The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2018

All Issues
JUNE 2018 Issue





Forebear asymptotic arms asunder, argyle agate, ornate articles of thunder. Formica is the fallback. Eerie table top knows it, times bilingual absurdity ‐table mesa‐  and affluent articles, antagonistic sombreros in the succulent Peruvian forged and foremost the queue to get into the best pho on the planet, the pho queue, where the best dumpling is all that and dimsum. Don't stop the assiduous murder, that wrongful action, dying the last ember worth around the house, in and around the house, strangers come out at night and we feed them. Do, lean on the horn to puzzle the scorned vertebrate, ancillary, Foghat ombudsman, free form, spelling frigate bird sorcery, feverish pitch darkness, brutal bestiary. Am buckle, unbuckle and soar fossily, fro on the Johnson, naked man at Berkeley, bring him home, a small hero, small's not a joke, a big one, there, said for no one’s dignity. Sophocles and Tamerlane, together at last in eternity. Not eternity, they were the erasures of said such, as are we, erasures of eternity, like in that Banksy piece legendizing an Australian outlaw, and mercenary of tabloid, venturing capital into unsettled territory for abdication. Free Robert Johnson. That's where my mind leaves you. That's the striking moment, while it’s hot. And I'm losing someone, except not you, everyone else. And it is, is it not, worth it, to save one to lose all of the rest? There is a sense in which that is the test.




Cue The Music

“Ok, what I was saying was, so my nieces, when they were young, Jamaica, and then Irie as well, and their little brother Dante—we would go on these walks and we would sing... everything that would happen, and they were like, these ‘little musicals’ and I felt like I was living inside a musical at the time. And, I would think, well, this is possible for the future, this is a possible future — everything being musical.

And then, not too long ago, on facebook, Jamaica, who’s like now 22, I think, she... said she watched ‘Grease’ for the first time, and liked the idea of... she said... “What happened to musicals, why don’t we have musicals... more often?” So that led me to remember this time when we were young and... everything was... a musical. And I often think about what it would be like if we were...we were... living inside of music all the time... both... in our movement... and in our... so-called speech, you know, dancing and singing constantly, and, you know, that that’s a possible... that that could »happen. That’s a possible iteration in the future. Although maybe way in the future. Um, for society... but for myself »personally... I think it’s a worthwhile goal... which I think about sometimes when I’m dancing in the morning, like how to extend that dance all day long, and, I haven’t been as musical lately as I used to be... I haven’t had the time, to practice, although I need to get back into it...because I want to... also extend that.

So, that’s just a little riff of of your... um cool info about that tribe [ the Dagara, of Burkina Faso, who have a musical ur-language ], which I didn’t know about, um, and I could definitely see how language would lock you in. I also think about going to see... uh, this musical, not musical...but a motet recently. A 40-person motet. That you walk into this room and there’s 40 speakers and each speaker has, you know, one person’s voice, of the motet so you can walk around and listen to each person’s individual voice, and, I would watch people walk into this room, which is at the cloisters in New York City and... about half the people that walked in would immediately start crying...and just the way that music can just... do that... to you. Amazing.”

Adam DeGraff - transcribed from a voxer by Darin De Stefano 02.23.14 11:11 AM





Once upon a time my Skylark was broken into,
my stereo stolen, and the only token left behind,
forsaken, was a worn-out Carhartt jacket.

I wear the Carhartt everywhere now,
as if I got the steal, and it looks good too,
blue, a little ripped, a functional hood,
halfway unzipped.




The Point of the Cape

The moon
Lights up the clouds
Like a sunflower at night
Through the round glass window
With the Diamond pattern open
So the flies can come in and land
On the solitary blue chair below
The monkey puzzle tree
With white honeysuckle draping over
Like a blanket of perfume
As mommy and Ed walk
Out the gate to the piano bar
Where the show tunes seem old
Until the wine gets past
The row of four lighthouses
On the point of the Cape.




Blonde Nimbus

Last night went to Blonde Redhead with Tyler
I was mourning the death of Bill Berkson
and didn't really want to go

Blonde Redhead though?
O’hara spelled blonde
with an "e" too and Bill was
a major blonde for O'hara, and so,
on the blonde tip, I decided to go.

In the car over ‐apropos of nothing‐
Tyler starts talking about the short story
by Kafka called “Silence of the Sirens”
wherein, he said, Odysseus, instead
of stopping up the ears of his crew,
stops up his own and listens.

I thought of that Keats line,
“Heard Melodies Are Sweet
but Those Unheard Are Sweeter.”

And that's what happens too
because we miss Blonde Redhead altogether
arrive just as the show is ending.

A moment of silence.

Instead we went to
a little bar called Sunny's.

In the back room a sorry ass band was
playing Hank Williams songs
which was so much better
I could cry



Adam DeGraff

Adam DeGraff’s most recent book is Wherewithal, hot off Subpress. He currently teaches at LaGuardia (and soon at St. Francis Prep), hosts the Kith & Kin reading series in Queens NY with Tyler Burba, and, with Genevieve George, looks after two daughters in Sunnyside NY. Adam also makes Suessian floral arrangements out of pipe-cleaners with his daughters, or at least he is today.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2018

All Issues