The Complete Poems of Louis Daniel Brodsky: Volume Four, 1981-1985
edited by Sheri L. Vandermolen
The windshield wipers — Flutes playing in tandem — Keep time for my meandering, Register the highway's syncopations, Signifying, repeatedly, My states of mental alertness and fatigue.
With each arpeggio, they briefly erase Pernicious fog-beads Colliding with my onrush, Out of an opaque sky Stretching down, Enveloping the road, like a giant snake-bag.
My ophidian bones and brain suffocate. Neither music nor poetry Lifts, mystically, from the trance My somnolent spirit inhabits. I coil inside morning's white silence, Uncharmed.
Use the player below to listen to Louis Daniel Brodsky read this poem.
Tracing the days of the writer edging into middle age, the 888 poems presented in volume four of The Complete Poems of Louis Daniel Brodsky offer a glimpse into the frenzied life of a man compelled, by his discipline and inner passion, to capture the elements of his existence and explode them upon the page.
Starting in January 1981 and following through December 1985, the pieces detail Brodsky's stark, ever-increasing loneliness, which was only occasionally mitigated by joyous moments spent with his wife and two children. Removing himself, more and more regularly, from the doldrums of business and the insularity of Farmington, Missouri, Brodsky also wrote about his need to escape his routines, pursue acquisitions for his Faulkner collection, with his visits to Oxford, Mississippi, where he held a position of honor, among academics and critics, and where he felt a sense of kinship, belonging, among the locals. Throughout, a reader feels the mounting tension, as Brodsky earns fame, as a Faulkner scholar, but considers himself a failure, as a poet and as a husband, absentee father, and businessman, who can never measure up to the expectations of others.
Startlingly honest and bristling with the energy of Brodsky's discontent, this book records the poet gaining momentum, as a writer, even as his personal life spirals out of control.