6X6 #32 begins with Lyn Hejinian’s “Illogically; Grievous,” a lengthy prose poem that ventures to ask “Where rest the increments of a human being’s life that’s not now soot in a circle?” It’s an apt place to begin the Summer 2015 issue, which reminds readers that we are small. Our lives are short. Our memories are mortal. And while the editors likely didn’t set out with the purpose of making readers feel inconsequential, there is a common (and often comforting) vein of self-awareness running through the issue. 6X6 #32 begins with Lyn Hejinian’s “Illogically; Grievous,” a lengthy prose poem that ventures to ask “Where rest the increments of a human being’s life that’s not now soot in a circle?” It’s an apt place to begin the Summer 2015 issue, which reminds readers that we are small. Our lives are short. Our memories are mortal. And while the editors likely didn’t set out with the purpose of making readers feel inconsequential, there is a common (and often comforting) vein of self-awareness running through the issue.
It is important to document the worries and wonders that consume our thoughts—small as they may be—and important to read and relate to these documentations. The universe is large, and we are small, and #32 reminds us of this in ways that are beautiful, comforting, and strange.
Tony Iantosca’s “Excerpts from Creative Writing” give perspective to things that often seem profound or significant. The writing here is accessible. The poems are easily-digestible, yet leave a lasting impression. The speaker in the first selection explains:
[ . . . ] All my problems
shape up to be a rainstorm
and then it all becomes
something else entirely.
Much the way a cloud transforms and changes shape, our problems are altered over time. A cloud “is shaped / how it’s shaping itself and being / shaped too.” Our worries are shaped by outside experiences, but also seem to have a way of shaping themselves outside our control.
Morgan Parker’s “I Told My Therapist I Tried to Meditate and She Laughed” is a thought-provoking reflection on the speaker’s desire for wholeness. Meditation is the practice of looking inward, escaping from incessant thoughts and embracing a still mind, yet this poem is frantic and unsure of itself [slashes original to poem]:
I’ve been thinking/ Goddamnit
I’m trying/ to get whole/ I snake
wheat fields/ I’m obsessed
with how people are wrong/
They are ugly and so am I/
The speaker craves awareness, and attempts to look within only to be distracted by the outside world. Despite our awareness that true happiness comes from within, we accept and embrace the things that bring us only fleeting happiness. The last line:
. . . Anything
good/ you can find/ in the dark
illustrates our willingness to be distracted.
Uroš Kotlajić’s selections from “Sonnets About Holes” were translated by Ainsley Morse from the Serbian. These poems take readers on a surreal journey through time and space. In “XI” we are told, “This is one more body that has its volume that / Whines and mocks its urges.” There is an awareness of the body here, and yet an undeniable resistance to the limitations of time and space. The subjects here are always coming and going, occupying spaces, and leaving things behind.
James D. Fuson, in his Tweet-like “Intellectualisms,” blurs the lines between fine-writing and social media feed-filler in a style that is entertaining and self-aware. The first selection begins,
justboughtsumthinnew/ rillysyked/ picspostedon
and ends with “#LOOK AT MY SHIT.” What initially comes across as commentary on the internet generation’s habit of over-sharing, boils down into something that would be cringe-inducing on a Twitter feed, yet surprisingly refreshing printed here.
Fuson’s poem “Patchwork Thoughts” is a collage of images from a speaker who uses writing to cope with pain, yet openly recognizes the flaws and weaknesses of this mechanism:
It’s early morning and I write
on a piece of paper about
the things I hate,
[ . . . ]
I’m hearing a voice
telling me I make no sense,
but there’s nothing standing over me.
Fuson brings awareness to the internal struggles we often face. We use writing as therapy, yet doubt our own abilities. Although this poem brings to light our self-doubts and our flaws, it is non-judgmental and honest in its execution.
While many of the works collected here are comforting, Barbara Henning often positions the typical beside scenes of sickness and violence. In “Madagascar,” she brings readers into a montage of the everyday: a movie with the kids, play time in the bath. Yet, there is an underlying awareness of the fragility of our environment:
under an umbrella, walking
through the park. Surely,
radioactive ocean water
from the Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear plant will migrate
around the globe and even if we
don’t die this year, we will
all die eventually, so for now,
let’s hold each other loosely.
The wisdom to “hold each other loosely” is a reminder that our actions against the environment and each other may come with dire consequences.
Issue #32 will comfort readers in strange ways by reminding us coolly of our mortality, of the insignificance of our problems, and of the incessant nature of our thoughts and worries. This issue is well-suited for readers who want to face human flaws head-on and embrace our existence with refreshingly blunt honesty.