Enjoy this weekend’s bits and bytes


  


Hayden Carruth didn’t praise technology too much, let alone the technology we work with, though I once heard him talk about computers making experimental layout of poems easier. We have his “Regarding Chainsaws,” which (sorry) cuts both ways, and this minor mention of computing technology:


April 25, 1994


Dear Jane,


It’s an entirely typical morning here. Gray, drizzly, warm, a song sparrow in the old grape vine, crows congregating noisily in the woods. I’ve been up for about an hour and a half. I’ve made coffee and fed the cats, Mudgins and Cooker, I’ve drunk two mugs of coffee and smoked six or seven cigarettes, I’ve considered my sins, and now I’m sitting in my tattered old wingback chair by the stove (cold at this time of year) with my new portable computer on my knees. Much more comfortable than sitting stark upright at the desk. Joe-Anne is still sleeping. We were up late last night, as we are most nights….


—from Letters to Jane (Ausable Press, 2004)

But my favorite Carruth rumination on technology is “Pa McCabe” (which is itself eventually more concerned with Pa). The poem opens like this:


Pa McCabe


You tell these young spratasses around here


you got a ram down in the brook, they’ll look


at you like you was talking the Mongolian


jabberfizzy, they ain’t never heard of any such


a thing. Even if you say it’s a hydraulic


ram, it don’t mean nothing to them. Maybe


it don’t to you. Well, a ram is a kind of a pump,


see? It works without any power except the force


of the water itself. How? You’re thinking I’m


off my rocker? Ok. You got an inlet pipe


that’s four to five times the diameter of the


outlet, and you set that inlet far enough up


the brook so it makes a fall of maybe two to


three feet, so the incoming water will hit


with force. What happens is it hits a little


weighted valve and pushes it upwards so most


of the water sprays out and goes back to the brook.


But then the valve falls closed again from its


own weight, and that pushes a little water up


into the dome, and of course that creates pressure


same as you got in any pump, and the pressure


will drive some of the water into the outlet.


Ingenious, ain’t it? Of course it ain’t what you


guys would call efficient; you only get out


about 10 to 15 percent of the incoming water. But


it don’t cost nothing! Nothing! No electricity,


no gasoline. Once you got that pump going, it’ll


run forever.


                   I had a small one once, borrowed


off Marshall….


Read the rest in Carruth’s Collected Shorter Poems, 1946-1991 (Copper Canyon Press, 1992).


  


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