“A Peek at Glenn Bach’s Atlas Peripatetic (54),” Night Stream Journey, 10 April 2008.
The selection from Glenn Bach’s Atlas Peripatetic that appears in Pinstripe Fedora 3 begins with piece 54, which is practically buried in amulets of liminality. The first phrase refers us to a “hidden place”; change often occurs in such a locale. Then there is a crow, a living bird associated with death and the transition there. Note as well that the only word capitalized in this poem is “From”– twice, both times as part of a prepositional phrase that implies emergence. Each of these phrases is followed by a piled-up column of phrases (in the latter case of “of” phrases). First we find a list of actions the deathly bird carries out. For the purposes of establishing the primacy of transition, what each of these acts implies is not as important as the simple fact that a crow does so much. That said, its “call[ing] out a double quality” echoes the double nature of the living bird of death. In the second case, the column gives us details of what “we” are studying of the courtyard, including “that it hides”. This naturally raises the question of how one can study what is hidden, though perhaps the presence of the details around it, especially the somewhat mysterious “detention” (a nod to the zeitgeist?), may provide a clue. More importantly for this poem’s liminality, all these details lead at last to the study of transformation, though this is not allowed to become our conclusion or resting place, thanks to the interruption (marked with a dash) of “this handsome stroke of crow” as if some artist (let us say Glenn Bach himself) had painted it there to announce our time of transition not to death but to another poem. (I would go too far were I to call this a small death.) In the end, we walk on to another poem in Bach’s sequencing of materials gathered on morning walks– walking as transition from one place to another, morning as a liminal time.
–Elizabeth Kate Switaj