a panicked attempt to rejoin the group, via various untraveled tunnels, he’s finally able to squeeze himself through a body-size passage to their waiting questions. Asked how he found the right way back, he can only say he has no idea. ‘Yes,’ says Mr. Lawrence, ‘and that was how you got lost, too.’ Is this what it is, or more than it is?
      Lawrence later redeems himself by advising young Bromige to avoid the bleak future London appears to hold for him by going to America and becoming a writer, and Bromige does just that. In a flash-forward, he is poised to send off his $36.50 check — paid by Poetry for the ‘Weight Less Than the Shadow’ poem — to Mr. Lawrence, out of gratitude for his push towards authentication; but his practical wife suggests it might be better, it being a cold winter, if they use the check ‘to buy coal & with what was left over, some Acapulco Gold.’ His final turn of the screw is the memory of a grizzled old miner who clutches his wrist as he and his pals are leaving the tunnel and boarding the bus to go home, and sez: ‘Sonny, we’ll be here after you’ve gone.’
      ‘I gave him my harmonica.’ Bromige writes. ‘That man’s son grew up to be Mick Jagger.’ Fact? Fiction? Do we even care? Something about the bizarre folding and unfolding of time, enhanced by Seventies drugs and rock bands of choice, is delivered like a gentle but stunning punch to our disjointed & collective memory.

Lawrence’s Irritations
      He thrives himself
naked to the sungod, knows
those others in their rubbery ways
mere sunbathers, disintegrate in it —
      it’s an old truth known here & there he tells,
becoming Lawrence, among

In a cryptic, self-amused moment of epiphany, Lawrence (of the earlier schoolroom) has claimed not only his literary identity but has merged with ‘mere sunbathers’ and ‘everyone’ — including Bromige — in a hot exchange of cells and intergallactic boundaries. The lineation of the poem scores its intended shifts of meaning with each break and forward motion, inviting a reading of multiple intentions. Its prose rejoinder, wanting the sheer fun of the plunge, dives in happily:

Not to debunk the disjointed nature of existence, but at 11 I won an election as Labor candidate, & at 14 was leading goal-scorer for Cricklewood Rangers — a soccer team. How much of writing knocks life out of the accidental, orders things to make them reasonable!

So begins a hilarious account of himself as soccer star, with blow-by-blow plays in a game strategized ahead of time. ‘...Chance favors the prepared mind,’ he notes to himself, encrypting sly references to Mansfield (Park? or Katharine?) and Shelley (‘Fall on life’s thorns? Bleed?’). Worked into his sportscast, other writerly-minded questions are posed: ‘Is narrative bourgeois fantasy? A mirror, the only true Protestant relict? Did Tristan’s shot pass beneath the non-existent bar?’ His teammates exist on another plane, entirely, and do not understand his account of their game, written up for The Kilburn Times.

      ‘But,’ [he protests], I got your name into print!’ No dice. They admitted it had been a goal, but they maintained the ref’s decision is final. I did not agree with this generality. ‘Humor is humor,’ I said, ‘whether in films or on the stage.’
      ‘We have no time!’ they answered, ‘do what you’re told.’

The episode circles away from reprimand and towards its original up-beat claim of political victory:

The scene was in the center of the road; I left it & sat on the curb. This was, as it happened, off to the left, & when 11, in the mock-election held in sixth grade, I was up against a Liberal, a Conservative, & a Communist candidate. Robin Crusoe was the Communist: he knew more political theory than the rest of the class put together, including Mr. King, our teacher. But I sensed the mood of the nation; later this year a Labor government would displace Winston in a landslide; I polled 25 votes, Crusoe, two. One of those two was mine.

‘Only Fair’ — the poem part of Section 5 — continues with another short-lined and puzzling mode of address, ending with a reading of Time’s pulse:  ‘I open up the banana/ & it’s rotten.’ The poem makes mention of ‘Lennie’ and an argument over ‘some 6 million lire.’ Of these references, Bromige writes in his flip-side, prose response: ‘It’s quite unreal. I never knew anyone called Lennie — or even claiming to be called Lennie; I never dealt in Italian currency; & I never kept my money in a banana — though clearly I suspected I should have. Was I going mad? At last? What was up... yes, what was up? Or down, for that matter. One by one my various codes of  belief peeled away; perhaps the hardest to surrender was the Boy Scout code.’
      The reader is included — & implicated — in Bromige’s boyhood rites of passage. He repeats the ritual laws of being a Scout, but their meanings undergo a swift transforming as his fingers fly along the keyboard. He begins in ordinary Scout mode — ‘I was in the Wolf Patrol’ — but explains that the émigré scoutmaster had codified all the rules ‘until all that stuff about cold showers & the rough male kiss of blankets fell away, leaving an utterly lucid formulation I can recite to this day’ :

A Scout’s thought is not restricted in time or place, a Scout can think of an object by itself, & a Scout possesses a certain combinatorial ability. A Scout needs rules: a Scout desires reciprocity:  A Scout desires the gesture of giving.

It’s 1968, and he writes:  ‘... in one sweat-drenched dream upon another, Who-I-Was-About-To-Become demanded of Who-I-Was that he purge himself of Who-He-Had-Been.’ What follows is a collage of uncommonly witty persuasion, directed at ‘my Significant Other, on whose behalf I would commit perjury, conspiracy, burglary, fraud & so forth...’, intended to convince her that she, as well as he, must of necessity give up half the banana if they are to time-travel together.
‘I Can’t Read, & Here’s a Book’ is worth quoting in its entirety, but the mid-section of this sixth poem provides an attentive phrasal notation for the mental stops and starts in Bromige’s surveillance as he puzzles over his own child’s forming mind and his role or responsibility, as father, in this process. The child, being no longer himself but his son, is the occasion and perspective for this moving reflection — a maverick tonal shift in the sequence:

How can I know
to what degree he is reflective,
what do I want of him. When he is
alone. When
I am alone. Thinking of him. When
I run out of
the particular kind of energy required
of me to be with him. And would sooner be alone
thinking, of him. However it hurts. Or soothes
what hurts. What displacing
makes him the book, while I am him?
How it feels, to be left out, closed out
of what all those others seem so vitally
to share.

Questions, in this poem, are delicate and Creeleyesque in their intimate structuring of concern. Perhaps it is the unavoidable crisis of responsibility that has allowed a glimpse into this normally reserved layer of the poet’s emotionally-charged thought process.
      In any case, his prose response bounds back with an aggressively comic riff on his brief brush with philosophy in the university, a time during which he rejects the academic discipline of Questions — despite the fact that his own written work has often been characterized as ‘philosophic’ — and unravels a yarn about a Kant exam in which his ability to argue a position is severely tested:  Given one life-preserver and two drowning swimmers, to whom would he throw it — his mother (adept, in his memory, at swimming the length of Brighton Beach) or Pandit Nehru (possibly a stand-in for his father, who couldn’t swim even a length of the municipal pool)?
      The story unspools as an increasingly anxious but irrelevant list of questions:  

‘Is that why my mother had gone swimming with Pandit Nehru? Or was ‘Pandit Nehru’ actually my father, & wasn’t that why he was drowning? ... Did you put your arms through it [the life-preserver], or leave them outside? ... Was the water warm or freezing?’

These are interleaved with such speculations as:

‘My father would certainly want to be saved. However, it was possible Nehru didn’t care to be — possibly he believed he’d been some kind of bug in a previous existence, a water-boatman say, & was now prepared to expiate his previous arrogance. How to be sure?.... My mother’s huge shoulders swam on. My father’s presence, I realized, had never been other than hypothetical — I could hear his laugh above the melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, emanating from the hotel where he was trying out his German on a salesman of life-preservers. When I got to the life-preserver, it was rusted to the stanchions on which it was hung.’

A thread of loss and disconnection reveals its true color, in the midst of all this zany hi-jinx, and is woven backwards to the real-time dilemma of Bromige, the father figure of the sixth poem, worrying over lack of connection with his son... understanding, perhaps, a like reticence in himself to that of his own father.
      But the prose does not linger there, instead following him through the unfilled pages of his actual Blue Book (prefigured in poem three’s dream). Here he notes his pique at the revelation that his classmate Omega Anderson has duped him by feeding him the same dexamil she herself has sworn to swallow, too, as an exam assist. Meanwhile, he has observed Omega filling at least three Blue Books with continuous writing. Spiderwoman strikes again.
      The high-spirited romp that follows is Bromige at his brilliantly inventive best. Somewhere in the haze of an after-exam party, he learns that Omega turned in four Blue Books with only her name scrawled across each page. This is cause for more abandoned drinking and he finds himself — having lost several beats — sitting in an unfamiliar apartment with Norwegian wood paneling everywhere and Omega’s voice spouting Kantian wisdom: ‘Thus every empirical element is not only quite incapable of being an aid to the principle of morality... but is even highly prejudicial to the purity of morals.’ In the tertiary stage of dexamil, he finds himself misplaced:

Omega, I broke in. The exam ended yesterday, this is tomorrow, what shall I say when I get home? Should you be content that your maxim, to extricate yourself from difficulty with a false promise, David, should hold good as a universal law? She’s not expecting anybody but me — or so she’s given me to understand. I’m afraid you’re a man of very narrow understanding, she yawned. You’d better invent something.

And so he does so. In these ingenious poker-faced comedic dialogues, Bromige proposes to stage a long-distance exchange between six earlier poems that appear, on first reading, to be ‘dashed-off’... and six wildly fulsome and gnarly prose reconsiderations of time-related material. In fact, there are seven of each, a characteristic misstep and comment, on final arrangements. You will find the seventh poem of the series — & its prose companion — positioned as the final entry to this work... and well worth hunting down in libraries and second-hand or rare bookstores. Alas, My Poetry has too long been out-of-print.
      Bromige’s humor is quintessentially English, with that particular gift of satire that seems to have invaded the British Isles language acquisition gene pool. But having chosen to live and teach in the United States (after an interim period in Vancouver, BC), he brings an ever sharpened perspective to a culture that gives him ample reason for dismay bordering on despair. His stance, vis-à-vis his invented life, is that of the slightly distanced observer, the seemingly perplexed voice of the neutral investigator masking his barely hidden passions, insistantly quizzical and genuinely hapless before the cards dealt him — his place inside and outside of English-language time. He is impelled, in the prose investigations of this sequence, to question his and others’ motives, giving no clean slate to what once appeared to be simpler claims of fact. That eyebrow is always raised in its own punctuation.
      Released from the trance of writing a poem — be it six, eight or one hundred & thirty-four lines — into the act of opening the window of prose, Bromige’s attention is compellingly riveted on what he sees:  that everything outside the window is changing, burning. ‘The flames quickly become visible.’

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