The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday, Annapolis, Vienna Teng

Does the Document Promise?
By Thom Donovan

   --for Steve Siegel, in remembrance

Crying onto the documents doesn't make for very
   good metadata

Do you believe me when I tell you I am crying while
   I type this poem?

"The introduction of writing does not teach us how
   to remember better, just gives us an excuse to
   forget," said the Pharaoh to his scribe upon
   presentation of the new invention

All the tenses of this earth are wrong today

Wondering if everything in heaven will be searchable
   or whether it will be like totality

No need to search because everything is known
   instantly, all good and cruel deeds like angels on
   the head of a pin, even stupidity, because it is part
   of knowing

Crying into the file folders, documents remind us
   everything will one day be lost or ruined or totally
   without context

What will become of promises, and do things also
   make promises?

Does the document promise?

I would like the tense of the promise to be the tense
   of the poem I am dedicating to you, just as soon
   as I've written it

For, as the artist Jerome Caja says in reference to
   his many friends and lovers who died of AIDS: "I
   don't do stuff for the dead. I keep promises."

Now that everything becomes retrievable--
   notwithstanding totality--I am crying into the index,
   soaking it with tears

I am crying into a pattern of search and retrieval and
   losing everything because you can't be here.


We had pouring rain and a tornado watch from morning till nearly dusk, so I had a quiet Monday, which was fine after my busy Sunday. To recap, we went to Annapolis after lunch, where we parked above the monuments and shopping district where we intended to eat dinner, then walked to the waterfront, stopping to visit various stores (there's one that sells alpaca woolens, one that sells maps carved onto wooden clocks and trays, one that's all Christmas ornaments, all year, and numerous shops devoted to Navy items, nautical items, and pirate items). We couldn't walk around the marina because there was a power boat show that had it closed off on one side and the Naval Academy is affected by the shutdown so its museums and public areas are closed as well, but we got to see a bunch of the boats.

Then we went to Lemongrass for Thai food (they will make any of their curries with tofu instead of meat, so we got to have kaeng khiao wan and Massaman curry, both of which were excellent, and walked through the monthly craft fair during the last hour it was open, though I spent all my time admiring jewelry and glass art and didn't actually buy anything. We walked past the governor's mansion (we could hear O'Malley's kids yelling and chasing each other in the yard) and the state house, plus the Thurgood Marshall statue and various state and county office buildings. Then we went to the Ram's Head Tavern, where we had coffee and hot chocolate (mine might have had peppermint schnapps in it) and saw Vienna Teng and Alex Wong. I like the former but he was very talky and I was not in the mood to hear about his process!

Both the State of Maryland and Anne Arundel County have offices and administrators in Annapolis.

The Maryland State House is visible all over the city...

...both the oldest sections and the newer shopping areas.

There's a street fair on the first Sunday of every month...

...with crafts, food, and live music.

Last weekend there was also a motorboat show; next weekend there's a sailboat show.

We also visited the Historic Annapolis Museum, which currently has an exhibit on runaway slaves and indentured servants of the Chesapeake area.

There is a free circulator trolley bus to take people all around the city.

Vienna Teng was, as always, fantastic. She opened with "Whatever You Want" and "Blue Caravan" and did a solo version of "The Hymn of Acxiom" with herself as backup on her vocal synthesizer, which was a surprisingly decent replacement for the choir, plus she did "Copenhagen" with herself, Alex, and Jordan Hamlin playing plastic cups. Jordan played the French horn on "Antebellum." Vienna mostly played music from her new album, but she asked for requests for older songs and played a mashup of "Harbor" and "City Hall" that was awesome (she told everyone to sing along on the latter). She closed with "Grandmother Song" (encouraging audience heckling) and did "Soon Love Soon" with backup harmony recruited from the audience.

The only song I really don't like off her new album, "In the 99," she said was inspired by Kanye West, which explains a know that shudder you feel when an artist you love goes experimental and you want them to grow as an artist, but not change so they're unrecognizable? That's how I felt when I first heard it. At least most of the album does not sound like "let me see how I can sound like one of the cool kids" so much. Speaking of not changing too much, I may skip the rest of the new season of Downton, we caught up on Once Upon a Time (go Team Villains) and Masters of Sex (go Virginia), plus we watched tonight's season premiere of Beauty and the Beast which I HATE being on against Sleepy Hollow so don't spoil me! It was kind of all over the place but I still love Chandler and I'll keep watching for as long as she's awesome.

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