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Kent Johnson

I Remember Once, Years Ago

I remember once, years ago, before the War that is with us, just after I
had joined the Poetics List, George Bowering sent in a post that said
[I think I remember it rightly], “I am sitting here. The women have just
gone out for juice and cigarettes.” Lots of things happened on the
Poetics List after that, but for some reason I always remembered that
post. I also remember that George and David Bromige used to joke
back and forth a lot, you could tell they were old Vancouver pals, and
sometimes Rachel Loden and another woman, whose name on the list
was number thirty, I think, I can’t recall, used to chime in, and it was
all pretty clever and erotic, actually, for they would often say things
that seemed quite inappropriate for a public space like Poetics, but you
could tell everyone really liked it and wanted more. I often thought to
myself then: “I wonder what George Bowering looks like?” And whenever
I thought of him, I imagined him sitting there, debonair, smoking a cigarette
that one of his women had brought back from the store, typing things
about his lust for Rachel Loden, whom I interviewed once and who
is a terrific poet and who would always naughtily answer George
or David and give them a run for their money. Years later, I was sitting
with David Bromige in Samuel Pepys’ rooms at Cambridge, where he
was the guest of honor at a conference of contemporary poetry, and I
looked at David sitting there, very calm, by the leaded glass window
that was open onto the river that flowed under the rooms [he had just
given the most magnificent reading], and I thought to myself, “You
know, I really like this man, I really do, even though we fought a lot
on the Poetics list.” And I thought about all the jokes he and George Bowering
would make, sometimes at my expense, and how mad that would make me,
o madder than a two-peckered goat, or how they would chatter away
sometimes about how much they were in love with each other, or the jokes
about lingerie or friendly bondage they would make with Rachel and the
woman who was number thirty and how everyone on the list laughed at
that, though secretly all the avant-garde poets were very aroused, and I
thought to myself, “Why, wasn’t all that other stuff just rather silly — wasn’t
the champion part about it all the good sexy banter, or when George
Bowering used to suddenly get excited, for you could tell that he was
excited, and rhapsodize at the slightest provocation about baseball, all
he needed was the slimmest excuse and sometimes none? I wonder if he
is still like that, you never see him posting much anymore, maybe he gets
free cigarettes as the Poet Governor, or whatever they call the big thing
up there, maybe he doesn’t have to imagine sex over email anymore, maybe
he gets that free now, too, and for real, Canada being very liberal and all,
like California. I hope the War ends soon. I hope George Bowering is happy...”
And David Bromige’s head was turned now, so that with the light, his face
seemed set in relief into the leaded glass, and he said, “Is it just me, or is it
a little hot in here?”


Kent Johnson’s author notes page gives more recent information about his work.

Jacket’s ‘author notes’ provide direct links to various pages in the magazine that feature more of an author’s work, reviews of their books, and interviews.

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