Thursday, April 12, 2007


Stumbling on Bruce Weigl While Wandering the French Quarter

You may remember me raving about Weigl's most recent book, Declension in the Village of Chung Luong, in a previous post. While in New Orleans last week, I wandered into Faulkner House Books while touring the French Quarter and stumbled on an earlier collection, The Unraveling Strangeness (Grove Atlantic, 2002), which is proving to be just as powerful as Declension.

Section Two is one long poem, "Incident at Eagle's Peak," about the struggle for meaning in a life. I can't find it on the web and don't have time to type the whole thing, but here's an excerpt, below. (I can't get the formatting to come out -- the second line of each stanza should be indented. Apologies to the author.) The narrator and a childhood friend are visiting a patch of woods they had played in as boys.

I heard my friend's voice
rise up above the wind
and say that his life had come to nothing.

His sadness filled the air around us.
It rose up and moved the branches.
It floated along the rive like a mist,

so I wanted to find a way
to tell him that he was wrong.
I wanted to make a story for him

that could be alive in the place
he had come to imagine was nothing,
but there was no use for words there,

and when he had finished
telling his long sadness,
he breathed deeply,

and he shook his head
no to the river,
or to the wind in the trees

that makes a sound like all of memory
or to the life he felt strangled by.

Run out to your local independent bookstore and grab a copy. Or order it from Powell's.

And don't forget, while we're on the topic of unionized shops, to boycott Starbucks. Read about the campaign for better working conditions here. (Or at least register your disapproval at their employment practices by writing an e-mail to Chairman Howard Schultz at and calling Starbucks at 800.235.2883 demanding he respect the right of workers to form a Union to get out of poverty.)

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