036.1: Matvei Yankelevich:: WANDA (a typewriter portrait) & MARISOL (a typewriter portrait) & The Same After Noon 036

Sitting at the entrance to my apartment is a 1930 Underwood typewriter. It is the first thing that I see when I enter and the last thing I look at as I leave. Writing on the machine is a physical experience, one that takes force to strike the keys, emits a loud clackity-clack. The machine also requires maintenance, periodic cleaning and ribbon replacement. Using the typewriter is an announcement of effort and intention, a place in some sense where the mental world of language and poetry merges with the physical world that surrounds us. In Matvei Yankelevich's typewriter portraits, this physicality is instantly apparent: "Writing about you is / don’t say that – a little / intimidating..." What we find in these poems is an attempt at correspondence, the physical necessity of communicating coupled with the difficulty in expressing intimacy through the written word. Are these poems for us? Yankelevich's portraits both distance us and draw us into the intimate space of his correspondence. We don't know who Marisol and Wanda are, nor do we even know if they are real people or poetic creations. But these poems are also portraits, evincing the realization of public display. In our distancing, we are acknowledged as invited voyeurs.

The final poem in this series, "The Same After Noon", is not a typewriter portrait. At first, it may seem out of place, but the poem comes from the same place as the preceding two portraits: the event that necessitates writing. Though the poem was not necessarily conceived this way, it serves as a more theoretical, though still poetic, pondering on what it means to write about something or someone: "hey, I’m not done yet / we have yet to perfect / the chiasmus of bodies / but I have to go..." A pondering that is not outside of the real world, one that acknowledges the passage of time, the necessity of living in the real world, perhaps doing something as simple as running errands, and being cognizant of the hourly ringing of the church bells. These bells, which William Carlos Williams asked to "ring for the ringing!", Yankelevich replies that, yes, we do hear them ringing, "on the hour!" Andrew Wessels

WANDA (a typewriter portrait)

Writing about you is
don’t say that – a little
intimidating, knowing your own
poems. The World is a matchmaker,
anyone, but specifically someone, would want
to meet your poems. And your eyes
notice what his ears have seen, finally
introduced, after all the readings, parties, screenings,
after all those dates in the calendar
marked orange—and so it happens that
a complement emerges from the crowd,
you forgot the punch line again, anyway,
who cares about punch lines when
there are so many great details, like dimples,
like birds, and things, all things going, gone
you’ve got the mitt to catch them before they roll
off the line,
the tongue which finds itself
tied to a park, keep it—what you’ve found,
then lose it, finally, to take on

you read—and the reel spins
out the door.

MARISOL (a typewriter portrait)

Marisol, dear,
you look great even with
this ailment that         nibbles you
like regretful bunnies
I hope it goes away
you’ve got to shake it so that
           we can break the beaches

your old self is wandering
the wet sand, and you look
back with a grin, which wrinkles
your nose, and did you
know that ever since
we met, I’ve thought of you
as Cardamom, well, at least part
of the time

You could be an astronaut
for all I know and fly with
the scaly birds of Andromeda
to far away paintings.

The clock ticks from 8 on
and makes like ants in your
small hand
full of tiny jewels
from the street of summer,

idle, idle, white sun,
you are full of little jewels, which
you kindly mistake for losses, holes,
blank suns, idle, idle suns

let me see what you can, and maybe
then I can make a portrait of
your inner chair.

The Same After

as before

it’s no time now

like it was the middle

of anything you could say

interrupted by punctuality, round figures

curled to a comma,

combed to cup and saucer,

line rolled to period

thumb to margin, time to parentheses

more where that yes came from, yes

or: she said she said by the seashore

hey, I’m not done yet

we have yet to perfect

the chiasmus of bodies

but I have to go

don’t you wish we could hear

the church bells ringing in the yard?

but we do! on the hour!