* (Hum)An Algebra with Don Bogen

Anything That Happens – Don Bogen

Anything that happens is too fast to see
But I watched it – there are pictures in the album
Less than a second’s light fixed in chemicals
Little boxes under a vinyl sheet gone cloudy now
What are these dyes that fade at the surface
That child face you wear still under your skin
Whenever I look nothing changes
A photo gives the residue of a lost moment
It claws at memory like a drowning swimmer
Who will not be saved

* insert sound of cellophane here *
* insert sound of cellophane here *

Just finished reading Don Bogen’s book An Algebra, a collection consisting primarily of extended lyric sequences counterpointed by shorter lyrics like the one above.

The poem above speaks to the heart of the collection – Bogen presents a lyrical exploration of personal history, a concept that would be daunting if it weren’t rooted in a sense of self.  You can hear a real voice puzzling over That child face you wear still under your skin.

Last month I spoke about how cemeteries and thrift stores are alike in that they are charged with human connection, human lives passing each other in stone and aisle.  Reading the next poem, I marveled at Bogen’s ability to delve into that other charged human place – the yard sale – and dig out of it a real sense of mortality.

The way things change when we get rid of them, the way we change getting rid of them, what passes idly through the hands on a Saturday morning – all of it part of the history of who we were.

* chair's the dresser! *
* chair’s the dresser! *

Wants – Don Bogen

There’s nothing anyone could want
A yard sale where the private past is suddenly on display
Brought up from storage, dazed and blinking
Drugstore lamps, dessert glasses, AM clock radio
The two-speed bicycle you stripped down over the years
Worth more if it still had its tank, fins, and handlebar streamers
What moves and what doesn’t – you can’t sell it all
On card tables old desires transpose into objets d’art and junk
The basement empties like the hold of a freighter
So you can get away


Happy awaying!


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