The Hijacking of a Poem by Geraldine Monk in Order to Make Notes About Cars & Driving in the Margins Of It

Edmund Hardy

In the '(Subject: Back on Track)' section of Geraldine Monk's Manufractured Moon the poet drives the city streets in the early morn, window wide, and as "conversations, contretemps tittle-tattle hit earshot" they are noted in four columns (broken into one column in these quotations) –

'what the
stop . .
where did .
over here..
yam sick
(Ooh never) . .
. watch it . . .
babe . . .
s/f/luck its
The city given off in speech, snatched at speed, no time to map relations of mimesis and alterity; here, contrary to William Carlos Williams, the pure products always were crazy, no need for witness or adjustment, and, of course, "I" am driving the car.

. . . s/da(f)t
bas-t-ar tara
see u out 'n'
Where am I / are we driving to? Perhaps just driving, restlessly, as our terrible living is a simple going, "So instead of getting to Heaven, at last – / I'm going all along." (Emily Dickinson, 324) No revelatory "at last" but a quotidian getting-there.

side eer
flame    in in
in..anas I
. . woz . . . wot
yucol   me . . .
leave! it   a
lone bol irks
crule cry
Thomas Hardy, in his poem 'Nobody Comes', described a moment when "A car comes up, with lamps full-glare," the car "whangs along in a world of its own". From inside the car, it is whangs of speech from the pavement, a city of tongues and the speed limit.

.crude.i cry
in allin . . .
yer mind . . .
ful . . . t
throated . . .
a'll throttle
. . . pizza . . .
ever let me
hear here
you say eat or
met al bar
none . . .
injure . . . n
. . . jalfazi . . .
oys . . . 'zchoo
from finglan'
Or is it the hangover after things stop being various? A zingarella of slurred figures? The self withdrawn from the world and thus outside, beside itself, for later "I headed home into I." In Shakespeare's English, a "voice" is a vote – as in Coriolanus – so the poem hears a social democratic force, woozy, argumentative, desiring a pizza –

lost de key . . .
.smol world
big cit . . .
catrut sit e
smelt swerds.
. . . .mewl
shut out
shout and
god alof.
– and "United.Un." A football chant, or a spontaneous outburst of commonality? Shouted then unshouted. Ginsberg's 'Wichita Vortex Sutra' is also, famously, a car ride, "The way this was determined was: I dictated it on this Uher tape recorder. Now this Uher microphone has a little on-off gadget here (click!) and then when you hear the click it starts it again, so the way I was doing it was this (click!); when I clicked it on again it meant I had something to say. " (1) Radio, newspapers, billboards, public rhetoric, these all cut into the Volkswagen, though the poet must speak against, even in a world of undirected sound, a fury of confusion. "A chief virtue of 'Wichita Vortex Sutra' is that it makes the reader experience the proliferation and abuse of language." (2) In a different time, Monk relies on an open window. My experience of the four columns is of isolate flecks run together, recombining in time even as they are riven by it. Goodbye.


(1) Ginsberg, Allen. Composed on the Tongue: Literary Conversations, 1967-1977. Ed. Donald Allen. San Francisco: Grey Fox, 1980.

(2) Mersmann, James. Out of the Vietnam Vortex. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1974.


Use of the phrase "undirected sound" and the word "riven" was suggested by their appearances in Michael Davidson's Ghostlier Demarcations: Modern Poetry and the Material Word. (California: University of California Press, 1997.)

Geraldine Monk's Manufractured Moon can be read in her Selected Poems (Salt).

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