Scatterthoughts on one by Jen Hofer

if a wall is a river

a bit of interference

flowing past the checkpoint

makes the image accurate


How can blockage or obstruction communicate more, or more effectively than clarity? In one, Jen Hofer posits: how can a wall be a river? I suppose the reverse would be more clear, more obvious: the question of a river being a wall. This is something the media talks about ad nauseum: how a river, for example, the Río Bravo/Río Grande becomes literally a wall, a border, a division. But I think postulating the opposite here brings up this pertinent question: how can a wall be a river? How can we take apart a wall and make it a river? What does this thinking or languaging do to the wall itself? And so then if a wall is a river, then a bit of interference could actually flow through the wall, past the checkpoint and Jen is letting us know that the image could be more accurate then, with this interference flowing through it and preventing it from being altogether clear.

Jen is thinking a lot about what the city feels like in wartime, how the days have "gone lax with likes with unrequited ease as there is in this metropolis such a dizzy bungalow sense of radiating spokes with no center to sing of." There is a horror in this distance from the war, a horror in the distance from the suffering upon which our days of ease are based.

The lines are often interrupted, broken, sometimes by dashes or white space or parentheses, and also by challenging paratactic leaps from one conglomeration of words to the next. There is so much beauty in the leaps, in the dispersive moments when (as if a bomb has gone off) the words scatter across the page and then (un)expectedly reunite at the close of a section into a tight stanza that seems to re-stab in forceful and gut-wrenching ways.

Loved it.

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