Love, A Footnote
1 The KGB Bar, on 2nd Avenue in New York’s East Village, was the headquarters of
the Ukrainian Communist Party, which explains the curious décor but not the frequent
2 Red is evoked by the longest wavelengths of light discernible to the human eye.
Red is long; long and slow. The curtains in the KGB Bar are not so much red as a
history of red.
3 Podium, from the Latin. Not to be confused with lectern. One stands on a podium
but at a lectern. One leans one’s elbows or sets one’s beer, beaded with
condensation, on the lectern.
4 In ventriloquism, the speaker’s voice seems to come from elsewhere. This doesn’t
explain why he called his poem “The Ventriloquist.” Maybe something about the poet
and some other poet, or the poet and the reader, but I don’t like trickery anyway.
5 We associate red with heat, energy and blood, and with emotions associated with
heat, energy and blood – like anger, or like love. Ezra Pound makes his ideogram of
‘Red’ with four signifiers: rose, cherry, iron rust, flamingo. I would use: blood, brick,
cardinal, sex. Sex because, like red, it moves in long, slow waves. If not sex, then
velvet, which is how red ought to feel to the touch. Or how sex ought to feel to the
6 You sat next to me, though I didn’t know you at the time. It was so very red, dark
and red and there was so much smoke you could see how the air moved around
people moving through it.
7 I love words that can inhabit more than one part of speech, as in: a match or to
match. The phosphorous smell off a just-lit match. Enough light for two faces to share.
8 Wallace Stegner’s comment about “art as the communication of insight” appears
in different incarnations literal and figurative in several of his works but my favorite
is the Angle of Repose. You looked surprised that I had such a thought in my head.
I took it as a compliment, at the time.
9 Wallace Stegner graduated from the University of Utah in 1930. Angle of Repose
(see footnote 11) was published in the early 1970s.
10 In Plato’s Symposium, Diotima tells Socrates the mystery of how to experience
the ideal form of beauty through love. It has to do with possession, and eternity.
11 An “angle of repose” is the slope at which granular materials come to rest if, say,
piled in a conical shape or gathering at the base of a sheer rock face. There are many
occasions to see this in Utah. In many cases, owing to iron rust, the rocks are red.
The process is long, long and slow.
12 As with match, one can be patient, or one can be a patient. I have been both,
but never at the same time.
13 Veselka is a Polish diner on 2nd Avenue in the East Village, near St. Mark’s
Church. Very good pierogi, many of the clientele have chic glasses, cases for musical
instruments, and dirty hair. I like to sit at the counter. I do not have dirty hair but
sometimes wish I did.
14 Sake is a Japanese beverage produced by multiple fermentations of rice.
Sometimes it tastes like heavy moonlight, sometimes it tastes like a neon sign that’s
just been turned off. In Japan, sake is drunk from small cups called chokku. In
certain Lower East Side apartments in December, it is heated in a microwave and
drunk from chipped coffee mugs that say things like “Happy Secretary’s Day” and
“#1 Dad,” even though the person who lives there is neither a secretary nor a dad.
15 Feeling is a way knowing what you’re going to think about something. Example:
I felt I could think of loving you. Emotion as premonition. It is a mystery. It is the
ideal form of beauty.
Author Discusses Poems