Q. How important is theory in this poem? It seems as though
it just starts, goes nowhere, tells us nothing we need to know.
A. The concern here is with necessity, not fact. The poem could tell
you everything you wanted to know, but doesn’t.
Some poems begin in the rinse cycle. This one goes right to spin.
Q. We noticed how marvelous the upper strata of the poem is. It suggests
the appeal of authoritarian faith in the old-fashioned
middle class. Did you write it on a train?
A. One day I heard laughter coming from some mysterious source. First I thought
it came from several people who were stuck at the bottom of a well.
Then I speculated it could be a group of teenagers on the level right above me.
After a while, however, I wondered if it might actually be weeping.
I got out my address book and started calling around. In fact, people
were crying when I managed to get in touch with them. Where are
your social contracts now, I snarled, your precious theses on the absolute?
I averted my gaze as their beliefs unraveled.
Q. We can’t help but notice how you seem to be suppressing what you really mean. Are you naked in this poem?
A. I have these pastes and mud packs that I smear all over me, so I’m never really naked, even when I have no clothes on. The same thing goes for this poem. It’s beautiful, stark, totally blank, yet colorful, like a sin you’re considering but haven’t yet committed.