This music is beautiful in the morning. I’m at Joshua Marie Wilkinson’s house. Damien Jurado’s record with Richard Swift called MARAQOPA is spinning on the player. It is good and hot in the desert. Josh is working on a book called A SONG CALLED ‘KANSAS CITY’ BY THE SINGER DAMIEN JURADO. It is a book of poetry. Is it a secret? Am I supposed to be saying this? Josh is a poet. He is eating strawberries from a plastic container. He has an orange tree in his backyard. The oranges have thick peels and their insides are woven with cotton.
Josh has printed out manuscript pages of A SONG CALLED… and is having at it with a pair of scissors. There’s a pile of white selvage on the floor of his study. I often wonder how Josh’s mind works, though some evidence of an answer can be found within his many volumes of poetry, edited anthologies, and THE VOLTA, which he generously conducts, with a number of brilliant people present for it. He also, with poet Noah Eli Gordon, makes books under the name Letter Machine. The paper is now flying: strawberry leaves and gleaming white space.
The first thing you see when you walk into Josh’s house is this print of a painting by Paul Klee. Josh’s poems might be found not only within the segments of the hunter and the hunted, but in what conveys them both along the lines of their continuously unfolding destinies.
Maybe Josh looked like this when he was young. The boy, that is. The boy’s name is Deacon. He’s Josh’s nephew. The dog to the right is Bella. Bella is Josh’s dog. I first met Josh in Austin, Texas, in 2006, at a Cuban restaurant. I invited him to read in Missoula, Montana, where I was then living. He read in an old whorehouse. His father, who came to the reading, recognized the reading space as that of an old whorehouse. If only it had been still. Josh’s father had been a bartender there a lifetime before. Egon Schiele’s Nudo seduto con calze viola (1910) hangs over Josh’s bed.
This woman’s eye! Her knees! Her nipple! And then I notice the poem by Paul Celan on the wall, with an etching by his wife, Gisele Lestrange. The poem is a translation by John Felstiner: “THREADSUNS / over the grayblack wastness. / A tree— / high thought / strike the light-tone: there are / still songs to sing beyond / humankind.” We don’t know why we do what we do, though maybe we’re in some company. Josh is up now and changing the record.