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  • Writer's pictureRyan Nowlin

A Darkening of Responsibility

A Darkening of Responsibility


Pessoa adopted heteronyms tighter than ceilings,

yet the spiders had the moldings under cultivation,

like the banks of the Rhine. Like grapes

spiders hung in clusters. Perhaps we should return

to the tradition of using the tips of fingers


on one’s Malling-Hansen writing ball like the

one Nietzsche used to telegraph aphoristic thoughts;

Never ending note taking and a mocking silence

in the 11th hour caught something of the frequency

in the room. Perhaps it was best to follow


the accents of a projected intelligentsia

as in the words of Pessoa...

“I am beginning to know myself.

I don’t exist...I’m the gap between

what I’d like to be and what others

have made of me...”

Turing ate a poisonous apple.

Gödel at the end was paranoid. People were trying

to poison him. Time as fortification: to lay siege to a room

where what you used to know passes with each

inked word. Edwin Denby nearly revised


himself out of existence; His notes reveal

a mind redacting the lesser lines,

yet his capacity for stillness may have been ironic

in that what he once said now seems historic---


I’ve heard one strange theory regarding

Denby’s suicide, sweating the big stuff,

the very big stuff: depression, electro shock

therapy, loneliness, celibacy, a darkening

of responsibility after difficult poetic achievements.


I too am alone as I travel involved

only with chance meetings.

I share this interest with my late father,

who would speak often of “people watching”

or of “being an observer”-- a single person

in a crowd pulling tight his overcoat

that twisted down toward his leg.


But today I am at Cape May

with Robin and Suzy, strolling on the board-

walk and then hiking along


a stretch of clean beach, our day trip

from Piscataway. I pick up four stones

and shells and remember how I once gathered

mysterious, smooth stones on yet another beach

along the shore of Capri in late June 2002.




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