- The Underworld, and: Some Anxieties Influenced by Harold Bloom, and: Notes from Steven Pinker’s Discussion of the Subjunctive
You’ve come the wrong way to Heaven, Émigré. It’s above us, where head meets the clouds, see? Since you’ve arrived babbling, was it the sky you expected? Or do you even know? Even now, then, Heaven wouldn’t be for you.
You were made for Hell, here with us, Émigré. Here we reject the consonants. At the letter “B” we stop and remember the Body, ask why we even cared, knowing ours were laid low, piece by piece, eyes blank, lips blue.
Could it be the consonants outlined us, Émigré? And before they wore out, they gave us our bodies, [End Page 152] written down with the certainty of a syllabi and gave us a certain appetite to know. But at what point did the wild vowels burn through?
Some letters clarify, but consonants are the way most people see on Earth, they see only the solid nouns: stone, tree, sky, skin, what Adam named. Our last breaths find the hollow within, sing to the limbo we all pass through.
Yes, all of us here are émigrés. We, too, had a homeland but tried to see by naming, and the naming ended in a sigh. We carried Exile in our mouths, though we didn’t know. And you tried to hang on, but we asked for you.
Some Anxieties Influenced by Harold Bloom
We begin to suspect Bloom is nuts and not altogether fit to print, but we’ve been bitten by his bug, been buggered by it, that’s basic, that’s last quarter’s Lit Crit. Shakespeare he loves, fine, as in No Peers, as in no way. Loves a bit less (but still loves) Ashbery the Untethered: “John’s the modern uninfluenced diva, John makes non-referential dives”— into the Bloom River aka [End Page 153] the East and/or Hudson River(s) since no writer is an island west of that, no Wild West copycats for Bloom— “No, nope, not,” he me-ows, not that we think he has nine lives, not that we think he knows everything, though he might know everything and land on his feet, as we might not.
Notes from Steven Pinker’s Discussion of the Subjunctive
If my grandmother had had balls she’d have been Caesar and would certainly have known Jabba the Hutt from Cookie Monster. Now Cookie, he had balls, he’d eat anything: shit, Shinola, an elephant’s tusk, a paper-and-pencil theoretician, a dozen Eskimos in a dozen different snow snow snow snow storms, and all sixty-four crayons in the Big Box.
Despite the pipe and the tight sweater, Einstein had balls, dropping coins in a plunging elevator, riding beams of light. Einstein would have learned Yiddish if it hadn’t been for Kubla Kahn. And some primatologists have balls, they would have to have, hiding microphones behind bushes, coaxing macaques into laboratories, giving monkeys their lab coats.
Any man would have balls, wouldn’t he, with another little man inside his head? Especially if that little man were Socrates driving a Mercedes-Benz upside-down and backward at 56 rpm . [End Page 154] That’d have to hurt. Now if Caesar had known how to do that, Brutus might have ended up a grandmother.
Julie Larios’s work has appeared in the Atlantic, the Georgia Review, the Threepenny Review, ZYZZYVA, and Best American Poetry. She lives in Seattle, Washington.