Why Are You Writing These

Alice Notley

                                                to try to rememberwhat you is that nothing much happens for17 years it was richliving in isolation in a populous cityremember when I hated my neighbor because he was noisyI didn’t hate him I couldn’t look at him I wanted tokick him out     he held raves every weekendI called the cops a lot and worked with a certain policemanwho discovered my neighbor had been arrested in Bordeauxfor breaking furniture     he finally stopped paying renthad to leave then the gardienne and I gave thumbs-up signsacross rue des Messageries     she has since moved to ValenciaI’m interested in how totally against him I wasyou could say I have sensitive ears that simply reacthis mother came up from Toulouse once to help him cleanwe were overrun with mice she caught sevenone morning with glue traps excuse me she said I’m the mother ofyour neighbor who’s sometimes noisy do you have miceI tried to tell her I’d seen them slide down the gas-pole like firemenbut I didn’t have the French for that and French firemen don’tshe had a dream of moving to San DiegoI don’t mind any of it except for my earsI was born receptive and sound shakes me upI have a poem in which the universe is like a vocal cordit must also be an ear infinite receptionmusic destroys thought poetry is it I couldn’t havebeen bothered to tell this story in prose     A decision wastaken after time began to maintain a prose universeI have been bored ever since and keep to myselfthough contrarily trying to save you from the materialsof your destructive lives masses of noise anythingto forget what and maybe I am only a nerveor am nerve if you could remember shut up and rememberor is it not remember I am in a state of vibrationevery possible sound available why or is it onlysomething to do the one thing to do or is it onlyHelen Morgan again singing Why was I born / Why am I livingI have nothing to show for my time but poemswhat do you have

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Alice Notley’s most recent book is Certain Magical Acts. She lives in Paris, France.

The Kenyon Review

July/August 2018

Gambier, Ohio

Kenyon College

David H. Lynn

Managing Editor
Abigail Wadsworth Serfass

Associate Editor
Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky

Poetry Editor
David Baker

First with the best, the Kenyon Review has been one of America’s premier literary journals since 1939. For over fifty years, we’ve been delighting sophisticated readers with issue upon issue of scintillating fiction, sharp reviews, and penetrating poetry. Our writers have won countless awards. And our name is known around the planet by readers, writers, and lovers of literature.

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