Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 7 p.m.
Williams Center for the Arts
One Williams Plaza, Rutherford NJ
Plus the words of William Carlos Williams
and open readings from the floor
Contact: John Barrale – firstname.lastname@example.org
Vijay Seshadri was born in Bangalore, India, in 1954, and came to America as a small child. He is the author of four collections of poems: Wild Kingdom, The Long Meadow (winner of the Academy of American Poets James Laughlin Award), and 3 Sections (winner of the Pulitzer Prize), which have all been published by Graywolf Press; The Disappearances, published by Harper-Collins India; and many essays, reviews, and memoir fragments. He lives in Brooklyn and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.
The People I Know
“Your friendship has meaning for me,” the people I know say,
“but you didn’t create me. In and of myself,
I’m just like the water pouring through the spillway
or the bird on that wire, bright-yellow, with elegant black piping.
Which is to say, my relationship is not to you
but to my limitless surroundings, and it suffices.”
The days when nothing, or nothing much, happens
are the ones they can’t forget, the people I know.
They take the car in to get its oil changed,
its tires checked and rotated.
She at the grimy counter and He, out back jimmying
the hydraulic lift, aren’t speaking to each other today.
Two people who live in the world, our world,
hate each other everlastingly today.
Anger is blossoming from the heart of the trivial, the pointless.
Self-esteem is leaking and oozing
over the concrete floor to pool around the feet.
Its color is the pink color of anti-freeze. The air is stringent
with the smell of anti-freeze.
“I’ve experienced that feeling, I’ve felt that feeling, too,”
the people I know want to say,
but too long have distance, decorum, and self-consciousness governed
the interactions they have with those
who take care of their machines for them to break out
of the cotton-mouthed suffocations of the same,
of their sameness, which is, to be fair, mystifying to them.
“But . . . but . . . it’s killing me, Jake, the pain is killing me.”
So the people I know wander out
onto Auto Body Avenue, and think about
the explosions of noise on this major artery of their city,
the traffic in the proximate empyrean,
the intricacies of the nitrogen cycle,
the dance of the universe from the atoms to the stars.
The people I know stare into the plate-glass
coffee-shop windows at the shrunken heads sitting at the counter.
No one can tell me anything more about the people I know
than what I know already about the people I know.
One man I know is dining with a man he knows.
One woman I know has met a woman with her exact name,
who is from Bessarabia,
though she herself is from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
One girl I know is waiting to be born.
One boy I know is taking a nap.