In the last few days I've been reading and re-reading the poems in Noelle Kocot's The Bigger World. To my surprise, the work has been talking back to the work of Flannery O'Connor, Joy Williams, Mary Gaitskill, Denis Johnson, and all the work that's meant the most to me. I'm happy to be falling deeper into it, happy to be taken up by its spell of funny, grave, poignant voices. To be learning.
Two poems: "Noneness" and "On Becoming a Person," read by Noelle herself:
by Noelle Kocot
from The Bigger World
Seymour left the beach and traveled
Down a dirt road. He met a naked
Nun, and said, "Hey, what kind of
Dominoes are you slicing?" The nun
Was solemn, even though she was
Naked. She proceeded to sing
A tortured love song about her husband,
Who died before she entered the convent.
Seymour was bored. He wished
The nun was not a nun, but merely
A naked woman without nun-ness.
He ran away from the nun who was
Still singing, and ran smack into
A railroad of infirmity. A bird with one
Leg stopped for coffee, then flew
To the railroad to greet Seymour,
Who was his oldest friend. "We are
Drifting toward, drifting away from,
Eternity," the bird warned. "I've seen
A lost civilization, some prayer beads,
And I felt an immense calm. Seymour,
You have yet to be saved, from what
I don't know." Seymour basked in
The magical light which was growing
Dimmer by the minute. The nun crawled
Off somewhere and died, and when
Her body was found, all anyone knew
About her was that she was a naked
Woman. A lazy happiness overcame
Seymour, and the bird felt content.
Hours passed like this, then days,
Then months, until they were frozen
With winter in an unknown land.