Monday, December 21, 2009

from Quantum Leap

Michael James Martin does some impressive things: I admit without much shame that in all my time as a reader, I have never wrapped my head around the actual math of poetry. Meter is a thing you feel, in my opinion. Do I feel comfortable recommending a poem to someone while refusing to comment on the actual mechanics of it? Of course. I don't care how a piano works; only that it produces "The Lonely Man" by Joe Harnell. As always, if you don't feel it, it doesn't much matter anyway. As such, the formula for what is a valuable piece of writing remains locked in my subconscious. Every time I try to scribble it out on the figurative chalkboard I end up distracted, and shortly find myself drawing rubber-legged stick people running for their lives from burning houses.

To summarize, Michael James Martin's poem from Quantum Leap works. It is fragmented and joyous and desperate, communicating via vignettes run amok. They spill on top of one another, separated by disorienting "leaps" from one circumstance to the next. The sense is of futility; Dr. Sam Beckett's self-imposed task was to repair what he could in any given situation. Michael James Martin wonders aloud how this scheme would operate in the real world without a screenwriter's moral (and practical) intervention. The protagonist finds himself disoriented and besieged:

Leap: I didn't accomplish anything last time, right now
a gun tastes funny-awkward on my tongue, inches from my
uvula so I'm not sure how much I'll accomplish Leap:

This is as funny as it is miserable. Is altruism an immortal quality? Does it require witnesses that know your name? How do you fall in love in the midst of madness? It's an implied question, I think; the hyper-sensitive drama of the narrator's predicament strobes at you as if narrated from the tatters of a television script run through a paper shredder. Drama would not survive on television if it were honest to this extent, at a magnification you could call molecular. It would elicit a lot of weeping and laughing and impossible-to-vocalize fear. The narrator struggles for a moment of stability. There isn't one. What better way to treat a moral protagonist than to throw him down a well with no bottom? How long does such a person last when life splits down into its insane base sensations, becoming nothing but a series of funny-awkward guns? Read from Quantum Leap by Michael James Martin @ Juked.