back toJacket2

This piece is about 12 printed pages long.
It is copyright © H. K. Rainey and Jacket magazine 2009. See our [»»] Copyright notice.
The Internet address of this page is

H. K. Rainey

Along Comes Something

Mapping Motion in Selections from Lyn Hejinian’s «Happily»

Section 1

Along comes something — launched in context. (Happily, 5)


In discussing her own work critically, Hejinian uses mathematical language to verbally graph and dissect movement and the possibilities of movement her poetry contains (in saying that the work “contains,” one essentially limits the work in ways in which the author would not condone; however, for the sake of clarity, in this essay, “contain” is meant in the sense of the two-dimensional boundaries of the page). One such example can be found in her well-known essay, “The Rejection of Closure,” in which she explains her desire.


to achieve maximum vertical intensity (the single moment into which the Idea rushes) and maximum horizontal extensivity (Ideas cross the landscape and become the horizon and the weather) (34)


and later, her belief that


The progress of a line or sentence, or a series of lines or sentences, has spatial properties as well as temporal properties. The meaning of a word in its place derives both from the word’s lateral reach, its contacts with its neighbors in a statement, and from its reach through and out of the text into the outer world, the matrix of its contemporary and historical reference (39).


Both excerpts suggest that an explanation of movement in the work is possible using the x and y axes of a mathematically-based graph. In addition to a further explanation of the x and y axis, her description of the opening lines of her poem “Resistance” explains how motion serves to inject commonality into two different images. In “Resistance”:


Two dozen jets take off into the
night. Outdoors a car goes uphill in a genial low gear.
The flow of thoughts—impossible! These are the de-
familiarization techniques with which we are so familiar.


Hejinian’s explanation of her intent follows:


Two dozen jets can only take off together in formation; they are “laid out” in the night sky. A car goes uphill; its movement upward parallels that of the jets, but whereas their formation is martial, the single car is somewhat domestic, genial and innocuous.. The image in the first pair of sentences is horizontal. The upward movement of the next two sentences describes a vertical plane, upended on or intersecting the horizontal one. The “flow of thoughts” runs down the vertical and comes to rest—“impossible!” (“The Rejection of Closure”, 35).


If the intent here is to map motion in mathematical terms, the same parameters can be applied to Happily, which also has to do with temporal relations, an investigation of context, and the inter-relatedness of seemingly incongruous images. I have chosen to graph the following four lines from Happily apropos of Hejinian’s description of the “horizontal and vertical landscapes” present in The Green:


I was going to speak of doom eager to resume consecutive
events plowing through the space surrounding them to
something now, no ellipsis, just mouth open in astonish-
ment or closed to suck quid and quod, that and what
(Happily, 21)


In addition to Hejinian’s elucidation of motion in her work, I have also expanded the idea by including a mapping of the movement inherent in the sound of language, the composition of the various elements of the selected text and the artistic properties of the chosen images. (See Fig. 1).The graph is comprised of several elements: the background, or “space surrounding” into which the words and “consecutive events” launch themselves; the x and y axes representing forward, backward, upward and downward movement; the origin, a point of stasis or “something now”; and the parabola representing the “consecutive events” or “Ideas” themselves. I will also address the idea of ellipsis in conjunction with Hejinian’s explanation of “gaps” and “parallax.”

Figure 1: Graphing Movement of selected text

Figure 1: Graphing Movement of selected text


Space Surrounding: Un-Mappable Context


In the selected lines, Hejinian uses the words space surrounding to draw our attention, not to the ideas, the “consecutive events plowing through”, but to the space surrounding the idea, a temporal reality or a context into which the ideas are launched. Hejinian’s fascination with context and meaning in this sense makes it impossible to begin any discussion of motion within the text without first attempting to come to terms with the space into which her words and ideas will be launched. The x and y axes must cross and interact with this space, therefore, the space must be defined in order to provide any framework for a study of motion within the text. But what is this space?


Her statement, “Along comes something, launched in context,” toward the beginning of Happily brings to the forefront the possibility that the space surrounding labeled in the graph could be used to refer to context.


The American Heritage College dictionary describes “context” as “the circumstances in which an event occurs; a setting.” Thus, traditionally context is defined as the space into which an event or an idea passes. As a setting in a theatrical presentation (something placed upon the stage as a backdrop for which the impending action will take place) this definition of context seems at first glance to fit with Hejinian’s vision. But, the definition becomes over-simplified and problematic when one considers that Hejinian’s focus is not the objects that make up the setting, but the stage on which those objects are set.


Indeed, Hejinian seems to dedicate much of Happily to a study of context, though her explanations of context can be difficult to grasp and even more difficult to define. Consider the following statement:


What I feel is taking place, a large context, long yielding, and
to doubt it would be a crime against it
I sense that in stating ‘this is happening’
Waiting for us?
It has existence in fact without that (3)


Here, “a large context, long yielding” seems to indicate a kind of space that exists apart from the feeling that is “taking place,” a sort of plane or canvas on which the consecutive events (here, feelings) are playing out their happening. The sentence is set apart by commas, effectively isolating it from the first clause. The context itself could be the thing that is taking place, indicating that context is not exactly the space in which an event happens, but a series or mixture of circumstances in which an event is played out. The “space surrounding” therefore, is populated, not only by the event, but by the context or circumstances of that event, both existing in the same temporal moment. It is both the setting and the stage upon which the setting is set.


This becomes evident when one reads Hejinian’s description of context as an object against which “the flow of humanity divides and on the/ other side unites” (5). If context is indeed an obstacle that humanity may flow around, it seems more of a static object itself than an empty space or temporal reality in which things are permitted to happen.


“Along comes something—launched in context,” says Hejinian in Happily, indicating that context itself is the space into which the words and ideas of the poem are launched. This seems contradictory to the previous idea that context is itself a physical object. To determine whether context is indeed meant as the space surrounding in the Fig. 1 graph, we must consider the words “launched in context.”


During the investigation, the word “in” becomes troublesome. While discussing again the syntactical devices of “Resistance,” Hejinian explains her choices of the words on, into and in:


On is locational: “on my papers.” Into is metaphorical and atmospheric: “into the night.” In is atmospheric and qualitative “in a genial low-gear.” There are a pair of inversions in effect here: the unlike are made similar (syntactically) and the like are sundered (by semantics).


If these words were made by choice in Resistance, it serves to reason that the same principle is in effect for Happily; thus, there is a reason the poet did not choose “launched into context.” In the case of into versus in, both words have similarities, according to the poet. They are both atmospheric, a broad category indicating a kind of ethereal, astronomical space: the same space that might explain the “space surrounding” in the selected text. But in also suggests something that into does not. Into is metaphorical, based in ideas and perceptions, while in is qualitative. The word “into” would have suggested that context was static and unchanging. It seems to be precisely for this reason that the poet did not select it. If in is concerned with qualities, then Hejinian’s choice of this word suggests rather that there are conditions governing the dissemination of the idea as well as the space into which the idea arrives.


“Context” is thus both transitive and intransitive, serving simultaneously as the launching pad and the condition into which the idea is launched. “Context” then, could be identical to the “space surrounding” while imparting the idea that the “space surrounding” is not a static space, but a space that interacts with the “consecutive events” arriving there.


Using the word “in” to describe context thus becomes problematic in another way. Context, in this sense, would appear to be something that is happening simultaneously along with the events, not merely something into which the ideas arrive. For example, when I step out of my house in the morning, I am facing the same street. Some of the same basic structures appear: the house across the street with paint peeling, the chain link fence surrounding the lawn, the highway overpass. However, if it is morning when I step out now, the sun hits everything differently. The house across the street is not lighted the same way as it was in the evening when I left it. Furthermore, if it is a rainy morning, or a foggy morning, the structures in my view will appear in different light or in a different state of wetness, obscurity or heat. In addition, there are changes intrinsic to these objects. Paint is peeling. Time is interacting with the object, breaking it down, altering its qualities.


I, too, am changed. Perhaps I had a bad dream or an argument that is coloring my view of the scene. Perhaps I am taller, or wider. I am different entering a different scene though that scene is essentially the same. Something inside the house has also changed. Perhaps the sofa was moved, or the cat. Either way, something is different. This is what is meant by atmospheric and qualitative, the same meaning that the word in imparts to context. “Context” is not, then, merely the thing being interacted with, a static force that is unchanging. It is also interacting with the space into which it has arrived. Yet context both is and is not the “space surrounding.” It is one of the things that make up this space. It is an uncontrollable, unmappable, unpredictable energy.


Another possibility for explaining the space surrounding the consecutive events is the concept of “reality.” That is, reality exists both with and without our input. There are solid objects of the realistic world such as a house, tree or car. There are also our attitudes about that object which form in themselves their own reality. If what I am seeing is, in “reality,” a car, but my education, circumstances and experience have taught me that it is a bicycle, there are two separate realities at play. My perceived reality and the reality that exists without my input and interaction. Context and Reality operate on the same concepts and, therefore, could both be considered space into which ideas are “launched.” Hejinian describes reality in the following terms:


Reality precedes us. It was here before we were and it will be here after we are gone. Although reality, by and large, doesn’t reciprocate our interest in it, our interest in it is very great—it being, after all, all that we have. Of course. What reality includes is all that there is. Can we say, then, that reality exhibits closure? that reality is self-contained? Like any biologist, we have to answer in the affirmative: “No.”




Reality is that which is, or can be, shared with other human beings, and it is to be found in the spaces of appearance, places where things happen, where things do their thinging.


If reality is a space where “things do their thinging” it serves to reason that ideas or consecutive events are plowing through on their way to something now.


Since reality is not self-contained, it is, in fact, like the universe itself: infinite, inconstant, continual, chaotic. It is an indefinable space in which a myriad of things happen for varying reasons, as a result of varying factors, producing varied results. The concept of reality also insinuates the presence of real time. Time is perceived as a continuum rushing from the past into the future. Time is measured in points along an x axis, in our way of thinking. Reality is defined in part by time, but it is not time itself. Rather, an interaction happens between time and context that seems to produce the idea we know as reality.


In “The Rejection of Closure,” Hejinian explained that an Idea rushes into a “single moment”, a statement that indicates that the moment, a temporal reality, is at least somewhat static, a context that existed prior to its being occupied by an Idea. This is in direct agreement with her statement that, “Reality precedes us. It was here before we were and it will be here after we are gone.” Still, the space surrounding cannot be directly defined by any one of these concepts. Space surrounding bleeds into context which shape shifts into reality which is partially defined and understood in terms of time. This could set the stage for a devolution into chaos.


Hejinian has something to say about chaos as a defining factor of the space surrounding of our selected text. In describing chaos, Hejinian claims in “Continuing Against Closure”, that a world in which chaos rules


remains closed to us. Chaos, the state of undifferentiated everything, is a state of sameness. It is eventless. It’s swirling doesn’t happen. It is only by virtue of differences, that anything can occur at all.


If the space surrounding were to be viewed as something static and unchanging, then, by definition, this static and unchanging space is also related to chaos. It is a void of Biblical proportions. The space itself is structurally significant and also invisible. Chaos allows for a multitude of paradoxes to survive in an undefined state of suspension. Yet, still problematic is the idea that once something has occurred in this chaotic space, it is no longer eventless. Rather, it has changed into a place into which something has occurred. The fact that chaos is mutable subverts the notion that it is static, and yet, the nature of chaos itself allows these paradoxes to coexist simultaneously.


Space surrounding, then, is a myriad of different realities, contexts and circumstances in which events occur. The human being’s relationship to this space is tenuous at best. We are creatures that long for constancy in a world in which change is the only constant. We are creatures who operate inside a paradox and yet, cannot explain our existence there. Like Hejinian, all our “observations are made from within the matrix of possibly infinite contingencies and contextualities.”

Axes and Origins: Mapping Motion


Having established a context for the space into which ideas can now be launched, consider again the excerpt previously graphed in Figure 1:


I was going to speak of doom eager to resume consecutive
events plowing through the space surrounding them to
something now, no ellipsis, just mouth open in astonish-
ment or closed to suck quid and quod, that and what
(Happily, 21)


Hejinian has already shown, in her self-analysis of her poem “Resistance” that she selects words and phrases suggesting motion. The discerning reader is thus likely to find in Hejinian’s poems contrasts of forward and backward progress as well as upward and downward movement as the words slide along the x and the y axes. In the Fig. 1 graph, the x axis represents the horizontal motions of moving forward and backward along the continuum; while the y axis represents the upward and downward movement of the selected text.


From the beginning of the selected text, the forward momentum of Hejinian’s word choice is obvious. In writing, “I was going to speak of doom,” Hejinian roots the sentence in the past, but the following word going has already begun to propel us into the future. As a part of speech, the auxiliary verb “going” attached to the linking verb “was” expresses a possibility of going, though the poet, by using the verb was has seemingly rejected the possibility of such going. The two words are directly oppositional to each other, resulting in a point of stasis, an implied inertia. It is this inertia that gives the word eager more forward pull than it would have had originally. In considering the word eager, it is necessary to point out the sudden upwelling of excitement that it possesses. The very sound of the long e and the accented first syllable permit the reader to imagine something that one looks forward to.


The nature of its symbolic meaning, its connotation of excitement has the effect of lifting us along the y axis while thrusting us along through time, allowing us to imagine a time when our eagerness will be fulfilled. It is no accident that the very sound of the e and the appearance of the ea in eager distinctly mirror those in the phrase to speak. The internal visual and audible rhyme in these words lend a sense of the present to each other.


For example, as an infinitive, to speak becomes a substantive, an indicator of time, something consistently in the present, thus, the poet’s next choice of words moves us incrementally along the axis while also suggesting something immediate. Similarly, eager continues that motion, forcing us to consider something future, something that has not yet happened. Further, along with infinitives, Hejinian has also chosen the present participles plowing and surrounding to uphold the forward momentum established by going and reiterated by to speak and eager in the first line of the selected text. These substantives propel the ideas plowing along the horizontal axis.


The word consecutive forces the reader to consider items that both follow and come before itself, thus the eye travels back and forth along the horizontal axis, linking both the preceding and the following words to each other. In perfect harmony with the previous text, the word choice of plowing through suggests not only direction, but a penetrating of the space surrounding the ideas, a movement from time to time along the axis and through established contexts. This further blends the motion of forward and backward into the already established possibilities included in the space surrounding these consecutive events.


When considering forward momentum, one must also take into account that while certain words may possess connotations of forward motion inherently, they may also intuit a backward motion simultaneously. Such is the case with the word resume. To resume indicates that at some point, a process has stopped occurring, suggesting an action having happened in the past whose momentum at one point was interrupted. In addition, resume has an onomatopoetic nature. The first syllable of the word begins on the downbeat, the unaccented “re” sound, suggesting a momentary halt to an action while the second syllable of the word produces an upbeat effect with its long u sound, not unlike the roaring of an idling vehicle’s motor. In Hejinian’s poetry, this produces an effect of acceleration along the x axis. By contrast, to resume draws attention, not only to acceleration, but also the moment of inertia preceding the resumption.


The effect is a kind of stuttering: a momentary halt that makes the moment of acceleration seem more potent. The word resume also possesses upward motion that travels along the y axis. The swell of sound inherent in the final syllable of the word rises as it accelerates. In the same way, the first syllable of resume resides in the lower portion of the graph’s parabola, but its presence there is not sustained. Neither has Hejinian neglected downward motion. Her selection of the word doom plummets the reader to the bottom of the y axis with as much force as resume lifts her up. The meaning of the word doom along with the double o sound rattles the senses to the lowest point, a conjecture of worst-case scenarios. Since the worst scenario the human can encounter is death, the word implies this meaning.


The x and y axes intersect at the origin, or what I have termed the point of stasis. In the graph, the origin has several implications. Not only does it represent the fulcrum around which the events are occurring (the unmoving point, such as the eye of a hurricane or the center of a merry-go-round), it also serves to visually indicate the now, this moment and this, the immediate present, which is the only reality we actually possess from point to point. The previous moment has faded into memory and the following moment is not promised to us. Visually, the origin is represented by the white circle in the center of the graph. Several words have been placed there. Most prominently is the word, “I.” But what is this I? And why is it represented here, at the origin?


Hejinian has the following to say about the self:


In English the self is defined as something “having a single character or quality throughout,” and “the union of elements (as body, emotions, thoughts, and sensations) that constitute the individuality and identity of a person” and also as “personal interest or advantage” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)—thus it’s a concept which is suggested by the Russian concepts of both sushchnost’ (individuality, essence) and lichnost’ (personality), but with the further characteristic of being knowable only to itself.


Additionally, her view of her own I includes an existence in a particular time and place:


Certainly I have an experience of being in position, at a time and place, and of being conscious of this, but this position is temporary, and beyond that, I have no experience of being except in position.


Since the only time and place we know consistently is that of our now (a place not yet soiled by the loss of memory nor affected by a certain knowledge of future events), it is reasonable to deduce that the I exists at the origin, the place of the present. In the selected text, I is the beginning or origin of the following thoughts and ideas. Thus, we begin at the beginning, travel backward and forward over the course of consecutive events and arrive precisely where we started. Interestingly, now is not only the point of origin, of beginning, it is also the place to which we strive. We are headed moment by moment into a future now, a place affected by the decisions we make in our current now. In some peripheral way, the now of the future interacts with the present in the same way that context, circumstance, reality and time interact.


Toward the end of the graphed text, Hejinian presents us with related images of an open and closed mouth. Here, the image of the lips opened in astonishment, the visual O presented, is reminiscent of the origin. Also, as the beginning of heard speech, the origin is a fitting place for a representation this image. The mouth open is also, by virtue of its position in the text, related to something now. It appears that rather than the poet speaking of doom as she was preparing to do in the now, she is only standing with her mouth open, unable to speak. The silence emanating from the space of the open mouth thus indicates a kind of stasis, an inability to make the decision to speak, an inability to move forward. Following this open-mouthed astonishment, an image of the mouth snapping shut to suck quid and quod emerges.


The idea of closed also implies a lack of movement. This time, one has made the explicit decision not to act. Since no action is happening, there is no forward or backward movement to graph. Therefore, the origin is the only place in which a lack of action can be appropriately represented. Closed possesses another indication of stasis: it is precisely at the moment the now arrives that it closes itself to us, unable to be altered or acted upon. No sooner has the second of the now come upon us than it closes again. Our lives are thus a repeated pattern of openings and closures. In response to any of our interactions with the now, the future course of events is set in motion from that point of origin and the past is cemented and unchangeable in actuality, though we may define and redefine it in accordance with our own reality.

Parabola: Consecutive Events


In the Figure 1 graph, a parabola has been added to reflect the arc of what Hejinian terms consecutive events in the selected text. These events are words inside the text that denote an interaction with the space surrounding them, an upward and downward movement along a current of the text. Consider, for example, the word doom. Its location on the graph indicates downward movement; however, the implications of the word suggest something that has not yet happened. Thus, it is an emotion that is reaching into the future, a future in which doom seems to be both the feeling of dread preceding the occurrence of the event and the actual outcome of the event itself. At the same time it suggests a sinking feeling and a lowered sound content, it also suggests forward movement.


Similarly, the word suck with its prominent u vowel and the harshness of its ck sound intimates a pulling backward, perhaps sudden, and a dropping that relocates us into the past. It also suggests that what will be left is a void, or a gap.


Primarily, there seem to be six events happening in the selected text. These are mouth open, (mouth) closed, sucking quid, (sucking) quod, that, and what. These are the only ideas that seem to “get off the ground.” The I of the poem presumably intends to speak, but cannot speak, therefore, the only action is the opening of the mouth that can therefore speak nothing.


Secondly, a deliberate action to resist speaking occurs when the mouth is closed. Instead of speaking, the mouth decides to suck quid and quod and presumably that and what, though the presumption that the two statements follow each other may not be accurate. Still, as the poem does allow for some, but not total, freedom of interpretation, based on frequently used grammatical rules, this clause could conceivably be linked to the one before.


There are other ways in which the two could be self-referential. The Latin roots quid and quod could be taken to mean “that” and “what” respectively. Thus, the interpretation of these words into English could be a redundancy explaining that the I was possibly standing, mouth closed, “sucking on” or thinking about the nature of things. Consider the word quiddity, in relation to the above statement. The dictionary describes quiddity as “The real nature of a thing; the essence” and, “A hairsplitting distinction; a quibble.” More poetically, in “Continuing Against Closure,” Hejinian defines quiddity as “thinginess or thingitude” that “consists of the detailed differences that make one thing what it is and not what another thing is.” Thus, a primary characteristic of a thing is its difference from other things.


Furthermore, consider the following elaboration of “thingitude”:


That something is something that has come to be, it has occurred. Improvisation begins at the moment when something has just happened, which is to say, it doesn’t begin at the beginning. Nonetheless, it is always involved with the process of beginning—that is, of setting things in motion.


Here, a “thing” is described as an occurrence. Synonymously, a “thing” could also be described as an event. This agreement is further reiterated in the beginning of the graphed text in which Hejinian refers to consecutive events. Here, we see her word selection coming full circle. By virtue of the fact that a thing is also an event, it cannot be chaotic since an event is a difference and chaos is a sameness. Hejinian’s description of chaos in “Continuing Against Closure” states:


Chaos, the state of undifferentiated everything, is a state of sameness. It is eventless. It’s swirling doesn’t happen. It is only by virtue of differences, that anything can occur at all.


From this statement and Hejinian’s previous explanation of quiddity, we see that a thing possesses difference, a singular set of qualities, like DNA that establish its separateness from any other thing. As with DNA, there are an infinite number of permutations available to provide to things their difference from one another. We see now why the I of the selected text could only stand with a mouth open in astonishment. Put another way,


Logic inserts itself everywhere and narrative follows as fast as it can though often it can’t keep up with events since they advance in leaps that leave logicians behind.


Therefore, what is astonishing about things, their innumerable differences notwithstanding, is that they are currently happening to and around us, while at the same time imparting to us a sense of awe that renders us motionless and unable to act. We stand, mouth open, in the space where “things do their thinging.”

Ellipsis: Graphing the Gaps


I found it impossible to graph the places in which information is unavailable, what Hejinian calls “the gaps” in her essay, “The Rejection of Closure.” The information that resides in these gaps remains “crucial and informative” though elusive to the reader. In thinking of these gaps and their meaning, the image of wormholes continued to appear. The wormhole is hypothetical and allows for a variety of possibilities when adapted to the relationship between the author, reader and the text. The author cannot control the reader’s response to the work.


Language poetry set out with the theory of baring this concept to scrutiny by removing as much authorial intention as possible and allowing the reader to put the pieces back together in a sort of “Can’t beat ‘em? Join ‘em!” philosophy. The aesthetics of Language poetry exploited the idea of gaps and ellipsis. Interestingly, if one takes Hejinian’s words to heart in the selected text, the I of the piece is not experiencing ellipsis. The fact, however, that the “sentence” the poet has written is not a complete thought (as is determined by the lack of closing punctuation and a specific verb/object combination) what conclusion is the reader to come to but that there are pieces missing from the text? It is precisely the knowledge that the reader desires to conclude that keeps Hejinian from speaking in completely coherent and declarative statements.


Her own aesthetic is boldly and authoritatively against closure. She feels that closure does not accurately mimic the actual world. Rather, it imposes our human, subjective desires on an uncaring, unbiased and objective world. Since it is impossible for a human being to know everything, a poem or text without gaps cannot accurately reflect the “real world.” So what does Hejinian mean when she says, “no ellipsis, just mouth open in astonishment?” Perhaps the “no ellipsis” statement is directly related to the word preceding it, perhaps not. If “no ellipsis” refers specifically to the “something now” then it would seem that the poet is implying that the present moment is devoid of ellipsis and exclusions. In “Continuing Against Closure,” Hejinian could be describing this present moment, the moment in which an event is happening, as “spaces in which an awakening of consciousness occurs, the spaces in which a self discovers itself as an object among others.”


But if this is the case, this space, or zone, is also described by her as “the intermediary, even interstitial zone that lies between any . . .one thing and another.” If this zone in which the reader as self and the thing as object interact, by her own definition, this median is “a zone of alteration, transmutation, a zone of forced forgetting, of confusion” indicating (by the nature of the words forgetting and confusion) that there is information missing in these spaces.


Also, in tandem with the idea of parallax, an object viewed from one angle does not appear the same way when viewed from another. This indicates that certain information that was previously available has now disappeared and created a gap. The selected text itself is full of ellipsis. According to the grammatical definition of ellipsis, the “sentence” Hejinian presents us with lacks certain grammatical constructions that allow us to understand without a doubt her intention. The fact that she has exercised great care over the word choice shows that there is, hidden somewhere, a definite meaning to the lines (a meaning I feel I have gleaned from close study of the excerpt); however, without these specific grammatical clues, the reader’s understanding of meaning still remains a close proximity, not an absolute certainty. Ellipsis is inherent in language, according to Hejinian. “Words,” she says,


are not equal to the world, that a shift, analogous to parallax in photography, occurs between things (events, ideas, objects) and the words for them—a displacement that leaves a gap.


To me, the statement of “no ellipsis” remains a mystery. Perhaps this is an indication of one of the ways in which the excerpt, even as a small piece of a grandiose work, resists the idea of closure. Whatever the intent, Hejinian says it best, when in the end of Happily she writes, “That may be the thing and logically we go when it departs.”

H.K. Rainey

H.K. Rainey

H.K. Rainey lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is poetry editor of the literary journal 580 Split. She is an MFA candidate at Mills College in Oakland where she studies poetics. Her poetry has appeared in Beginnings, The New College Review, The Marr’s Field Journal, and the anthology Word Trips: Poems from the First Coast (Hidden Owl Books, 2007).

Copyright Notice: Please respect the fact that all material in Jacket magazine is copyright © Jacket magazine and the individual authors and copyright owners 1997–2010; it is made available here without charge for personal use only, and it may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, or used for any other purpose.