What can I say about any time of mine in Montauk, the times we’d spend at Land’s End, on the beach, on and in the sands, viewing the sky, entering the waves, watching the waves, closing my eyes and listening to the waves, hearing the muted rhythmic pounding of them against the shore as if enveloped in cotton when at night I awaken in the middle of the night, quiet, still, the door partly opened; feeling the salt spray, I recall, in the wind off the ocean . . . more, of course there is more, I could say more, tell you so much more than I have–what can I say? I have before said something about the horizon here at Land’s End, the one-hundred and eighty degrees of horizon–more I could say–yes, there are angles greater than 180 degrees; a line is in effect an angle. I love standing on the sands on the beach, sometimes with my feet in the surf, sucked down into the soft and quick wet sands of the surf, my feet moving as I stand looking out to the horizon south or east, sometimes west . . . the horizon of the ocean meeting the sky, a tilting line, one that wobbles with the rotation of the earth, as perhaps we do. I have tried to imagine being on the world or in the world the way a pendulum exists in the world, its in perpetuity a condition of being without the effects of gravity. But what is grave is not only a matter of gravity, not only a matter of the grave itself when the latter term is used in reference to our final fall, the tomb, as I have said, is our last tumble–no, grave matters are matters with the weight of gravity, a particular seriousness that cannot help but have great weight, density for sure if not with a corresponding great size. The grave is a fall; of course it is a fall; I recall the lowering coffin of my Great Aunt Anna into her grave in Pittsfield. Is this fall of ours, of hers, of mine to come–is any fall heroic and therefore tragic, or is it merely as it is–or as I have assumed it is–for all of us, absurd. A new meaning for reductio ad absurdum?
But the east end beaches, the beaches of the South Fork, the extreme eastern end of Long Island–beautiful beaches, gorgeous–there is, as I had begun to say at this entry’s inception, no word, no single word that could possibly capture what I feel, what I experience when out at Land’s End. Word, no; words, perhaps, yes, this explication of an explanation of why I like it in Montauk. I have mostly avoided such expression before. There is more in revealing than in telling; show them, I remember, was a mantra taken from–where was it taken from? Nothing but the word in itself–no thing, no place, no feeling, expression, idea is ever the word in itself. I have begun to question the Imagists, but then I recognize what it was they were trying to do, and therefore, what they meant by saying what they repeated one and all, Nothing but the word in itself.
What I need to say, want to say, will say often–the three of them never meet one with the other and the other, round robin speaking, as we say when we write, ah! to write or not to write, this would have to be every writers question. What does the writer say? I have asked this before, answered this before, responded one way or another with words on the page, herein this review and elsewhere, in story or poem or essay. What does the writer tell you? There–to say or to tell; transitive and intransitive expression, actions that need an object and actions that do not. Be is not an action; be never takes an object. Be, though, is not intransitive. I read; I read poetry–some verbs are either intransitive or transitive, depending on their context, that is, syntax.
I do not like Montauk or love it or adore it–I am it when I am there; yes, I am Montauk; Montuak is me–I. There is a misconception about this idea that we should say, It is I instead of It is me. The French do say C’est moi, which is not, C’est je. No one ever says, c’est je; they say, c’est moi. C’est moi is “It is me,” It’s me, what we say when someone asks, Who is it? Moi is the substantive pronoun,as is me, the latter also an object pronoun, both the indirect and the direct. Montauk is me; it is I, if you prefer, but I do not. This is all that I can say–should say, if we do have should for things like this . . . I to be Montuak or Montauk to be me; each one is valid, mutual and reciprocal. There is more in the spheres of human being than can be contained by the narrowness of our received ideas. The fires and the motions of my being; I am as I have been for many years, subsumed by an overriding, overarching Romantism . . . the holiness of the heart, the eternal that is the imagination, the imaginative . . . I do recall Flaubert’s outburst at the trial of Madame Bovary–yes, the great French author, novelist, said, Madame Bovary . . . c’est moi.
Sun rise from the beach in Montauk. Getting up before dawn to wait for the sun. Waiting for the Sun was an album by the Doors–my favorite group when I was . . . how old was I then the first time I listened to the Doors, still played by the crew at WNEW when I was . . . how old was I listening to Alison Steele, the Night Bird–I’d stay up to listen to her . . . They are now, the Doors, from then, what remains–the most enduring group from my youth? What does that mean? What could it mean? What does it mean–not just the truth of it, if it is in fact true–but to say it, to think that I need to say it, or that it might say something of me to say it?
Morrison died before I was fourteen or ever a fan of their music. Fan from fanatic–was I a Doors fan the way I am and was a New York Rangers’s fan? Probably not–maybe, though, I was. What means this–could mean anything remotely akin to having a favorite band, or how a band could express something about my being, my personality–yes, to say I liked the Doors did say something about me. We wore our fandom as badges of personality. We allowed their cult of personality to transfer onto us at a time in our lives when we could’t have been less sure who we were, what we were, when we were what, whom, the where was everywhere; the when was actually twofold. It was all the time and it was whenever . . .
The list of conditions we underwent to undergo personality selection is too long. I had no idea and yet I was sure I was the only one who could ever know what I was or what I was going to come to be . . . the sun up over the line of horizon, the squid ink sea growing lighter and lighter with each inching of the sun over the horizon. How many poems has this figured in? I could go back and count, having all my MSS at hand, along with many of the earlier drafts of the poetry manuscripts with their previous titles when different?
A page in caption. Every page I write is a caption for an image of me I have hold keep . . . words and pictures, every picture worth a thousand words, we used to say. I do not understand that. I think it is more accurate to say every right word is a thousand pictures, no. To write or not to write for me has ben my to be or not. There is no getting around that, escaping the import of this fact–facts are not knowledge, though. What knowledge is in this will determine what or how much wisdom can be extracted? Wisdom does not come by extraction, though. Wisdom is revealed; it is an epiphany moment. It is sudden as in Satori, no? What could I know of this, you might ask–I know some of you do, so maybe ye, maybe no, how much of my life has been lived in perhaps.
I recall a satori in Montauk . . . there is a deafness at the beach enveloped in the sound of the surf as I am, yes, enveloped as I am by sight and sound and spray from the wind off the waves. I read Kerouac’s Big Sur on the beach in Montauk. I know he would have liked that.
I look to the horizon, I look to the waves, at them, looking in a way that watches closely what is happening, how the water breaks off from the surf, what shaols are there under the water that I cannot see, what formations of the shore I cannot see that cause the water coming in to break in white water waves . . . I look back to the horizon and imagine that I see it wobble . . .