I define poetic opportunity as the moment in which the regular course of the world, that mechanism of objects and words, grinds to a sudden halt before an abyss of meaning, which it jumps over so quickly that you might not even think the ground had opened at your feet and you had almost drowned on dry land. This brief, symbolic crack in the order of things is, normally, normalized, shaken off, forgotten or explained. The idea that the world is working behind our back – a figure of speech that doesn’t quite logically work, as the world includes our back, brain and breath, but I will let it go for now – can lead to ecstasy, paranoia or breakdown, but mostly it just leads to irritation and a passing moodiness.
Sometimes it even leads to poetry. But not very often.
For instance – I’ve been mulling over some material presented to me by Adam. We’ve made it a habit, Adam and I, to walk up the street here in Montpellier, past the roadwork and, after a brief stop at the boulanger to buy a croissant, all the way up to the old College of Medicine. The portal to the College of Medicine is guarded on either side by two statues of eminent members of the Montpellier school of physiognomy from the 18th century. The statues are bronze, and look like they were created in the 19th century. Certainly they are more than a century old. During the time the two doctors – Lapeyronie and Barthez – have sat there, generations of pigeons have shit on them. In consequence, their faces are marked by traces of oxidation. Adam recognized those traces as tears, and decided that the statues are crying. When Adam cries, people around him say, calm down. So Adam’s response to these two statues – which he likes, he sometimes asks me when we are going to see the statues – is to tell them to calm down.
I surely should be able to make something out of this scene – this pint sized Californian with the blond hair looking up at the statues, each of which are around ten feet high, and telling them to calm down.
But it is hot. The cicadas in the trees are incessant. The mosquitos are a nuisance. I want a gin and tonic. With a lot of ice. And the occasion escapes me.