I bought a recliner because I am getting old and I wanted a corner in which to read and write in my notebook. Of course, the recliner is purple. It just happened to be the last surviving member of its species, a discontinued product at the downtown Brooklyn Macy’s, so I got a good deal on it, and hey, it’s purple. But when you live in a small space, the addition of one big piece of furniture means everything else has to shift.
I had to get rid the weird awkward piece of furniture that was in the spot where the chair is now (isn’t it a sweet domestic scene?) – a kind of giant bedside table with two drawers at a skewed angle, but that entailed finding a space for my tights (I don’t know, a couple hundred pairs? because what if I was missing a color or pattern?), boxes containing miscellaneous items like sunglasses, half-finished packs of gum, matchbooks, barrettes, fake birds, umbrella condoms, etc., and mug holders over which I’ve draped numerous baubles, mainly bracelets… and since there was no space anywhere I had to empty a cupboard of fabric, try (unsuccessfully) to consolidate it with another cupboard of fabric, and get rid of lots of stuff in the process, making the dust bunnies scurry right into my nostrils, ugh.
It’s 11:51, I’m still up. Not trying to write a T. Berrrigan poem here, just saying. Found out today my thyroid is still high, which explains the sleeplessness, let’s hope I can relax soon, but not before I’ve spring-cleaned all 850 square feet of the apartment, you know? And not until I say something about Brandon Brown’s chapbook “The Orgy,” which actually seems to come from a similar kind of hyperthyroid state to the one I’m in now: it’s jazzed, and anguished, but jazzed.I know I seem lately to be mentioning his poems rather a lot, but DAMN, this book is just exactly what I want from poems right now.
Without wanting to say something so hackneyed about a chapbook that its central metaphor “functions on several levels at once,” I don’t know quite how else to put it. That orgy, from what I can divine, seems to hop around on at least four levels, like some kind of mega-disco where each on each floor you can hear a different kind of music but all throb with party energy equally (you know?) So.. the orgy, certainly alludes in some sense to an actual group sex encounter, or something like it (some of the gossip indicates it wasn’t really all that lurid), that actually happened in the Bay Area and has worked its way into a kind of legend; the orgy may also allude to the somewhat licentious (again, this is all secondhand, so what do I know) youth poet party scene there (and is it still like that, or was that a little inflammation?); it certainly alludes to ancient Rome, for our friend Brandon has at least one sandal in those olden days(“Siphoned milk raptors make a smorgasbord/ of Roman history”); it most definitely spreads a metaphorical net onto the orgy of late capitalism in the hyper-information age (“this crystal mall must be destroyed”); and most compellingly, to me, it seems to refer back on itself to the orgy of writing that makes itself felt in every moment of this galvanized, kind of emo (in the best possible sense: “ “My heart struggles./ It’s big as a chard, but it never learns.”) poem. OK, so that’s five ways, maybe there are more.
Its snappy never-fail pacing helps to infuse (I overuse that word, I know, but what else… imbue? I overuse that, too) its abjection and nausea with a bitter and endearing hilarity: all of course the wages of orgy and excess. BB makes such deft shapes out of his misery, that’s poeisis, it’s alchemy, because the poem is so pleasurable, and it’s effective. Reading it, I feel with and for him: Indeed, an enactment of Dana Ward’s marriage of Watten and Watteau, or, as I put it, form + fauve.
The poem has this repeating figure: “For months I was trying to stop the orgy/ but I couldn’t,” “For months I was trying to stop organizing funky honey showers,” “For months I was trying to stop the overflow of with belying underflow of pith,” “There was no way I could stop/ the orgy. It was too big and powerful./ Too many people owned the story/ of the orgy. I had to let the orgy stop me.” “For months I was trying to stop this orgy.” Each time it comes around in the poem I feel the incredible strength of his resistance to the orgy, but also a simultaneous protesting too much, like there’s something about the size and power of the orgy that fascinates him, that makes him feel so keenly pained that it is also almost pleasurable, just as you can feel him pleasurably constraining the orgy of his energy in the poem’s tight form and clever wordplay. OK, I’m not going to give any examples because you know what, this isn’t a “review.” This is an “I’m just sayin’” and plus it’s 12:18 and I REALLY have to try to sleep.