Sit through any random poetry reading or scroll through the newsfeed and you could easily get the impression that Poetry World is crawling with people who secretly want to be rock stars. It may be a little more complicated than that. The poet might just be the victim of a bizarre inner conflict involving the need for solitude and the desire to be noticed. Well, among many other conflicts, and yes, I might be projecting. At any rate, in the case of Paula Tatarunis, that particular inner conflict appears to have been laid to rest when she woke one morning and announced to her husband, Who the hell am I to call myself a poet ?
Who the hell was she, indeed.
A Wallflower In The Amazon
What struck me first was thickness.
I deplaned into the aromatic raptures of volume,
onto a third axis of gravity, density, proliferation.
Mere perimeter, somersaulting around the x,
pirouetting on the y, englobed --
it was not just the vertigo of a rough descent,
persisting across the length of the humid aeroporto,
or for the duration of the trip from Manaus to Manacapuru,
and it was more than the times your cross-eyed stare
pulled me into mezzo-relievo from the wall.
It was a profusion of π beyond my wildest dreams.
Oh, I recognized voracities, invaginations, efflorescences,
even lianas, beaks, and pharynxes.
But everything was star crossed, oestral and vaguely encrypted,
and I had no words for the particular way
the hot brown water purled between roots and banks,
nor for the tattered, green fornix quivering overhead.
Even the shadows were sphinctered, shuttered, irised,
and it was amazing to me how the text lifted from the runway
and cleared the treetops every time.
Evenings, when the expatriate river guide
made small talk by the campfire,
I explained about distributing 2-D glasses
with a quasi-evangelical fervor,
citing the MOMA, Louvre, Jeu de Paume, Prado,
repositories of the seemingly infinite capacities
of surfaces, citing the often life-saving utility
of being able to turn 90˚ and disappear at will,
citing how much the recti and versi of one slim volume can contain,
and yet remain so slim that “volume” seems
The flight home was long.
I had more than enough time
to read through Das Wohltemperierte Klavier twice,
both books, cover to cover (Ed. Bischoff, Berlin, 1884)
then to flatten myself out again like a mercator projection,
all north, all head,
and resume my love affair
with the vanishing point.