Rusty Morrison

Winner of the George Bogin Memorial Award in 2009

 Assembled from the script: Bataille

 

No chapel, no wounded-soldier-in-the-last-scene sacrament,
no field of windswept grass where lovers walk, as the background 
   music swells to tell us
full communication resembles flames—the electrical

fence already surrounds your found object,
which I'm too afraid to fondle. I'd be pitting water against glass. 
   Even to imagine you
nearly in my hands, and my skin is a pox of impact,
while the wild horse silhouetted on the sun-blanched horizon
   merely kicks hooves
and we swoon to that
discharge of lightening. Its attraction

too flawless.
I am nearly sick with child-haste. Where have I put her this
   time? Doll in a box. Doll
in my lips, belly, breasts?
She's gone. What will I offer you now? Nervous as a kneeling
   supplicant
at the bishop's door. Bishop
in both of us, brooding, turning
his eyes round me as though I were the trick of perspective. Every
   object I am
is the rupturing it is built on

—still you don't understand, though I come dressed
in several hints. My little song-skirt, call it rhythm-to-tear-
   its-own-seams with,
set to the tone poem of odorous ripening. I make you
a little noise in my throat, under-heard,
which increases its intensity in proportion

to my feigned disinterest.
While you watch the mesmerizing spin
of a bikewheel that's just tumbled us, muddy, into a roadside 
   ditch
that had hidden from us
its depth.


The script: full communication resembles flames—the electrical discharge of lightening. Its attraction is the rupturing it is built on, which increases its intensity in proportion to its depth   
line

John Yau on Rusty Morrison

The openness of Rusty Morrison's sequence, "Assembled from the script: Bataille"—a wanting it all—is heartfelt and heartbreaking. Had I not been informed by the sequence's title, I would not have known that Morrison had disassembled and reassembled sentences of George Bataille, which she italicizes, into these poems. Long and short, her lines move swiftly and effortlessly between the palpable world and impalpable thoughts. And yet what happens simultaneously (as the italicized words tell us) is an invasion, at once violent and erotic, in which Morrison's writing and thinking are penetrated by Bataille, even as the poet dismembers and remembers his dense, trenchant writing.

Within this dance of tearing and tenderness, "this chaining of thoughts to rain," Morrison explores the distances between poetic vision and everyday life, between the solitary self and the "you"—both the one that sits with her "at café tables" and the "Doll in the box" that is "gone"—always registering with disquieting precision how the spaces open up and inform the complex configuration of the waywardly, daydreaming "I," the "we," and the "you" inhabiting "your silence, your wordlessly moving lips." Conscious of the rifts between us "whatever directive we use to distill the salt of sentience," Morrison has written a "tone poem of odorous ripening."

In picking Bataille as her partner, accomplice, alter ego, and counter-voice, Morrison chose an eloquent figure that attacked with considerable virulence the idea of a closed economy, which would include such institutions as the family. What kind of waste does any "we" produce, and what do they do with it? Morrison courts those regions of thinking and being that society instructs us to suppress or ignore; and she does so by declaring, "Every object I am/is the rupturing it is built on." At the same time, she writes, "Pretend instead that words can make a humanness between us." What started and moved this reader is the calm forceful music, its tonal shifts and use of different registers, with which Morrison proceeded, her willingness to "plunge into the silence that most frightens us."

Go Back to Annual Awards Winners' Listing