Sunday, March 12, 2006

Russell Edson's The Fall

Russell Edson is a peculiar prose poet, writing weird little quasi-parables. I saw him at a reading once and he flipped through his own book, looking for something to read and said into the microphone "oh, this is a good one," as if he had just discovered a new good poem by someone else. Here is his poem The Fall from his 1969 collection What A Man Can See (though I got it out of The Tunnel: Selected Poems):
There was a man who found two leaves and came indoors holding them out saying to his parents that he was a tree.

To which they said then go into the yard and do not grow in the living-room as your roots may ruin the carpet.

He said I was fooling I am not a tree and he dropped his leaves.

But his parents said look it is fall.
Hilarious, obviously. That this is a "man" and not a child is important. I imagine someone in their late twenties still living with his parents and acting childish. He comes in and begins to play a game, he is a tree. His parents use the game as an excuse to kick him out of the house, playfully (but with a serious undercurrent) threatening him with expulsion. He sees this and feels threatened and ends the game, dropping his leaves. But his parents -- clever -- interpret his refusal to play as another part of the game, and now he is trapped in his own metaphor, unable to escape. The fall, of course, is the season in which things are done ripening and are ready for harvest, just as it is time for him to leave home. Games and metaphors are always more insidious than we know.

7 comments:

Chessy said...

I love coming here. It fuels my need to read, to recite, to (for my own purpose) create.

As for a response to the poem in question, I love the way it reads. I love the flow of the poem, how it sounds in an empty room.

jennifert72 said...

i like the anecdote about the poet. great choice and commentary as usual.

The Futurist said...

chessy is absolutely right. This is the place I come to re-fuel my imagination if I'm trapped in the office doing repetative tasks. My respite. My oasis. My Klock.

Mitch Montgomery said...

Hey Geoff... Just wanted to be sure you know that I'm enjoying the poetry posts just as much as the comics. Thanks for everything.

Mitch

Geoff Klock said...

mitch: my am, as always, is to get the poetry folks to care about comics and the comics folks to care about poetry

Austin said...

that's a great poem, thanks.

Stephen Webber said...

I love that he would look through his book and say such a thing. I saw a reading where he would crack himself up. "This is a poem about balls," he would say.