Poems and Texts

from About Ed and Communal Nude by Robert Glück

from About Ed

Tonight we watch a Mario Bava film in which moist decomposition replaces the genre’s earlier effects, as though a horror of decay is more germane to the present. It’s weird to be watching corpses rock back and forth in their own putrescence while lying next to Ed. The monster shows the world what she is: she throws open her robe with a triumphant expression to reveal a red chest cavity packed with roiling white maggots. Because of this image, I don’t look Ed in the eye, as though I’d accidentally seen something too personal. What does he make of the skeletons with rags of flesh? I am the only one who can ask him this question so I do. He rolls his head on the pillow and reminds me in a mild voice that he will be cremated, and that decay is not the same as death. He says, “My death is an emptiness that I can’t fill.” I am relieved, but why? We both know Ed will soon be reduced to ash. He’s dying in stop action like a good make-up job: the chaotic expression, the skeletal jeer, the pumpkin head wobbling with bon vivance on the broomstick neck, the pinched nose, the eyebrows pulled back, the eyes starved and hurt.

The monsters rise up while Ed and I sink into the pillows. But horror movies are actually comedies because death is reversible. Or it’s a consummation: the one taken by the monster experiences the full extent of his death. In his last scream, the victim faces the monster and dredges horror to the limit. Like a sexual consummation, he groans from the deepest place where his body (the world) begins.

from “Long Note on New Narrative”

We were thinking about autobiography. By autobiography, we meant daydreams, nightdreams, the act of writing, the relationship to the reader, the meeting of flesh and culture; the self as collaboration, the self as disintegration, the gaps, inconsistencies, and distortions of the self; the enjambments of power, family, history, and language.

from “Baucis and Philemon”

Jean Baudrillard posits the following version of self: “€œEach person sees himself at the controls of a hypothetical machine, isolated in a position of perfect and remote sovereignty, at an infinite distance from his universe of origin.” I read this with a thrill, acknowledging what pertains to me: the universe of origin, the multinational system that forms me and yet is as impossible to understand as . . . Still, it’s hard to be an astronaut for long without laughing, and not only to share Baudrillard’s scorn for the ineptness of a self whose story is miniaturized as an astronaut’€™s citrus drink €”I’€™d laugh at (make art from) any version of self, even one that does a better job of providing a local. I write about these forms €”that are myself €”to acknowledge and then dispense with them, to demonstrate their arbitrariness, how they disintegrate before a secret (the world, the body).

Robert Glück

Robert Glück is the author of eleven books, including two novels, Margery Kempe and Jack the Modernist, a collection of stories, Denny Smith, prose poems with Kathleen Fraser, In Commemoration of the Visit, and, most recently, Communal Nude: Collected Essays. His work is included in anthologies such as The Faber Book of Gay Short Fiction, The Norton Anthology of World Literature, and Lust for Life: On the Writings of Kathy Acker. He prefaced artist Frank Moore’s Between Life and Death, and edited, with Camille Roy, Mary Berger and Gail Scott, the anthology Biting The Error: Writers Explore Narrative. Glück was co-director of Small Press Traffic Literary Center, associate editor at Lapis Press, and director of The Poetry Center at San Francisco State, where he is an emeritus professor. He lives in Malmö, Sweden, and “high on a hill” in San Francisco.  

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