5 Poetic, and 1 Novelized, Failures Part 2

Look. Ginsberg’s wandering “off down empty corridors / in search of a toilet.” His beard, his clothes, his speech are wild. Stand a moment and catch glimpses of his glimpses. But don’t look him in the eye; there’s a mystic fire gleaming there, and if you catch it, you’ll be like him.

Hopkins is his roommate, strapped in his bed. The straps are nearly worthless now that the fevers are quickening. Don’t worry, he won’t see you; his bright eyes are ruined by the same papers waiting for you on your desk. Only hearing now is his delight, and he strains and strains for Ginsberg’s grumblings in Blake’s ancient earthen voice.

Bakhtin’s next door, hastily wrapping everything up for a smoke. His room is thick with ash and cat hair and you syncopate coughs with Ginsberg’s steps.

Out in the garden, Robinson is contemplating suicide with each click of Richard Cory’s barrel, muttering that “the chances are about ten to one that…my life will be a disappointment and a failure,” but nobody has the time to tell him he’s already dead.

We might expect to find Dickinson tending the garden, but she hasn’t returned since her first day. You can find her still sitting in her room, clutching a few dried lilies, waiting to hand them to anyone—anyone—as her introduction.

And Dante’s here too, in exile, waiting for all those Ghibellines he put in hell to join him and wondering what’s taking them so long. He’s forgotten Virgil’s embrace and Statius’s boom, but not her griffin-fired eyes.

Welcome to the hall of failure. You will fail and know why. But don’t worry about figuring out the name or straining to hear Blake-Ginsberg’s idea of the name. Failure’s springs are the same.

Settle in. You’ve had enough time to look around. Hand your papers all over to Bakhtin. No one’s going to read them anyways.

But maybe you won’t have to wait long. Maybe one day Hopkins will break his bonds and still Ginsberg’s roaming lips and Mysha’s polyphonic fingertips. And replace Cory’s click with a belated introduction. And he would say he knows a place where everything fond of us, every fruitless failure, every lost joy and everything we freely forfeit is kept with fonder a care. And we will say Where!


And Statius’s boom will be heard again.

And Dante will look up and know why.

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