Robert Archambeau (Lake Forest, Illinois, USA): Letter to Albert Goldbarth


(remixing and writing-through Budget Travel through Space and Time)

I ate your book, Albert,
or should I say:
I ate your book the way the snake
in your poem ate its mouse:
first, the slow survey of rich terrain,
then somehow
without an indication of speed
or even movement (it was easy:
I was stretched out on the couch)
I gulped the living thing
down whole. But that’s not right.
Your book’s no mouse, but
something supple and absorptive,
something setting out to take it all,
like the topless dancer who took your pal
for all his tens and twenties, all his fives and ones,
who, playful, took his quarters and his dimes.
I think I came across the book in Mexico,
when I lived in a village so small I always thought
a rain of more than an hour would wash it
into the jungle totally, with its one telephone,
its butcher knife, its five flutes
and handful of silt. I don’t know why I was there,
or if it even happened,
or if it only happened in the book I’d swallowed whole.
I don’t know why my hunger took me there,
unless it had to do with how the words I’d been born into
weren’t enough,
and I’d come because I wanted more inside me,
more digestion stones, like what an owl has, and more
for them to go to pulverizing work on.
I ate your book, Albert.
But that’s not right:
I write inside the belly of a snake.

© Robert Archambeau 2008