spring love noise and all [excerpt]
but i wondered what i would talk about because here in southern california youre never really sure when spring begins i mean the experience of spring the vernal equinox is one thing but spring is something else and ive been living out here twenty years and i cant always tell when its spring my guess is it comes on some time in late february and you hardly notice it a few branch ends turn yellow a few wildflowers begin to sprout an occasionally different bird appears and you figure it might as well be spring now thats a little different from springs i remember where i came from in the east when its spring boy are you ready for it if you lived in new york city or upstate new york about 130 miles north of the city the way you'd know spring was coming was that around the end of march you'd hear rolls of thunder or cannonades that would mean the ice was breaking on the river you'd say gee it must be spring the ice is breaking on the river and it was like a series of deep distant drum rolls brrrrrrrrrrmbrrrrrrrrrrrm and you didn't feel much better about it because the sky was still gray and cold and the trees were still bare in fact you felt better in january because the snow seemed to keep you warm especially when the temperature got down around zero and the snow was piled up around the house and along the roadside because after every snow the snow ploughs would clear out the road and pile up the snow along the roadside into a wall from six to ten feet high that would shield the houses from the wind and you'd shovel out a pathway to the street but inside it was warm and pretty much everybody in this little town of north branch felt insulated and warm and pretty good in january as long as the heating fuel held out and they didn't feel too bad in february either but when the spring came in march and you heard the dull cannonade on the river thats when you started to feel bad because it had been so cold and bare and gray and you had been holding out so long for the wild mustard and the goldfinches and maybe the coming of the quince that the sound coming off the river that seemed to promise an entry into the land of the hearts desire which you knew would take another month at least made you feel real bad so thats why when the spring came to north branch at the end of march it seemed that every year two people would hang themselves off their back porch because they couldn't wait anymore but there was the other side of spring and you expected great things of it because you had read all those marvelous sweet and jingling poems by those provençal bullshitters waiting for spring to come so they could go out into the fields and fuck and kill people brash and noise poems that went on as i remember something like "oh spring is here the birds are singing lets go out and fight some battles and make it in the grass" in a cheerful jingling and very overrated way that my friend paul blackburn did the best he could with which was to bury the jingle and jazz up the noise a bit to make them sound a little bit like ezra pound and a little bit like paul doing an east village macho number and a lot better than they sound to my ears in provençal and with poetic generosity he covered up the banality of their vocabulary and their tedious ideas if you could call their attitudes ideas and it all sounded so cheerful that we thought it must have been a good idea to sit in toulouse and welcome the spring but dont you believe it toulouse is a dreadful place and nobody wants to be there everyone in toulouse would rather be in paris so if you have a choice about the spring you dont want to spend it in toulouse paul actually lived there for a while and he was always running off to paris or mallorca or to spain but wherever you are you are likely to have this idea of what it means for spring to come and you know how it will come and when it will come because in your expectations it always comes in a neat order the way seasons do because there are exactly four of them and they are very nicely named and there are exactly three months in them and they very obediently follow the astronomical year
From what it means to be avant-garde. Copyright © 1993 by David Antin. Reprinted with permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.