Pushcart XLI: Alex Dimitrov, “Cocaine” (poem) from The Adroit Journal #13

People disappear.
And go looking for a place to be looked at.
All the way down Wilshire and above us: like a sheet of indigo tile.
As we waited, our nicotine glowed in the distance like flies
to some heaven, some high road.
“Who sat on mountaintops in cars reading books aloud to the canyons?”
Like gods and at home being extras at best.

Complete poem available online at The Adroit Journal

I give up. Doesn’t happen often – I can usually find something to grab onto in any poem, essay, or story, even if I don’t really understand what’s going on – but here, I found myself at a complete loss after many readings, whispered, shouted, silent. Even after I found an interview with the poet in which he explicitly discusses the origins of the poem – two trips to LA, passing down the same block of Wilshire a year apart – I still don’t follow. I’m feeling pretty stupid right now, particularly since it was nominated by three poets in addition to the journal itself, so its meaning and excellence are clearly evident to those who know what to look for – and I’m missing it entirely. Guidance welcomed.

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One response to “Pushcart XLI: Alex Dimitrov, “Cocaine” (poem) from The Adroit Journal #13

  1. I’m laughing in sympathy. I have two thoughts. First, this is one of the finest essays on half of the poetry out there you’ll ever read, even if it’s very long: http://www.32poems.com/blog/8267/prose-feature-poems-dont-make-sense-matthew-buckley-smith

    Secondly, I do think this poem might be a hard-to-parse one rather than a complete nonsense poem. I’m not sure I’ve got it at all right, but it comes across to me as something like a birthday party in a building high up and the dude is coked up and thinking thoughts, like: wow, everyone looks small from up here, and I wonder what we look like to them? We’re kind of like actors on a show to them, I bet. But aren’t we all just extras on a show called “Time”? (Then some shit I don’t understand about a face feeling unsafe and yours that you sold for too low a price.) And everybody just gets through life by taking plain advice like “drink water, take your vitamins,” you know, all that stuff that passes for a life. Man, up here, partying like this, it’s like we’re flying over the whole world. But then I still have to come home, and I can’t stand to think about going inside and living my stupid life, so I sit out in the car and coke up some more.

    Or something like that. There is a thin line for me between being challenged in a fun way as a reader and being disrespected. I’m not really sure where on the line this poem is. I don’t hate it.

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