David W. Pritchard

The Novel of Life

Just in case you were wondering about the surface's
relationship to death, I dropped my sweatshirt
on the floor almost immediately by accident once the plane

was airborne. This resulted in a choice, or the need
for a series of them. How come everyone got back into
Pasolini (or for the first time, in my case anyway) in

like 2014? Or is it the case I just didn't notice
till I read a bunch of different translations of the poetry
of Pier Paolo Pasolini, filmmaker and poet, and then I got

so into it I hunted down his essays only to read them all
or most of them in two days and conclude
it would be another four years before I did the following things:

care about realism, develop a sophisticated sense of political strategy,
read for the first time the novel Moby-Dick (I still
haven't done this), get called a Stalinist a total of

6 times by two people (three each ideally, only the sad
truth is more like a 5-1 spread) because I like to think in categories,
come out of the closet, become a PhD who's ABD

(at least that's what people tell me), poetry
in the abstract seems less appealing than
fiction in the concrete and yet I haven't done anything

to adjust my relation to these or between them, order
a cup (plastic) of hot water to pour on my head when the
propane water heater dries up again...The

takeaway here is that to take away experience as a mode
of description ("time passes") is not altogether undesirable
if you are tired of the specificity of things and try to train

your gaze between them (cookies almonds pretzels
ginger ale) — the fizz of the ginger ale spritzes my
left wrist as the guy in front of me leans back and I

imagine what it'd be like to draw conclusions only
from the technical aspects of serial murder.
Well it all happens in a row, doesn't it. Out

the window past the man asleep there are a few mountains
visible, or the tops of the mountains are visible which
implies all the rest—a distinction in need of preserving?

a worthy subject for a different poem! meanwhile,
more mountain-cloud-mountain combos and pains in the ass,
knees, neck, and not even the good kind! every flight

attendant has the same haircut as my 10th grade
English teacher who tried to convince me that Brave
New World
is a funny book for a whole month

after which I didn't read all of Dickens, Great
Expectations
, and now I'm here. You would think
presentation would occasion more inner turmoil

than outer, but the flight is smooth and I am calm
all things considered, I'm considering them, I'm
withdrawing from consideration my submission of

"these thoughts large and public" because I don't know
how to relate them, a classic problem I cannot
hope to solve in poetry. That is why I am writing

this novel just for you, which I hope you enjoy.
I was born into the English working class; I grew up;
I read Great Expectations or I didn't, and now here I am

"Burning Down the House" as the song goes
but not the novel. Or it does, but that's
the only part I remember.


David W. Pritchard is a poet and a scholar, but not a poet-scholar. He lives in Holyoke where he can often be seen walking a dog named Shelley—for Mary, not Percy. Recent writing in verse and prose appears in or is forthcoming from Blush, jacket2, Tripwire, Paint Bucket, and Lambda Literary’s Poetry Spotlight. When he is not walking the dog, David is allegedly working on his dissertation on New Narrative and the poetics of revolutionary transition.