Mean Free Path

I planned to read today, but then suddenly writing happened – but at least I got this:


Mean Free Path

by Ben Lerner

What if I made you hear this as music
But not how you mean that. The slow beam
Opened me up. Walls walked through me
Life resonant waves. I thought that maybe
If you aren’t too busy, we could spend our lives
Parting in stations, promising to write
War and Peace, this time with feeling
As bullets leave their luminous traces across
Wait, I wasn’t finished. I was going to say
Breakwaters echo long lines of cloud
Renunciation seales. Exhibits shade
Imperceptibly into gift shops. The death of a friend
Opens me up. Suddenly the weather
Is written by Tolstoy, whose hands were giant
Resonant waves. It’s hard not to take
When your eye is at the vertex of a cone
Autumn personally. My past becomes
Of lines extending to each leaf
Citable in all its moments: parting, rain
Mean free path is the average distance a particle travels before colliding with another particle. The poems in Lerner’s third collection – Mean Free Path  are full of layered collisions; repetitions, fragmentations, stutters, re-combinations–that track how language threatens to break up or change course under the emotional pressures of the utterance. 

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