Thursday, September 17, 2009

Introduction: John Casteen

Who is the linchpin, the clevis, the keystone, the hinge? The cartographers convinced us of nothing. A dictionary of flowers is a register we populate, we punctuate. Like declensions of dead-language verbs, John Casteen’s poems wax, fill, new, sugartrace and say thus we have its measure: a wrench for a valve on a mothballed sub, smoke in pears, tinnitus, tin pines, tin oaks. Away from where things smell like us, I wanted to be a simple machine, he writes, like Miro, the old guys worked like Miro. This is not that poem like dowsing is, is the loam smell, is a valve without a governor. We’re all afternoon with augurs, the sodium traces drought leaves, wishing I was drunk and waiting. The finally flowering weeds. The smell of ether in the carb. Four winesaps and blood blossom. As I write, the range of variables narrows. It was crazing making. To the landfill for a clean start, then—we knew the bitch payback was. Whose insurgences are whose street riots. John Casteen can map how the annealing tool makes the colors of flowers in his eyes. The animals are gone. And barns like churches. And phloem, vocabularies that char, nomenclatures that say: I don’t want to die because I don’t and the spare room has the sphagnum smell. But it might just be those cool fall nights. John Casteen.

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