Ish Klein’s “We Will Free Each Other”

Before my recent reading for Big Night in Buffalo, I went on a book-buying spree at Talking Leaves. I was the proverbial kid in a candy store. Michael Kelleher, who accompanied me, and Jonathan Welch, the bookstore’s owner, both recommended Ish Klein’s Moving Day (Canarium Books, 2011). After thumbing through the book a little, I instinctively knew that the two had advised me well; I was happy to be introduced to the work of this poet.
         I’d like to offer one of her poems from that collection below. I was interested in the struggle within the poem between the speaker and the “dorky actor” who keeps pursuing her and interrupting her fun, observing her yet also sharing her identity.
         This and many other poems in Moving Day are amenable to close reading, and anyone who follows this blog knows that I love nothing better than to slow down my reading and savour the richness that a poem can yield, in both its fractured surface and its play of ideas.
         In my next post, I’ll take a closer look at the struggle between the self and the dork. Here’s the poem:

WE WILL FREE EACH OTHER

Yes, yes larval.
Larvalous was eye—the stars,
they were wondering, “When is X coming out?
Considering the material, X will be something!”

Always it was exclaimed.
It was exclaimed!!!
The expectation and their faces like the mark:
a line dividing over a little black hole.

A glamorous anus was the mark of the sentiment.
And then, and then came the actor.
The dork who wanted form. And he figured
where the seeing-me-capacity was and he watched me be.

This guy had been practicing accuracy
and still he came upon me with calipers.
Calipers! Still he pointed towards me
until I hissed

and he hissed back.
It was so ugly!
I cried and he cried
and I thought pathetic!

So I rolled up and grumbled.
I put a mountain in my mind.
I broke from it—a boulder me
and I hurled down a slope—the hardest part of the mountain.

As a stone on the base of it did i make me
and then I said slowly,
“Mountain. Go. Away. Leave. Me. In. Space.
The. Actor. Can. Look. At. A. Rock.”

When I looked out the actor was a rock,
a rock who may have been there before me.
I should not have been so astounded.
So much the fool was I being.

I was, I was, I was
just short of being nothing
and the actor was more on top of it than me.
This actor—watch out!

If you see the actor, evaporate—
find a place—be there instead,

I returned to the serpent form. I said,
“Stop looking at me while I’m working on stuff!”
And I know you know this. I know you know
he’s saying when I say this at the same time

the same exact time. And maybe even—
No. That’s just me but some would say
he’s saying it first. Some would say,
I said it first.

“STOP LOOKING AT ME
WHILE I’M WORKING!”

What do you want then?
What do you want?
So weakened was I then being, indeed, NOW recounting
recounting turns me into an aspic, unset—

a drooling reverberating—just recounting,
and I have been recounting for hours,
every day in some point, in stone time,
although I am not now a stone girl.

In-between-worlds / during / visiting
under the heat lamp sun, the earth—
our incubator. Within this context
of incompletion, I am coming to power in space.

So it’s electric flying too
over grey and glinting paths,
the sun touching only me like so
because it’s my feeling

and wild-eyed I find myself aloft
and taken away: hurray, hurray
I say, “We’re here!”
and the ground comes up

and the actor is on the pavement splayed,
mouthing my every mood. Instantly I say,
“Don’t believe him—he isn’t it.
He isn’t something; he’s pretending.”

Which is what he’s saying.
Then he says (and this comes from my mouth, too),
“Sold for food.
I sold my birthright for food.

I was hungry.
I WAS HUNGRY!”

But I am not hungry.

But I said it anyway.


Camille Martin

One response to “Ish Klein’s “We Will Free Each Other”

  1. Pingback: The Self vs. Apollo the Dork: Ish Klein’s “WE WILL FREE EACH OTHER” | Rogue Embryo

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