106.1: Gale Nelson:: from Elementary Morality 106

At breakfast this morning, the woman at the table over kept telling her friend that she was going to get the omelet. I’m going to get the omelet, the omelet she’d say. I think I’m going to get the omelet. Yeah, I want the omelet. I’m having an omelet. Do you think the omelet here is good? I began to imagine something else entirely, certainly not an omelet. Each repetition took on new form. I was forced to confront what an omelet was and what it wasn’t. Omelet. At the end of breakfast, I had no idea what an omelet looked like anymore. This week’s selection from Gale Nelson does the same. His curious construction of phrases, the way the reader is presented language that she is familiar with but that then strike odd and unfamiliar. The poem moves through its constraints presenting us with something ever new. I am drawn again and again to Nelson’s phrase “inverted egg.” The poem too seems to be an inverted egg: where we we expect the yolk to be–at the center of the page the more traditional linear stanza–is where the poem most rejects meaning, creating nonsense, despite its stillness. And it is in the periphery and the borders, where phrases like “spooled dust” and “bubbling gambit” occur, where invention takes place. The anxiety created by Nelson’s diversion of expectation here is thrilling. I had the French toast by the way. Nik De Dominic
vibrant umbrageselfless keelsilent torrent
 dexterous anxiety 
eclipsing wagerdominant keeningforced air
 territorial desire 
seeping windmillvariant spellingtabled accent
 momentary dew 
 not every


has a long


nor is each


a Picasso

exacting eclipseanxious umbragetorrential extant
 keening windmill

*                    *                    *                    *

balanced armatureaddicted dystopiasugared traipse
 purple elbow 
extreme buttonloving cupspeckled hen
 skimming schema 
territorial consequenceunrelenting ballastnumb parchment
 antediluvian garden 
 pluck this subject

out from all

others and confer

upon her

the rights and

duties we no

longer desire

parched territoryschematic jadeconsequent balance
 elbowed eden

*                    *                    *                    *

bubbling gambitwrung neckinverted egg
 assembled chrome 
distinguished guestprovisional trimembroiled prism
 little groan 
variegated boardcatered spoofpardoned chef
 experimental paradise 
 the squirrel

turns himself

upside down

in order to

feed upon

the birdseed

then rights himself

trimming assemblagelooming inversionspoofed bubble
 bored provision

*                    *                    *                    *

lambent archiveseminal fringeflecked ceiling
 arbitrary cattle 
sudden beliefdusted exposurewanted shelves
 rattled composure 
red scarfbeatled browlanguid cusp
 intrepid spool 
 the shame of

the matter

is that we

could have


each other

and been of use

sealed documentsshelved rattlefringed scarf
 spooled dust