Aught, no. 14 (2005)
a somniloquy based on David Copperfield
Whether I shall
be at loose ends the next time I see you I don’t know,
I think we can deal with that. To begin my life with the beginning of my life,
I record that I was born (as I now have been informed and deformed) on a Friday,
at Horse Embankment Wall. The station master remarked that the ancient wisdom
began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.
I record that I was here on Friday, I was here. It was remarked that the clock
began to strike and I thought that the overwhelming was offensive in some way.
Supposing I was born. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life,
or whether that station will be held by my children, signify by saying eye. To begin
my pains with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been reinformed)
on a Friday, at a dinner feast and look-at-books. It was remarked that the clock began
to strike and I fell out of bed.
I was born.
To begin my story, I record that I was amazed. It was remarked that the daughter
of a psychiatrist moved onto our street and I began to cry, simultaneously. The clock began
to strike and I here record that the share of me is a lot and what’s left of me isn’t much
and I didn’t realize it at first and now I do.
“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I’ve been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike and I began to cry, simultaneously.”
—Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
Over to Uncle Bob’s Island
Until very recently, people
didn’t get across the lake by
motorboat, so I would ferry
them in my little red rowboat,
The Red Baron, which was not
a name I gave it. My dad named it.
I’m making the water very shallow
by adding sand.
In my rowboat, they twiddled
their thumbs and every now and then
they would crack up laughing.
It was not my rowboat either,
but I kind of liked the way it handled
in the water better than mine.
Until very recently, the four of us
didn’t get along on the boat, which
was a great surprise. The back porch
couldn’t get across so I would
certainly like to see that it exists,
but cutting a two by four to measure
is not going to be easy.
Oh, you can’t tell me what to say and
what not to say. That’s not nice.
Until very recently, the dark sky opened
and people didn’t get across by wading
into the waters, so I would ferry them
in my rowboat, called The Portable Red.
The Bloody Red Baron was not the name
I gave it. It was called The Ferocious Land
of the Beasts. My dad named it.
Note on the text
These two poems are somniloquies, created by editing and shaping recordings of sleeptalk that Ms. Graham makes by reading aloud while falling asleep. In the case of "Beginnings," the text is the cited quotation from Dickens. For "Over to Uncle Bob's Island," the source text was the first stanza, itself a snippet of sleeptalk recorded while reading a sociology text.