Apparatus, Zachary Hamilton
Saturday night sky was a bloom with rose kites of place. Walking into a green book cover stitched together out of soft thread, a micro-tape silhouette beneath the moment, sound pours within, a little river carved from the roof top into a silver horse shoe pond running through the attic (Molecule)
A series of hands run along the tapestries beneath the mountain, a capturing of sleep from under the rust oxide fabrics of time. The loosening purpose, [eyes,] ripe with reflection and studying instructor lines of Delta patterns; only so much picture can be made of, since a room is golden marble, stacked in geometry. Five little rooms (inside each other) for lives to grow source, flat in moss, grown in mushrooms. A weaving world of challenges and insects. Windows form in windows again, once the walls disrobe those deep wood lines –
They’ve got to have membranes in walls or stuff gets broken, they’ve got to move, bend and be broken over and then grow again just like before – otherwise the house dries up and crumbles. The house (five times) crumbles and falls through mountain, and through tapestries. Alone. One clock swinging open._______________Zachary Hamilton
Review by Dave Mehler
In “Sand Library,” structurally, we have a simple and unadorned prose poem, driven entirely by trope and image. In some ways it’s a description of a landscape, in other ways of a building, a person(?), or perhaps an apparatus of some sort, or maybe all of these. Sand evokes time as grains falling through an hourglass; perhaps a particle something like but larger than a molecule. Library evokes culture, history and literature; in short, civilization. Zach takes these things, time, landscape/building and books and learning and jazzes around with them, weaves and braids them together in as many ways as he can think of to create a portrait of whimsy. “Sound pours” instead of sand, “a hand runs along the tapestries,” fingering, feeling, and touching, “five little rooms to grow” (the senses? Fingers on a hand?), “a weaving world of challenges and insects,” “once the walls disrobe,” “they’ve got to move… otherwise the house dries up and crumbles… alone” (we all die alone), “one clock swinging open” (like a door, into eternity?). Maybe the point is all of these things (civilization/meaning) are sand and come to nothing, and we die alone? Maybe, but I don’t think so, because the clock swings open, not closed. To me this points to optimism, uneasy and fully acknowledging the above, yes, but optimism. As in “Cur.tain,” I think Zach is looking for ways to see past obstruction, through walls, past or through curtains, and while “windows form in windows” there are windows, and walls have membranes, sometimes we have to have things to hold other things in, “or stuff gets broken.” I think what Zach is after is vision and clarity without clutter or impurities; a clear, clean, well-lit view. This is moral writing that’s earnest and searching without being pedantic or moralistic.
As I attempt to write something about this, I feel like a person who loves cats, and I have a cat before me, and I’m contemplating taking the cat apart to show you why I love it and to convince you to love it too. I have a scalpel in hand, but my heart isn’t in it.
So, the first line – “Saturday night sky was a bloom with rose kites of place.” If you don’t feel the creative energy of this line, and get the impression of a rose kite rising inside you… if you don’t feel the Saturday night sky bloom in your head, what can I say to have that happen for you?
This isn’t a rhetorical question. I’d like to know. If I could take a line of poetry and write something that would empower you to enjoy it when you don’t, or allow you to enjoy it more than you already do, well, maybe there could be some money in it for me.
If Dave hadn’t asked me to write something about Sand Library after I told him how much I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t say anything more about it. I’m sure there’s plenty of poetry you love, and there’s no need for you to love this one. It isn’t a sign of your lack of intelligence if you don’t love it. There’s nothing I know that you don’t that allows me to enjoy it and prohibits you from feeling the same way.
If you enjoy Escher drawings and then you read a line like “Five little rooms (inside each other)” and then you realize the line doesn’t read “Five little rooms (one stacked inside the other)” like you first imagined it did, setting up a sort of large box filled with successively smaller boxes, each with a box inside it, but that the line reads “each room is stacked inside each other room” an impossibility, well, you might get the same pleasure from the action resulting from a line like this that you did from an Escher painting, where he seems to have painted visual impossibilities.
My Escher analogy is an attempt to activate the line of poetry for you if you enjoy Escher but you didn’t enjoy this line. Did that help?
It’s like I’ve got this friend, and you’re my friend, and I want you two to be friends, too, so I introduce the two of you. If nothing happens, is there anything I can do to make the two of you like each other? I doubt it. The more I offer the excellent qualities of the one to the other, the more they realize how much they dislike each other.
So, rather than review this poem, hoping to be helpful, I’ll say something about how we respond to not liking a poem. How, when not liking a poem because we don’t “get” it, we often we feel that we lack something we should have, that we haven’t read enough, haven’t thought enough, aren’t smart enough. We are deficient, and the poem catches us out. We become resentful towards the poem and the poet. It’s a miserable process, and I’ve been through it countless times.
Please don’t respond that way. Please just shrug and let it go. Most likely you didn’t miss out on the poem’s experience because of any rectifiable deficiency in yourself. You missed out because… well, most likely because you’re not all things, and you don’t contain all sensibilities. You’re a being with a unique set of predispositions. That you like some poems and don’t like others isn’t a fault in need of rectification, but rather is a function of subjectivity.
I’ve read a small fraction of all the poetry that’s out there. About 10% of it I enjoy, the rest doesn’t do much for me. Why, I ask myself, get hung up on the 90% when I will never have enough time and energy to search out even a fraction of the 10% that I find enjoyable?
If you don’t enjoy Sand Library, I don’t care, and I don’t think you should either. If you do love the poem, and think that you could say something about it that will make others love it who don’t, or make those who do love it love it better, please share your thoughts. Perhaps there is a way.