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luís soares

Blog do escritor Luís Soares

Marianne Boruch - There Ought to Be a Law Against Henry

given his showing up to teach at the U

disheveled, jittery cigarette and cigarette and probably

the drink, losing the very way there

over river, river of all song, all American story

which starts way north of St. Paul quiet or undone

wandering south, not

enraged mostly, something stranger.

That’s one epic shard of John Berryman anyway.


Notorious. And par for the course in a classroom

destined, struck-by-lightning

in sacred retrospect, the kind those long-ago students

now can’t believe themselves

so accidentally chosen, grateful though one

probably claimed the poet absolutely

bonkers then, out of his tree toward the end,

so went the parlance. Wasn’t he

always late—Give them back, Weirdo!—with those

brilliant papers they eked out, small dim-lit

hours when a big fat beer would’ve

been nice. Really nice.

Fuck him, I hear that kid most definitely

blurting were he young right now

though the others—  From the get-go their

startle and reverence. But not even that malcontent

did the damning I can’t believe

they gave him tenure.


Here’s where I think something else, think

of course it’s the Dream Songs that rattled him until—

as grandparents used to say—he couldn’t

see straight. Like Dickinson’s bits of shock and light

did her in between naps and those letters to

some vague beloved unattainable. Or Plath, her

meticulous crushing fog. Maybe closer to Milton working

his blindness—literally blind rage, if you want

to talk rage—into pages soaked through with triumphant

failure and rhyme, always

that high orchestration, that alpha/omega big voice thing. 

And Satan, after all, as wise guy

and looming because for chrissake, Jack, get an interesting

character in there! Someone must have

lobbed that right.


All along, Berryman: how those Dream Songs surely

loosened a bolt or a wheel in his orderly

scholar-head, must have come at him

like Michael the Archangel, 77 days of winged flash

searing him to genius, some kind of

whack-a-mole version. Maybe like Gabriel

cutting that starry celebrity deal

for a most dubious conception in the desert, near a fig tree,

no proper human mechanics required. At last

Berryman’s rage wasn’t rage

but sorrow turned back on itself. With teeth.


Henry my hero of crankiness and feigned indifference,

unspeakable industry, exhaustion

and grief, half funny-crazy, half who-knows-what-

that-line-means. A henry whole

universe of Henry, of

there ought to be a law against Henry—pause

and pause—Mister Bones: there is. 

Will be! Was! Not to say poetry’s

worth it or the most healthy fascination for the sane.

I’m just, I mean—is this love? 


There’s break, as in lucky, as in

shatter. There’s smitten and there’s smite.