The Sienese Shredder - Art Design Literature Poetry Music Culture News
Sienese Shredder 4 Now Available

Limited Edition Slipcased Set The Sienese Shredder 1–4
Available now

Clark Coolidge & Bernadette Mayer




Beckett:    Well, what think you, Floyd, of these meanders?
Collins: I never read much, printed sheets that is, ’ceptin’ the labels on
kerosene cans in my work. Heard voices sometimes.
B: There’s Melville, see, who wished to bring all the world to
himself, & Mayer who wanted all of herself to the world. Or is
that too neat an edge?
C: It’s true, the cave is rough enough to hold a rock edge and then
black air.
B: Disgusting. It’s either all the connections or none. Must we
always have it either way? Maybe best I should join you over
that cold can of beans in the darkness.
C: You could do worse. These people who sit and scribble…I’d like
to plunk ’em down sudden like, say in the Lost Passage with no
lights. See who or what emerges.
B: Fairly extreme, Floyd. But maybe no more so than in my cubicle
with the single window looking out on nothing, the empty page
in my head, always the sharpened pencil waiting for…
C: One of my prime rules: never wait. Move on if you find
yourself lacking a direction. You’ll find yourself in one, and
sometimes enough of a pickle. After all I finally ended up…
B: Christ, I know well enough. I’ve always tried to end each
sentence carefully and doubtless, but the final twist of syntax
fitted out with a period’s never enough. I’ve never been able to
end anything. My horror, not a sentence that ever ends.
C: Same with caves, Sam. They sometimes pinch you but never
quite close. Fair maddening. Speechless. Caves at least give you
that. Rule Two: always go alone. But I’ve spoken more since I’ve
been here with you than I reckon I did in the whole of my life
down there.
B: They always said I did tend to draw people out. But that’s one of
the least of my failings. No wonder I was never able to finish
my books, always ending by starting another one.
But what of this Coolidge, seems he landed in a grotto himself a
time or two. God knows why. He certainly didn’t. Probably
couldn’t help himself once he’d started.
C: Probably wanted to shut his mouth and strain his eyes instead.
Caves are lighthouses for the blind. From what you say about
his books he was always getting lost off the main passage, and
that’s the nature of a cave gets you to pondering. There’s surely
no one way.
B: But that’s what I always tried to tell Joyce. Poor soul, always
thought himself stuck in the thoroughfare. Of course, he was
quite the hot one for a crack. But then cracks do lead us?
C: Sometimes I used to hear voices calling me down there.
Sometimes they’d tell me which way to go. But if they called on
me to wait up for ’em then I knew I was fucked.
B: My voices always seem to be trying to tell me where I am, or,
worse, where I’ve been. Either way they keep me from
finishing. Maybe I should pay more attention to Mayer,
bringing every flick of herself up to the moment each time. She
gets a momentum that way I wish I could build. But I seem
caught in the reverse, the future a baffle of ice I slip from, one
step forward makes two steps back.
C: Got trapped below a mud slope one day, until I hit on the idea
of embedding slabs in it far enough up till I got a handhold.
Took me most of a day but I got out. Reminds me a bit of what
you say about that fellow Coolidge, how he escaped from one of
his books. Nothing but jump-offs and clambers, this life.
B: So called. You never trusted what took place in the open air.
Rather trust to the still solids, seeming still that is.
C: Nothing to do with Nature, that one. Just my own fault.
B: Ha, and there’s Mayer titling her writing Agoraphobia. And
Coolidge dreaming of a kind of music that sets like painting.
They think they’ll have an end of it, but they’ve got another
thing coming.
C: Sam, you’ve really got an itch ’bout endings, maybe ’cause you
ain’t even dead and buried. But look at me. That measly leetle
boulder put a finish to me, along with all them strangers
mucking around taking so long to start anything practical,
and here I am jawing with the likes of you still and have to
watch them fellers stumbling on my links. If this is an
“ending” to anything I’d like you to tell me just how.
B: Yes. It’s just as I feared. I always wanted what there’s absolutely
none of. See that chair? That’s where I’ve taken to sitting to
watch one sunset after another. Abysmal!
C: Listen, Sam, beyond that wall is a whole other system. I always
knew it and sometime I even found it. Quite a few them fellers
haven’t even found yet.
B: I even have to sit and watch Coolidge & Mayer writing further
and more endless books! And it seems they haven’t even
finished with Melville and Hawthorne! At least my writing’s
getting shorter. Each time…
C: All illusion, Sam. Like some stalactites I’ve seen, condensations
of whole mountains of lime.
B: I didn’t know you knew such terms as “condensations,” Floyd.
C: See, that’s the thing about being dead. It’s all here at once.
Lacking time, nothing is hidden. Not a wall can hold my vision,
now it’s too late…
B: Sounds like living in a dictionary. And I know a little of that.
C: One of us is waiting and one of us isn’t.
B: Ha! Try and tell them that. Or any of this.
Now, how about telling me one more story about the Lost
Passage. And turn out the light. That way your sentences
get longer.

CLARK COOLIDGE (Counting on Planet Zero, Fewer & Further Press, 2007)
and BERNADETTE MAYER (Scarlet Tanager, New Directions, 2005) collaborated
on The Cave throughout the 1970s. The work in its entirety is scheduled to
appear from Adventures in Poetry.

For the complete article purchase The Sienese Shredder #3

Back to The Sienese Shredder #3

Sienese Shredder IssuesIssue 4The Sienese Shredder, Volume 4Issue 3The Sienese Shredder, Volume 3Issue 2The Sienese Shredder, Volume 2Issue 1The Sienese Shredder, Volume 1